Puerto Penasco, also referred to as “Rocky Point”, is becoming a popular beach destination for Americans looking for an easy (and still foreign) vacation. In fact, its sometimes referred to as “Arizona’s Beach”. The town has a laid back vacation vibe with a semi-bustling town center and two stretches golden sand. Here, we’ll talk about the logistics on how to get there, what to see and do and how to have a great time.
From Los Angeles:
From LA, you have a few options. It really depends on if you prefer to spend your time driving in the US or Mexico. Essentially there are 5 basic ways to do this, and the directions from San Diego are included here (since its on the way).
- Take the 5 South to San Diego, cross at Tijuana and head east through Mexico
- Take the 5 South to San Diego, but head East and cross at Tecate, then keep going east through Mexico
- Take the 10 East and go south on Highway 86 to Calexico
- Take the 10 East and go south on Highway 95 to Yuma
- Take the 10 East and go south on Highway 85 to Lukeville (In AZ)
From Phoenix, the route is simple. Head south on Highway 85 until you get to Lukeville. Cross the border at Lukeville into Sonoyta. This is fastest and most hassle-free crossing, so you should have no issues. From here, take MX Highway 8 south to Puerto Penasco. Boom!…you did it!
- San Diego/Tijuana: High traffic, lots of security, Long wait times.
- Tecate: Remote crossing, not close to any major highways.
- Calexico/Mexicali: Slightly long wait times coming into the USA. Usually fast going into Mexico.
- Andrade/Los Algodones: Short wait times.
- Yuma/San Luis: Short wait times.
- Lukeville/Sonoyta: Easy and hassle free crossing from both sides. Closest access point to Puerto Penasco.
Puerto Penasco can be thought of as having four separate sections. You’ve got the main downtown area known as “Rocky Point” where all the shops, bars and restaurants live. The coastline here, as you might have guessed is essentially a rocky peninsula. Stretching out on either side of the town center are two long stretches of sand. These areas are mainly occupied by vacation homes and rentals. And inland from the central “Rocky Point” area, you have the local residential area.
If you’re traveling here, you will probably find yourself in the central “Rocky Point” area, or one of the stretches of sand on either side of it.
Things To Do in Puerto Penasco (Rocky Point):
Deep Sea Fishing:
Deep Sea Fishing is a popular way to kill time in between cervezas in Puerto Penasco. Boats can be chartered from numerous places along the main streets in the town center.
Four Wheeling is great in this area and they can also be rented from the main streets in the town center. Here, you can get everything from standard 4-Wheelers, Motocross Bikes and other types of more aggressive off-road vehicles. The desert awaits!
Not into doing stuff? Don’t worry, Puerto Penasco has two stretches of long sandy beach for you to chill out on. Keep in mind, these are not “rent a chair and have a drink served to you” type of beaches. They have a quieter and more secluded feeling.
Yes, drinking! There’s a solid amount of drinking that can be done here, whether you’re on Spring Break or not. The town center around “Rocky Point” has enough good party spots to keep you sloppy for a few days, all of which are right along El Malecon.
Things To See Around Puerto Penasco:
The only real major attraction outside of Puerto Penasco is the “Reserva de la Biosfera El Pinacate y Gran Desierto”. This UNESCO World Heritage site is a volcanic system that includes three major peaks; Pinacate, Carnegie and Medio. Its also one of the most significant visible land forms in North America that can be seen from space.
To get to the park, take MX Highway 8 north our of Puerto Penasco and turn when you see the signs for Pinacate.
Is It Dangerous?
For the most part….No, its not dangerous here. However, like anywhere in Mexico be cautious, be nice and don’t be a douche-bag. Also, don’t be a target more than you have to. If you can do that, you should be fine.
What To Bring With You:
- Pesos: Actually US dollars will work at most places around here, but personally I prefer to have some local currency.
- Mexican Auto Insurance: Yup, you DO need Mexican Auto Insurance in Mexico. No, your USA coverage will not be sufficient. You can get this online before you go, or at the border just before you cross into Mexico.
- FMM: This is basically a Tourist Permit. You can get it online or at the border. Although, I’ve never actually been given one. I guess they keep forgetting.
- Passport: The days of just having your USA drivers license are over. Now you must have your passport. Bummer.
- Drivers License: Take it if you’re driving…why not?
That’s about it. Go have fun! Keep in mind this is still no Cancun or Cabo, so don’t expect that same degree of tourist infrastructure, development or luxury. At the same time, its no off-the-beaten path destination. Puerto Penasco lies somewhere in between the two extremes.