Puerto Peñasco is a fast transforming fishing village in the desert state of Sonora, connecting the Baja California Peninsula and the rest of Mexico, about 62 miles south of the border of Arizona. Because of the lack of water there was no permanent residents here until a rail line was built in the 1930s. Since then it has bloomed into a popular beach, and fishing, locale for people from California, Arizona and Nevada, who call it Rocky Point.
Another one of its many nicknames is “Arizona’s Beach” because of the proximity of Tucson, Phoenix and Yuma. To promote tourism, Puerto Peñasco was declared part of the border “free zone,” meaning Americans can drive there without obtaining a visa. It has become a major tourist center in a short amount of time, with numerous hotels and camping/RV sites. An abundance of beautiful beaches, paired with an impressive display of marine life has prompted beachside homes, plans for condominiums, malls, marinas and golf courses. The Mayan Palace resort has just added an entire new upper level units called the Grand Mayan Puerto Penasco , Both are east of town about 20 minutes.
While a convenient trek just across the border, caution should be used when undertaking this journey. The U.S. State Department has issued a travel warning for the state of Sonora, citing an uptick in assaults against Americans since 2012. Cartel activity, carjacking and highway robbery are the situations to be aware of. However, since this safety warning was announced, the Mexican government has provided more funding and police officers to these areas.
However, travelers should follow safety tips from the State Department to avoid any such circumstances. Some of the major advice is to use the Sonoyta border crossing at Lukesville, Ariz. to spend the shortest time on the road in Mexico en route to Puerto Peñasco, and driving only when the sun is up. While in the city, be a low key traveler, not flaunting wealth and just be aware of your surroundings; catch cabs only from designated taxi stands.
The Most Important Tip
In the end, the most important safety tip is to stay away from illegal activities yourself, or from people who are participating in those things. Unfortunately, bad things can happen anywhere, but using common sense and some specific safety tips should ensure a pleasant vacation and get you home safely. Keep these mind when traveling as well:
- Stay on major thoroughfares where most other tourists travel
- Never walk alone, especially at night, and be vigilant about using ATMs
- Don’t wear jewelry or carry flashy handbags that might make you a target for pickpockets
- When visiting bars and nightclubs, keep an eye on your drink
- Don’t drink alcohol excessively
- Wear your seatbelt (even though most locals don’t)