Rocky Point: Tourist Trap or Coastal Gem?

One of the many resorts in Rocky Point


One of the many resorts in Rocky Point

Jacob Pieczynski, Contributor

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Over Christmas Break, my family and I had the opportunity to travel to Puerto Peñasco, more commonly known as Rocky Point, a touristy city in Northern Mexico. It is a city known for its fishing and numerous resorts facing out into the Gulf of California. The crystal-clear waters provide a great place for travelers to scuba dive or snorkel. There are sunset cruises, ATV rentals, horseback rides, and many other things to do.

The main way to reach Rocky Point from Arizona is to drive down to either Why or Lukeville, Arizona, onto the I-8. At the Lukeville Port of Entry, you will enter into Sonoyta, Mexico. My family took this route two days after Christmas, and the waits at the border were almost nothing. It was a seamless process that took less than 20 minutes, in the middle of the day. One of our biggest worries was the wait times at the border, but it was completely hassle-free.

Sonoyta is one of the poorer towns in Mexico, with many street vendors throughout. There were several run-down buildings and others that looked like they had stopped mid-construction. About half the cars were from the United States while the other half had Mexican license plates. Again, we had no trouble getting through and traffic was minimal. Entering, you must remember to switch to kilometers and liters, as Mexico uses the metric system. On the I-8, the average speed is 90kmh or about 55 MPH. In Mexico, we learned that when it comes to traffic, the police rarely interfere and traveling 10-20 KMH faster than the speed limit is expected. If you are traveling the speed limit, expect to get passed.

After driving about 90km, just around Puerto Peñasco, we reached the place my family was serving – an organization called 1Mission, a charity that builds houses for the poor in Puerto Peñasco. Each family is assigned a team, and for three days you drive over to the plot of land the family has bought and build a house for them. 1Mission has recently implemented a new house model that is double the size of the original and includes running water and electricity. This is much better for the families but now takes four weekends to build instead of the original one. This was a very eye-opening experience for everybody involved as the whole group got to make friends with the family, even though there was a language barrier. We experienced poverty, and everybody left the trip with a greater idea of what other people’s lives look like.

Driving down to Puerto Peñasco, you will pass grand mountain ranges and fields full of purple and yellow flowers. The weather was cool the whole week we stayed there, however it was pretty windy on the last few days. After we served with 1Mission for a few days, we got to stay in one of the many condo buildings on the beach. It was right past the city center, and there were stores, restaurants, and little shops everywhere. In my opinion, one of the best restaurants there is Tacos & Mariscos Guss, on Calle 13. It is open air and just the smell alone makes you know the food is going to be great. There are numerous Mexican restaurants, but if you are in the mood for American or Japanese food, you will easily find it.

There are many things to do in Puerto Peñasco, and most are ridiculously cheap. There are miles of beach and crystal clear water to walk in and the views are spectacular. During the day, the tide goes out more than 200 yards, leaving many large shells and some sea creatures stranded. The shells are huge and easy to collect. There are ATV rentals on what seems like every corner with many places to ride them. Due to less of a traffic police presence than in the United States, really anybody can ride them anywhere, just be smart about it. Often, you will get a better deal at restaurants and for excursions, if you use Pesos, which is easy because there are currency exchanges on every corner. Just make sure you are getting the best rate for your dollar.

We returned the day after New Year’s and the border crossing was a zoo. Many people were driving back up to the United States, so it took almost an hour and a half to get through the border. Nevertheless, the trip was very safe and we were not harassed at all. We didn’t see an instance where any of the stereotypes about traveling to Mexico came true. It was very smooth and an all-around enjoyable trip. Rocky Point is definitely not a tourist trap, but quite a fun vacation.

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