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 Penasco.
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 almost everyone else.
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The beach town of Puerto Penasco is just 3.5 hours from Phoenix, 4 hours from Tucson, and a 5.5-hour drive from San Diego. I’ve visited Rocky Point for two vacations and can’t wait to head back again.
Top Things to do in Puerto Penasco, Mexico: Where to Eat, Play and Stay
If you want to vacation in Puerto Peñasco, Mexico I’ve got recommendations for where to stay, where to eat, and things to do! Here are my absolute favorite things to do in Puerto Peñasco, Mexico.
Where to stay in Puerto Peñasco in 2023
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.
A daily kids club offers arts and crafts, games, and other fun activities. There is a 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.
23 Best Things To Do In Puerto Peñasco in 2023
With its captivating scenery and wide range of activities, you won’t have a hard time finding 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 charm and also offers modern, luxurious resorts.
When visiting a new place it can be a struggle 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. It’s a beautiful time to walk the wide stretch of sand and collect seashells.
2. Snorkel in the Sea of Cortez
Puerto Penasco is located on the Sea of Cortez (aka the Gulf of California.) The clear blue water is great for both snorkeling and scuba diving.
Some of the top scuba and snorkeling spots in the area are located in Cholla Bay and Bird Island. You can charter a boat from Cholla Bay for a great snorkeling excursion that will have more marine because the bay is deeper.
If you want to snorkel from the beach the best options are Tucson Beach and Playa Mirador (near Manny’s Beach Club).
Tucson Beach is calm and doesn’t get much wind. It’s located near Cholla Bay and Playa Mirador.
Playa Mirador has a lot of rocks, which makes for good snorkeling. Bird Island offers the overall best experience. These spots generally have clear and warm waters that are more ideal for scuba diving and snorkeling.
One thing to know: the tide in Puerto Peñasco rises and falls every 6 hours so you should plan to be in the water at incoming tide, high tide, or one hour before the outgoing tide. These times will have the best visibility.
3. Explore Tide Pools
Puerto Penasco’s waters have some of the best tide pooling in the world because of its dramatic tidal fluctuation. Tidepools are visible at low tide. This is when the water recedes to reveal pools of ocean water trapped along the shoreline.
4. Collect Seashells along the Seashore
Collecting shells on the beach in Rocky Point is wonderful, especially at low tide. You’ll find shells on all the beaches, but the locals know that “Shell beach”; a remote beach north of Cholla bay, is the best beach for shells.
Lobos is the best place to find Conch and Murex shells. Also, from Playa Encanto there are a lot of roads that will take you down to the Playas east of town with loads of shells.
Lastly, Las Conchas is a 6-mile-long stretch of beach that is mostly sandy where you can walk way out in many places even when the tide is not out. Lots of shells here
5. 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 twice 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. Señorita Rita can also be hired privately subject to availability.
6. Explore The Puerto Peñasco Malecon
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!
7. Take a Day Trip to El Pinacate UNESCO Biosphere Reserve
Mexico has 34 UNESCO sites to explore and one happens to be located just 40 minutes from Puerto Peñasco. El Pinacate Unesco World Heritage site is locateded 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.
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.
8. Tequila Tasting At Manny’s Tequila Factory
The Tequila Factory is a family-owned business that has been owned and expanded through the last three generations. Manny is a true character and has some great stories to share if you visit the Tequila shop.
A Tequila tasting includes a talk about the history of Tequila, and 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
9. Visit Laguna Del Mar to Kayak and Paddleboard
You’ll find a lot of things to do at Laguna Del Mar; everything from snorkeling to golfing for a fun afternoon. There’s a paddleboard rental on site as well as kayaks, paddle boats, and golf.
Surrounded by wildlife, the translucent blue waters of the lagoon span 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.
10. 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 about upcoming perforamces.
11. Rent an ATV in Rocky Point & Explore the Dunes
Javie’s ATV Rentals offers a great ATV 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.
12. Visit The Seashell Museum
The small museum is located on C. Ramón Figueroa off Av. Constitucion. The owner, Naomi is extremely knowledgeable and informative about all the different kinds of seashells in the Pacific Ocean and Sea of Cortez. The museum is great for both kids and adults and also has a cute boutique with some unique pieces for sale. It will be hard to look at seashells the same way after visiting the museum and chatting with Naomi.
13. 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.
14. Street Art Galery
Dive deeper into the world of local street art with a visit to the Street Art Galery. Located on Blvd. Benito Juárez García near Centro, this gallery allows you to see artists at work. There are also finished pieces of art for sale and regular art shows.
15. 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.
16. 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
17. 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.
18. Take a Banana Boat Ride
Banana boats are inflatable boats shaped just like a banana. They are connected to a speedboat that pulls them 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.
19. 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 prices in Mexico! Jet Ski vendors are found on the beach as well on the main roads near downtown.
20. Book a Massage
On my second visit to Puerto Penasco, we rented a house. Shortly after we arrived, a tamale vendor, a jewelry vendor, and a masseuse stopped by on their daily rounds of the rental homes. We all booked a massage and had her return the next day for several of us to have a 2nd massage.
If you aren’t lucky enough to have a masseuse show up at your doorstep, I recommend La Bella Spa which is located on C. Manuel Arista.
21. 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 from various vendors in the downtown area.
22. Savor a Michelada or Pina Colada
Try a michelada (a Mexican Cerveza prepared with beer, lime juice, assorted sauces, spices, and peppers) or my favorite — a Pina Colada in a pineapple. Delicioso!
23. Enjoy a Margarita
Can you visit Mexico without a Margarita? Well, I can’t! Every restaurant in town will offer this delicious tequila-based cocktail, but my favorite place to enjoy it is at La Casa Del Capitan. Not only is the Margarita authentic, but the views are spectacular!
Eat: Best Puerto Penasco Restaurants
There is a wide range of restaurants serving local delicacies and traditional Mexican dishes. 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 in Rocky Point.
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 also 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
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 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
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- Mazatlán Food Culture: Beyond Shrimp & Pacifico Beer
- Celebrating The Queen’s of Baja’s Culinary Landscape