Puerto Peñasco, also known as Rocky Point, is a beautiful beach resort destination in northwestern Mexico. I recently discovered this hidden gem and found a surprisingly large list of fun things to do in Puerto Peñasco.
Tucked away in the north of Sonora, Puerto Peñasco is a largely undiscovered destination located on the tranquil Sea of Cortez. Rocky Point is just four hours south of Tucson and about three and a half hours from Phoenix. That makes it an especially popular beach vacation destination for Arizona folks, but off the radar for most everyone else.
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I live in San Diego, just 5.5 hours from Rocky Point, and I only recently discovered this beach town. I’ve since visited on two vacations and can’t wait to head back again.
If you want to vacation in Puerto Peñasco, I’ve got recommendations for where to stay, where to eat, and things to do!
Where to stay in Puerto Peñasco in 2022
There are 12 resorts and hotels in Puerto Peñasco, along with a countless number of apartment rentals and small bed and breakfasts. I can share my top four favorite Puerto Penasco hotels. One hotel is my overall favorite, one is a value pick, another is a family choice, and there is also a budget pick in there too.
Luxury – Las Palomas Beach And Golf Resort. Built in the Sandy Beach district (Playa Arenosa) of Puerto Peñasco, this resort is very popular and has everything from swim-up bars and infinity pools to a golf course and luxury condos.
Las Palomas Resort works with many local businesses helping to arrange tickets for multiple excursions such as deep-sea fishing, parasailing, snorkeling, scuba diving, horseback riding, hiking, whale watching, and much more.
The complex hosts a full gym and luxury spa facility with the option of participating in Zumba, beach volleyball, aqua aerobics, Mexican bingo, and many more activities.
Featuring two restaurants and two snack bars on site, Las Palomas Resort offers everything you could possibly need. Las Palomas Resort is the only Puerto Peñasco resort to have been awarded a 4-diamond rating from AAA. After stepping inside this palatial haven you will see why.
Family Choice – Penasco Del Sol Hotel. A slightly less expensive, but beautiful option is situated just minutes from Puerto Peñasco’s nightlife and main tourist hot spots. Each fresh, modern room boasts ravishing views of the Sea Of Cortez and is a great place for families with younger children.
The hotel offers several booking packages to suit every need and also has car rental services on site. Peñasco Del Sol Hotel holds a three-diamond rating and is very popular among families.
There is a daily kids club that offers arts and crafts, games and other fun activities. There is large swimming pool and of course easy access to the beach. Peñasco Del Sol is among the very few hotels that allow pets for an additional charge.
Boutique Hotel – The Dream Weaver Inn – This is the perfect hotel if you want a quieter escape and are willing to sacrifice direct access to the beach. Although not every room has sea views, there is a communal patio that provides sensational views of the beach and the Sea Of Cortez. The Rocky Point hotel offers a shuttle to the beach trail and also offers spacious rooms.
Budget Choice – Hotel Senorial– A budget alternative, and still in an amazing location. Walking distance to the beach and a central location to base yourself for a Puerto Penasco adventure.
Compare Puerto Peñasco Hotels and VRBO
The best areas to rent a VRBO is the Las Conchas neighborhood or Cholla Bay. Homes are located on the beach or within walking distance.
My favorite travel insurance for Mexico: One last thing before you get started planning your vacation to Rocky Point! Have you looked into travel insurance for Mexico yet? You can find the best deal on travel insurance here and learn why you should not travel without it.
14 Best Things To Do In Puerto Peñasco in 2022
With its captivating scenery and wide-range of activities, you won’t be lost for things to do in Puerto Peñasco. When visiting Puerto Peñasco you get to experience the best of both worlds: Rocky Point is a small-town with traditional Mexican characteristics, but it also offers modern, luxurious resorts.
Most of the time when you are visiting a new place you can find yourself struggling to decide what to schedule into your itinerary. Here are my top recommendations for things to do in Puerto Peñasco.
1. Head to the Beach
It’s all about the beach and the Sea of Cortez in Puerto Peñasco. The beaches are wide and offer plenty of opportunities for swimming, kayaking, fishing, snorkeling and collecting shells.
The closest Rocky Point beach to the center of town is Playa Bonita (Pretty Beach) which stretches to the west until it turns into Playa Arenosa (Sandy Beach). These are the two beaches where you will find most of the Rocky Point resorts.
Make sure to head to the beach during low tide, as it can retreat up to a mile or more depending on the time of year.
2. Señorita Rita Sunset Cruise
To fully experience the phenomenal Rocky Point sunset, jump aboard the Señorita Rita Cruise. This two-hour cruise offers an open bar serving a selection of cocktails and draft beer with the option of sandwiches, chips, and other snacks.
Departing from the marina, Señorita Rita sails two times a day; at 3 pm and 5.45 pm. The dolphins usually make an appearance during sailing times so make sure you bring your camera!
Prices are $25 for adults and $10 for children. The Señorita Rita can also be hired privately subject to availability.
3. Explore The Puerto Peñasco Malecon
Wandering on the boardwalk alongside the Sea Of Cortez is the main street known as the Malecon. Here you will discover traditional restaurants, an all-around shopping experience, and street food with amazing flavor.
The Malecon in Puerto Peñasco is also where you can find most of the bars and nightclubs in town. If you want to party when you are in Rocky Point, this is the place. You’ll also find the iconic “Puerto Peñasco” sign here, a definite photo opp!
4. El Pinacate UNESCO Biosphere Reserve
Mexico has 34 UNESCO sites to explore and one of them happens to be located just 40 minutes from Puerto Peñasco. El Pinacate Unesco World Heritage site is positioned in the barren land of the Sonoran Desert lays a cluster of volcanic peaks and cinder cones.
Ten huge craters can be found at the site which are believed to have been formed by volcanic eruptions. During the 1960s astronauts were sent to the Gran Desierto De Altar for training as NASA believes that the terrain shares many similarities to that of the moon.
During your stay in Puerto Peñasco why not go and Visit The Moon In Mexico?
How to get El Pinacate: If you are traveling from the United States, El Pinacate is most easily accessed from Arizona, The Pinacate Reserve Information Center is located just off Highway 8, at milepost Km 52, just 32 miles south of Lukeville, Arizona.
5. Tequila Tasting At Manny’s Tequila Factory
The Tequila Factory is a family-owned business that has been owned and expanded through the last 3 generations. Manny is a true character and has some great stories to share during a visit to the shop.
A Tequila tasting includes a talk about the history of Tequila, the process to make tequila, as well as a tasting of 6 types of tequila (blanco, reposado, anejo, triple distilled, antiguo, and gold) plus a tasting of a selection of flavored tequilas.
Since tequila is Mexico’s trademark alcoholic beverage, you have to sip at least one. Heading over for a tequila tasting session at Manny’s Tequila Factory allows for a true taste of Mexico.
Tequila Factory Location: Blvd. Benito Juarez Entre calle 12 y 13, Centro, 83550 Puerto Peñasco, Son., Mexico
6. Visit Laguna Del Mar to Kayak and Paddleboard
You’ll find a lot of things to do at Laguna Del Mar, with everything from snorkeling to golfing to keep you occupied. There’s a paddleboard rental on site as well as kayak, paddle boats and golf hire.
Surrounded by wildlife, the translucent blue waters of the lagoon spans roughly 40 acres and weaves between land, golf course and water. It’s the perfect spot for water sports on those slightly more windy days.
7. Listen To The Best Mexican Jazz Band In Puerto Peñasco
Immerse yourself in the colorful cultural music of Mexico by seeking out the Mexican jazz band Agua De Coco. The band performs around many of Rocky Point’s hot spots throughout the week and offers a great night of entertainment.
This 5-member jazz band is very popular within the region and has gained a loyal following throughout the years. You will often see them advertised around town or you can find Agua De Coco’s Facebook page for more details on where they are next performing.
8. Drive An ATV in Rocky Point
Javie’s ATV Rentals offers a great hire service to help you explore Puerto Penasco. You can drive them on the paved roads in town as well through the nearby sand dunes.
Puerto Peñasco provides many daring off-roading spots to get that adrenaline pumping. Hiring an ATV is one of the most thrilling activities in Puerto Penasco. It also makes it even easier to explore the neighboring Sonoran Desert and race along the sand dunes.
Javie’s ATV Rentals is located at C. Plutarco Elias Calles Etre 14 y 15 & you can reach him by cell (638) 109-8555 or (638) 107-8086.
9. Explore the Street Art
There is a thriving art community in Rocky Point that includes fine artists as well as street artists. When you visit the Puerto Peñasco Malecon area, venture off the main shopping street and you’ll find a variety of street art and artist-focused graffiti. Most of these murals have been created by a group of 12 local street artists. One of the best things to do in Rocky Point for art lovers.
10. Visit Isla San Jorge aka Bird Island
This is a boat tour from Puerto Penasco (Rocky Point) to swim with the sea lions that breed on Isla San Jorge. If you are lucky you’ll see sea lion pups playing in the water. There are quite a few charters that will take you to Bird island and most charters provide snorkeling gear as well as food and drinks. One of the most reputable charters is Del Mar Charters and they can be reached at (520) 407-6054.
11. Visit the Rocky Point Oyster Farm
La Ostionera, also known as The Rocky Point Oyster farm is just a few miles from downtown Puerto Penasco. Simply take the road to Caborca by Las Conchas to the Oyster Farms. Here you’ll be able to learn about oysters and sample some of the best oysters in North America.
Rocky Point Oyster Farm Address: Estero Morua, 83553 Puerto Peñasco, Son., Mexico
12. Play Golf on a Jack Nicklaus Course
The Nicklaus Design Course at Vidanta Puerto Peñasco is a challenging 18-hole, 7,200-yard course, par 72 with spectacular panoramic views of the sea. Golfweek Magazine named the course one of the best in Mexico.
13. Take a Banana Boat Ride
Banana boats are an inflatable boat shaped just like a banana. They are connected to a speedboat that pulls it in the sea. It’s a bit of a thrill ride as most boats go quite fast and some take turns to up the thrill! Rocky Point is a perfect place for a banana boat ride when the sea is calm and glassy. Rides in Puerto Penasco cost between $10 and $20. Vendors can be found at most public beaches.
14. Ride a Jet Ski
You can rent jet skis in Puerto Penasco for one or two people. The best time to ride is early morning, or when the sea is calm.
Rentals are priced starting at a half hour and run about $60-$80 per hour. Remember it’s okay to negotiate price in Mexico! Jet Ski vendors are found on the beach as well on the main roads near downtown.
Eat: Best Puerto Penasco Restaurants
Hosting a wide range of restaurants serving local delicacies, hot favorites, and traditional dishes, you will certainly leave with some kitchen inspiration. Here are five of Puerto Peñasco’s top-rated restaurants.
La Casa Del Capitan
Holding the reputation of having the best margaritas in Puerto Peñasco, this beach-facing restaurant offers a view like no other. Located on the hill overlooking the town, good timing and a pre-booked table will enable you to witness one of the most beautiful sunsets you will ever see.
La Case Del Capital is located at: Av Camino del Agua s/n, El Puerto, 83554 Puerto Peñasco, Son., Mexico
El Tapeo Wine Bar
If it’s great wine you’re after, El Tapeo offers the largest selection in Puerto Peñasco. It is one of the best places for live music in town.
With traditional décor and enough tapas to feed you for a week, El Tapeo is definitely a Rocky Point restaurant to seek out during your stay. If you go, I highly recommend the paella and reserving a table on the outside patio.
El Tapeo is located at: Bella Vista, 83553 Puerto Peñasco, Sonora, Mexico
Located onsite at the Las Palomas Beach And Golf Resort, the Citron Restaurant serves both traditional Mexican and specialty dishes including vegetarian pasta, fish and juicy steaks.
This is a great spot if you want to ease away from the spice and instead enjoy a juicy steak. The Citron Restaurant also offers a wonderful 2 for 1 happy hour at the bar.
The restaurant has live entertainment many nights each week. During my visit, the Agua De Coco jazz band played.
The Mayan Palace in Vidanta, Puerto Peñasco is the most private resort in Rocky Point. Home to the largest lazy river in Latin America, this resort has a lot to offer.
As the resort is private you generally have to be a member to use the facilities, however, you can still enjoy a stroll through the luscious gardens and dine at the restaurants.
For the best waterfront dining in Puerto Penasco, head to El Oktopus. Beautifully situated in the old port of Puerto Peñasco, this restaurant has two floors and incredible views of the Sea Of Cortez from the second-floor terrace.
El Oktopus offers affordable prices for fantastic food and service. Some of their signature dishes include Asian-Inspired Tostadas, Ahi Salad, Shrimp Sonoran, Tacos, Comida Del MarRocket, and of course Octopus.
El Oktpus is located at: Circunvalación y o Malecón Kino 26, El Puerto, 83550 Puerto Peñasco, Son., Mexico
Street Vendors on the Malecon
Make sure to try a few of the street vendors selling food and delicious drinks. You’ll find everything from Sonoran style hot dogs, seafood cocktails, fruit and of course cocktails.
Try a michelada (a Mexican Cerveza prepared with beer, lime juice, and assorted sauces, spices, and peppers) or my favorite — a Pina Colada in a pineapple. Delicioso!
Puerto Penasco Travel Tips
- U.S. dollars and credit/debit cards are widely accepted.
- Some restaurants, vendors, and taxis only accept cash, so bring some.
- Try to avoid ATMs in resort lobbies because the fees can be hefty.
- Drink bottled water (not the tap water).
- Brush your teeth with bottled water.
- All hotels and restaurants use bottled water for their ice and drinks. Always ask to double-check, but you can rest assured the water will be filtered.
- There is a wide range of hotels, from budget to luxury. I recommend Las Palomas Beach & Golf Resort which is currently the #1 hotel on Tripadvisor.
- For a mid-level hotel, I recommend Penasco Del Sol, It’s a great location in the city center, but located on a very quiet street. The hotel rate includes a wonderful breakfast as well.
- For a budget hotel, try the Hospedaje Mulege.
- You can also check HotelsCombined for the best Puerto Penasco hotel rates.
- I’m a fan of World Nomads travel insurance for short-term trips. Protect yourself from possible injury and theft abroad. Read more about why you should always carry travel insurance here.
- Don’t forget your passport as you will need it when you return to the United States.
Where is Puerto Penasco?
Puerto Peñasco is a small town located in the Mexican state of Sonora on a small strip of land that joins the Baja California Peninsula with the rest of Mexico. It is located 62 miles from the Arizona border. It is often referred to as Arizona’s beach because Puerto Penasco is located on the Sea of Cortez.
Driving Directions To Puerto Peñasco
Driving to Puerto Peñasco is fairly simple. Rocky Point is less than 70-miles from the Arizona border. It’s four hours south of Tucson and about three and a half hours from Phoenix, It’s also just a 5.5-hour drive from San Diego.
You can take Interstate 10 heading towards Buckeye and then change to the AZ 85 to Gila Bend. Crossing from Arizona over the Mexican border you enter Lukeville, and from there you have about 68 miles to reach Puerto Peñasco.
Visiting El Pinacate? El Pinacate is located between Sonoyta and Puerto Peñasco, Mexico. Puerto Penasco is a great base for exploring El Pinacate.
If you are traveling from the United States, El Pinacate is most easily accessed from Arizona. The Pinacate Reserve Information Center is located just off Highway 8, at milepost Km 52, just 32 miles south of Lukeville, Arizona.
Puerto Penasco Weather
How is the Puerto Peñasco weather? The summers are hot and muggy, the winters are cool, and it is dry and mostly clear year-round. Over the course of the year, the temperature typically varies from 56°F to 95°F and is rarely below 50°F or above 99°F.
Still looking for more about Puerto Penasco? Check out fellow blogger, Katherine Belarmino’s 10 Fun Things to do in Puerto Penasco.
6 Indispensable Items to Pack for a Vacation in Puerto Penasco
- Get the Lonely Planet Mexico (Travel Guide).
- Don’t forget sunglasses for the beautiful sunny days. A.J. Morgan Unisex Sunglasses are a great choice and very affordable!
- Water Shoes are a great item to pack for any beach vacation. They take up little room when packing and are great if you end up at a beach that is rocky or with very hot sand.
Read More About Mexico
- A Cheese Cave, Wine Tasting and French Food in Baja
- Mazatlán Food Culture: Beyond Shrimp & Pacifico Beer
- Celebrating The Queen’s of Baja’s Culinary Landscape
Alexa Meisler is the editorial director of 52 Perfect Days. Born in Paris, France she has since lived in Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Portland, Oregon. She currently resides in San Diego with her husband and son where they enjoy exploring California and Mexico.
Travel has always been a part of her life; traveling to such places as Morocco, Tangiers and Spain as a young child as well as taking many road trips to Mexico with her grandparents as a young girl. Since then, she has traveled abroad to locations such as Russia, Taiwan and throughout Europe.
Prior to working at 52 Perfect Days she was a freelance travel writer; focusing on family and women’s adventure experiences.