Today I’m sharing my recent Travel Column post over at Sally Cronin‘s Blog Magazine. This month we’re going to an almost secret hidden gem in Mexico – Puerto Penasco.
Welcome to this month’s edition of the Travel Column at the Smorgasbord. I’ve chosen a not-so-well known little gem of a place, Puerto Peñasco, for a tropical escape in Mexico that I discovered while watching a destination show on TV. This little town is a port town in the north-western part of Mexico where apparently, quite a few American desert dwellers like to flock to for a sand and sea getaway. This gem was not commonly known to world travelers, and I was quite fascinated by this quaint little place and don’t imagine it will be long before many more tourists will soon be hearing more as the popularity continues to grow.
In the Northwestern Mexican state of Sonora, a mere 62 miles south of the border between Mexico and Arizona, lies a beautiful resort town called Puerto Peñasco. Puerto Peñasco is situated on the northern shore of the Sea of Cortez, a small piece of land which links the Baja California Peninsula with the rest of Mexico. This area is considered very dry and a part of one of the hottest parts of the Sonoran Desert – also known as the Altar Desert, boasting a population of almost 65,000 inhabitants, many of them ex-pats.
It wasn’t until the late 1990s that the area was developed to bring in tourism and is now fast becoming quite a popular tourist destination in northern Mexico. Is it any wonder desert dwellers in the U.S. flock to this town to escape the hot desert sun for some sand sea respite? In fact, despite the familiar name it’s been dubbed – ‘Rocky Point’, it has also become a popularly nicknamed destination – ‘Arizona’s Beach’ for its close proximity to the U.S., making for quick holiday escapes for many Arizonians – a mere 4 hour drive from Tucson.
Puerto Peñasco also has its own privately built airport since 2009 -Mar de Cortes International. Although it’s said the airport has the capacity to host a Boeing 747, the airport currently only has private and charter flights in and out – to and from Phoenix’s smaller, Deer Valley Airport, and apparently, 2 charter airlines fly there weekly to and from Las Vegas! A larger international airport is currently a project in the works.
The resort town thrives on tourism and fishing for their economy to grow, boasting over 40 hotels/motels, over 100 restaurants and RV facilities. There is even a new cruise ship terminal currently under construction – meaning – this little gem of paradise won’t be long before the world learns about this new hot spot.
A Bit of History
Back in 1826, A British Royal Navy officer, Robert William Hale Hardy, sailed the area in search of precious metals and pearls and dubbed the area ‘Rocky Point’ on maps until it was later changed in the 1930s by President Cardenas to Puerto Punta Peñasco.
Prior to 1920 the area was a place where fishermen frequented for safe harbor, a place to stay while working the fishing seasons. As early as the 19th century, fisherman came to this area from Arizona, but there was yet to be any viable drinking water there back then which hampered any kind of settlement at the time. One of the main attractions for the fishermen in this area was to fish for a specific fish – ‘totoaba’, this particular fish wasn’t prized for its meat, but for its medicinal properties.
In the 1930s a railroad was constructed to connect Mexico to Baja California, enabling the town of Puerto Peñasco to flourish and creating new population growth as the city grew in development with a new port, and shrimp fishing became popular there by the 1940s.
By the 1950s, Puerto Peñasco became its own municipality, but it wasn’t until the 1990s that tourism took off there. Until the 90s, it was just a port for mainly fishermen and campers. . . Please continue reading at Sally’s blog.