Located just over an hour’s drive from the U.S. border, Puerto Peñasco (Rocky Point) is a Mexican fishing town that caters to an evergrowing audience of beach-starved Arizona residents. The resort is somewhat reinventing itself, trying to recast its image as more than just a hangout for the RV and camper crowd.
It now lures more and more resort-oriented vacationers as facilities and lodging improve. Most visitors arrive by private auto, entering through the Mexican city of Sonoita (opposite Lukeville, AZ). The drive takes about 90 minutes (100 km.) via Route 8. The two-lane road (recently widened) is in excellent shape. From Phoenix and Tucson, the distance is 210 miles (about a four and a half hour drive).
Since Puerto Peñasco is within Sonora’s “Free Trade Zone,” visitors do not need to comply with vehicle importation requirements, nor is a proof of citizenship/ tourist card required. (Note: It’s a good idea to carry proof of citizenship anyway). Mexican auto insurance is, of course highly recommended, and can easily be obtained in Lukeville at several roadside agencies.
The city has a reported population of 30,000 residents, although it seems smaller. This is partly due to its sprawling layout and the area’s rather distinct visitor and residential districts. The original settlement dates back to the 1920’s when the town was American enclaves (listed from south to north) Playa Hermosa, Playa Bonita, Sandy Beach, and Cholla Bay. Backing Sandy Beach is a series of large sand dunes buzzing with ATV and dune buggies during the high season winter months and summer weekends.
Much of Puerto Peñasco’s development caters to either long-stay “snow-bird” RV/mobile home visitors (often retirees from California, Arizona, Colorado). Weekend campers and RV owners are now being joined by a growing number of hotel/resort guests who frequent the area’s dozen lodging establishments, which are mostly three star properties plus some upscale condo projects along Playa Bonita and Sandy Beach. Most RV parks, campgrounds, and hotels are clustered along Playa Miramar and Playa Hermosa/Playa Bonita.