Travel Tips: Rocky Point 101
By Nancy Clark-Puffer
The Arizona Republic
To many Arizonans, Puerto Peñasco, Mexico, is the ultimate beach holiday. It’s closer than San Diego, it’s less expensive, and it’s a lot less crowded.
People who have never been to the beach town, also known as Rocky Point, may be apprehensive because they don’t know how to travel into Mexico or how to find accommodations. It’s less complicated than many people think.
For starters, no special car permits are needed because Rocky Point lies within the Mexican free-trade zone.
Car insurance rocks
You should buy temporary Mexican auto insurance, which you can get through many insurers and AAA Arizona (www.aaa-arizona.com). You can buy policies from agents or online or at offices near the Mexican border.
You are not required to have Mexican auto insurance, and officials do not check for it at the border. But your U.S. auto insurance is not valid in Mexico, and, according to the U.S. Department of State, you could be jailed and your car impounded if you have an accident.
Prices vary based on length of stay and type of vehicle. Policies typically are sold in 24-hour increments. A policy that covers collision damage and liability would cost approximately $40 to $70 for a weekend. The State Department advises buying coverage amounts similar to what you carry in the United States.
Unless you plan to camp on the beach, it’s best to reserve a place to stay. There are choices for any budget, from cheap, no-frills motel rooms to $1,000-per-night oceanfront compounds with tennis courts and beachside whirlpool spas.
Tourist hotels include Plaza Las Glorias, Hotel Viña del Mar, Best Western Hotel Playa Inn and Playa Bonita. Depending on the room type, time of year and the hotel’s proximity to the beach, prices at hotels like these range from about $60 to $200 per night.
There also are several RV parks. Most have hookups, and some have laundry facilities, showers, restaurants and swimming pools. Spots cost $12 to $25 per night, depending on time of year and proximity to the beach.
Don’t drink the water
Do not drink any water from a tap. Water is not treated by the same standards as in the United States, so you risk intestinal infection. Always ask for bottled water, or order beer or soda instead. Most restaurants use ice made from bottled water, but it’s a good idea to ask your server before you order a margarita or other iced drink.
English is widely spoken, especially in restaurants and shopping districts, but it’s never a bad idea to brush up on Spanish phrases.
Many restaurants in Rocky Point are clean, safe and charming. The best rule of thumb is to avoid roadside taco stands. You can’t be sure how fresh or clean the food is, or how it was washed, stored and handled.
Larger restaurants are subject to health inspections, so you’re more likely to get a well-prepared meal. My favorite restaurants include Lily’s, La Curva and the Blue Marlin.
A few more pointers
Rocky Point has activities for everyone, including shopping, scuba diving, deep-sea fishing, sunset cruises, kayaking, four-wheeling, horseback riding, parasailing, watercraft rentals and a full-service spa.
After 16 years of traveling to Mexico, I’ve learned some things you won’t find in travel brochures. Always carry a pouch of tissues in your purse or pocket because restrooms are chronically out of toilet paper.
Expect to be deluged by people trying to sell you stuff, especially jewelry and trinkets. Politely say, “No, gracias,” and walk away if you’re not interested in buying.
Be prepared for the poverty in Mexico. Run-down homes and rusted cars are common. But most people are friendly.
Don’t assume your credit card will be accepted everywhere; some hotels don’t even accept them for reservations. Be sure to ask ahead of time, and bring plenty of cash, not checks or debit cards. U.S. currency is widely accepted, so there is no need to exchange money. Most of the time, you’ll get your change in dollars, not pesos.
Info to go
One of the best resources for information on traveling to Rocky Point is the English-language newspaper Rocky Point Times. Go to www.rptimes.com for information on lodging, restaurants, services, fishing charters and more.
What you’ll need
- Mexican auto insurance.
Popular places to eat, drink and party in Rocky Point include:
JJ’s Cantina. Famous place in Rocky Point where party goes on and on; situated right on the beach at la Cholla Bay, in Rocky Point, Sonora.
Mary’s. The best grilled garlic shrimp in all of Rocky Point. It is cooked fresh daily. Not to be missed.
Xcualo. A great dance Club and bar for your delight; it is located next door to the Fiesta de Cortez Hotel in Rocky Point, Sonora, Mexico.
Freida’s Video Bar. Music, drinks and fun are encountered at this bar located at Angulo Avenue in Rocky Point.
Grand Palace. This place can be found on Fremont Blvd., Rocky Point, Sonora, Mexico.
3 Hermanas. A unique place settled on Ferrocarril Avenue in Rocky Point, Sonora, Mexico
JJ’s Cantina. One of the most famous bars in Rocky Point located on Seaside Avenue.
Kanacho’s Sports Bar. Ready to watch your team playing live at this nice bar; located on Juarez Blvd. Rocky Point, Sonora, Mexico.
La Enramada. Another great spot for fun seekers, a place situated on Carranza Avenue in the city of Rocky Point, Sonora, Mexico.
Los Juanes Bar. Fun, friends and all types of drinks are available at this bar, situated on Matamoros Avenue, Rocky Point.
Pink Cadillac Diner. A famous restaurant and bar located on Matamoros Avenue in Rocky Point, Sonora, Mexico.
Oldies Bar. Come and enjoy a different type of bar in Rocky Point; oldies bar is situated at Juarez Blvd. in Rocky Point, Sonora, Mexico.
Pithaya Bar. A nice and wild bar for the enjoyment of young and not so young people; settled at Durango Avenue in Rocky Point, Sonora, Mexico.
Ranas Ranas. One of the typical and most famous nightclubs of Rocky Point situated on Sinaloa Avenue in Rocky Point, Sonora.
Puesta del Sol Bar. This nice bar is located at Playa Bonita Resort, where you will be able to enjoy your favorite drink; it is situated at Balboa Avenue in Rocky Point, Sonora.
Rocky Point Bar. Another nice bar of Rocky Point situated on Barrera Avenue.