Puerto Peñasco is a resort town located on the shores of the Sea of Cortez in the Mexican state of Sonora. It is often called “Rocky Point” in English and has been nicknamed “Arizona’s Beach” since it is closest to cities such as Phoenix, Tucson, and Yuma. From these cities, Puerto Peñasco is a short three or four-hour drive through the Arizona and Sonora deserts. Due to its proximity to the States, Rocky Point is a major travel destination for families, spring breakers, bachelors /bachelorette parties, and weddings.
The first time I visited Rocky Point in the 1990s, there were only two hotels on the main beach. Now there are more than a dozen. It’s crazy how much has changed over the last thirty years, but what never changes are the fun experiences you’re guaranteed to have in Puerto Peñasco.
What’s great about Rocky Point is the variety of activities. If you want a quick weekend getaway filled with relaxation or if you’re looking to party, you’ll find it. No matter what you’re looking for, Puerto Peñasco has it all.
Keep on reading for a list of the best things to do in Rocky Point – Puerto Peñasco, Mexico. You may not have enough time to do all the activities, but you’ll be able to pick your favorites and make it happen!
1. Enjoy A Massage On The Beach
Everyone wants to relax when they’re on vacation. So why not treat yourself to a massage?
If you’re staying at one of the resorts along the beach, you’ll see a few massage stations. Just wave down one of the masseuses, hop on a table, and enjoy the gentles sounds of the ocean as they rub your stress and worries away. Massages usually cost about $20.00 for half an hour, but depending on the day and season, prices may vary.
2. Explore Tide Pools
Puerto Peñasco is famous for its dramatic tidal fluctuations, and some of the best tide pools in the world. Exploring tide pools is fun to do with kids, but as an adult, it’s still something I love to do. You never know what you’re going to find!
Along the beach in Rocky Point, you may come across live starfish, crabs, anemones, sea slugs, octopus, conch, tadpoles, and more.
Tip: If you take shells, be sure to check for live animals inside first. You don’t want to pack seashells in your suitcase only to open it up at home to find something rotting.
One of the best ways to explore Rocky Point is on the water in a kayak. Kayaking is fun at any time of day and all year round, which makes it the perfect activity. The best part is, you don’t need any prior experience.
The water at Rocky Point is typically calm with little to no waves, and very clear. That means you can kayak as close or far out from shore as you’d like and still have excellent visibility of the sea life below. During my kayaking adventures, I’ve seen stingrays, jellyfish, schools of fish, and many color reefs.
The best times to kayak are right after sunrise when the water is the calmest or at sunset. Puerto Peñasco has amazing weather, so almost every day, you can expect a breathtaking, colorful sunset.
Some condo rentals come with kayaks; however, many companies in town offer kayak rentals. You can choose how long you’d like to rent and whether or not you’d like to pick it up or have them drop it off. Some companies even offer guided tours. Prices vary depending on the vendor, but the average cost for a single kayak is $15 per hour, $25 for half a day, or $35 for a full day. Sonoran Scuba, located at the Sonoran Sea Resort, also has kayaks, paddleboards, boogie boards, and skim boards for rent. To inquire about rentals, call 602-445-6382 ext 2100.
Another fun activity that’s perfect for anyone ages six and up is parasailing! While attached to a parachute pulled by a boat, you can soak in the incredible views of Rocky Point from a hundred feet above.
To book a parasailing adventure, head to the beach, and you’ll find the handler. The average price is $50 for one person or $100 for two people to fly at the same time. You can also contact Sonoran Scuba (602-445-6382) or Del Mar Charters about a parasailing excursion.
5. Whip Around On A Banana Boat
A banana boat ride is a must-do activity in Rocky Point. A banana boat is an inflatable raft/boat that holds up to eight people. The raft is pulled by a motorized boat with the intent to throw off the riders. If you don’t want to get thrown, you can ask your driver to slow down and take it easy, but what’s the fun in that?
If you’re interested in this thrilling adventure, head down to the beach and ask one of the vendors about banana boat rides. They will show you to the raft, and you’ll be on your way! Pricing varies, like all activities based on the beach, but they typically charge around $5 for a 10-minute ride. That may not seem like a lot of time, but believe me, it’s enough.
6. Kite Surfing
When the wind picks up in Puerto Peñasco, you’ll see many kite surfers close to shore. If you’re a beginner, a lesson is a must, since kite surfing can be tricky.
For lessons and equipment rentals, go through Rocky Point Kite Surfing located in Cholla Bay. You can email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
7. Jet Ski
Next to banana boating, jet skis are the most popular water activity. The calm waters and warm temperatures make Rocky Point the ideal location for riding at high speeds. It’s the one activity I look forward to every time I visit!
Like many of the water-based activities in Puerto Peñasco, you can find jet ski rentals on the beach through the locals. Just head down to the shore and ask. You can rent jet skis for one or two people and ride for half an hour at a minimum. Prices vary (like always), and range anywhere between $30 to $40 per half hour.
If you’re going to pay for one activity, I recommend jet skiing! It’s safe and fun!
8. Fly Over The Beach During An Ultralight Flight
Ultralight planes are small, lightweight aircraft used for recreation. There are no windows or doors to obstruct your view, so going on an ultralight flight is the perfect way to see Rocky Point from above.
During the flight, you are accompanied by an experienced pilot. Each flight lasts between 8-15 minutes and costs around $50. Typically, people who offer jet ski and parasailing tours also offer ultralight flight tours as well, so head to the beach and ask. Or you can contact Sonoran Scuba for a tour at 602-445-6382.
Tip: If you decide to go on an ultralight flight, be sure to bring a Go-Pro or action camera of sorts to capture this unique experience.
9. Rocky Point Zip Line
Does zooming 30 mph through the air and over the desert sound exhilarating??? Then you have to book a tour with Rocky Point Zipline.
Ziplining is a relatively new activity in Puerto Peñasco that quickly became a favorite among tourists. Since 2017, Rocky Point Zipline has taken the town by storm with one of the biggest ziplines in Mexico. The course consists of five zip lines with lengths from 300 ft to 2ooo ft and heights up to 150 ft. If this doesn’t get your adrenaline pumping, I don’t know what will! Plus, the zip line course has impressive views of the Sea of Cortez and surrounding mountains.
The tour costs $60 and takes about 1.5 hours to complete.
10. Ride ATVs Through The Desert
Most people who visit Rocky Point stick to the beach, but there is so much more to explore. Riding an ATV is the best way to explore the rugged desert terrain of Puerto Peñasco.
I remember the first time I went to Rocky Point, my family and I rented out ATVs to ride along the beach. Unfortunately, riding ATVs on the beach is no longer allowed. But there are tons of off-road locations around town and near Playa Encanto, Cholla Bay, Sand Beach, and Las Conchas. One of the best places to off-road is Competition Hill, located next to Cholla Bay. Why??? Because the hill has 300 foot long runs with a 30-degree slope!
You can find ATV rentals throughout the town just off the side of the road. The average price is $20 per hour.
11. Horseback Ride Along The Beach
Horseback riding is one of my favorite things to do in the world, and there’s nothing quite like riding on the beach at sunset! As the sun dips close to the horizon, you’ll feel the ocean breeze and a soft mist sprayed from the waves nearby. This is the perfect activity for families who want to relax or couples looking for some romance.
You can find people offering tours in town or close to the beach at any time of the day. Prices once again vary but generally are around $25 for half an hour ride.
12. Snorkel or Scuba Dive
The sea life in Rocky Point is very versatile. If you’re interested in exploring the diverse undersea realms, you can go snorkeling or try scuba diving. Some of the top scuba and snorkeling spot in the area are located in Cholla Bay, Playa Mirador, and Bird Island. All three of these places have clear and warm water, which makes diving and snorkeling ideal. But if you’re looking for something unique and exciting, go to Bird Island. Here, you can swim with sea lions! You might be wondering, ‘Is it dangerous?’. There are risks when you encounter any wildlife, but the tour companies and guides who take you to the island are experienced and informative on how to appropriately and safely act around the sea lions.
There are a few different companies that offer snorkeling and scuba diving tours. The most popular is Sonoran Scuba. On top of tours, they also rent gear and offer diving lessons. Lessons usually included one pool instruction and one dive in the ocean (lasting about 4 hours total). The price varies from vendor to vendor, but the average rate for a lesson and dive is around $120.00 per person. If you’re certified, you can rent a tank for $50.00 and two tanks for $65.00.
If you wish to get in touch with Sonoran Scuba, please call 602-445-6382 ext 2100. For tours to Bird Island, contact Del Mar Charters (520-407-6054).
13. Bird Island Tour
No trip to Puerto Peñasco is complete without taking a trip to the famous Isla San Jorge, also known as Bird Island. Bird Island is located 27 miles southeast of Rocky Point and is considered a reserved area of shelter for migratory animals and wild fauna. As a haven, it is home to over 3,500 sea lions and 20 different species of birds. You may even spot dolphins, stingrays, and whales at certain times of year around the island.
Due to the variety of marine life around Bird Island, it is the perfect place to scuba dive and snorkel! However, if you don’t feel like getting in the water, you can choose to kayak around the island and take in the beautiful scenery.
There are a few companies that offer tours to Bird Island. Del Mar Charters (520-407-6054) offer a 5-6 hour tour at $90.00 per adult and $65.00 per child under the age of 12. The price includes lunch (burritos), soft drinks, bottled water, beer, and margaritas. Also, there’s a restroom available on the boat. Other companies that offer tours but require you to call or fill out an inquiry form are Eco Fun Rentals Land and Sea Excursions (602-635-3736) and Rocky Point Boat Charters (602-324-9529).
Rocky Point is a fishing village and has been for many years. The town is surrounded by reefs and estuaries, making it an excellent location for fishing. The Sea of Cortez is home to mackerel, triggerfish, grouper, spotted seabass, red snapper, whitefish, halibut, dorado, and marlin, to name a few. Because of the amount and variety of fish in this area, if you decide to charter a fishing boat, you will catch something.
We charted a fishing boat with Federico’s Fishing Charters. Going on a guided fishing boat is great because they provide you with all the equipment and they know exactly where to find schools of fish. For $400, we fished for 6 hours and caught over 30 fish! Most were triggerfish and a few, small seabass. Another thing that’s great about chartering a fishing boat, they clean, fillet, and bag your fish. So all you have to do is throw it on the grill and enjoy.
Before booking, be sure to clarify with them if you want to go sport fishing or if you’d like to fish along the shore. The larger fish like marline and dorado will be farther away while smaller fish will be closer to shore. The kind of fishing you want to do may affect pricing.
Be sure to bring some extra cash to tip the crew, especially if they do a good job. For reference, we had a group of five people who fished for six hours and gave $100.
15. Whale Watching
During the winter, whales from the Bering Sea migrate to the warm waters of the Sea of Cortez to have their babies. So if you’re planning a trip to Rocky Point between January and March, definitely book a whale-watching excursion to catch a glimpse of these majestic mammals!
While you may be able to see some whales from the shore, you’ll only get up-close encounters with a whale watching company. During the tour, you’ll have the opportunity to see whales breaching (jumping out of the water), spy-hopping, and swimming right next to the boat. It’s an incredible experience you won’t want to miss so but sure to have your camera ready at all times.
Some companies that offer whale watching tours are Del Mar Charters (520-407-6054), Rocky Point Boat Charters (602-324-9529), and Eco Fun Rentals Land and Sea Excursion (602-635-3736). Some include food and an open bar during the excursion.
16. Sunset Cruise
Rocky Point has some of the best sunsets in the world. While you can enjoy the view from the beach or your hotel room, nothing beats watching the sunset while out on the ocean. As the sun dips toward the horizon, the sky turns different shades of orange and red while the water surrounding you glistens specks of light. It is a magical experience that is only enhanced by a delicious rum-infused drink. Once the sun sets, you’ll head back to the harbor and get the chance to see the city of Puerto Peñasco lit up.
A few companies that offer sunset cruises in Rocky Point are Del Mar Charters (520-407-6054), Rocky Point Boat Charters (602-324-9529), Eco Fun Rentals Land and Sea Excursion (602-635-3736) and Santiagos Ocean Services (602-324-9558).
Since the weather is gorgeous year-round, Rocky Point is the perfect place to swing some clubs. These three golf courses are challenging and rewarding for golfers of all levels:
The Links Golf Course at Las Palomas is an 18-hole, par-72, championship golf course set along the desert dunes and designed in the “true links” tradition. The green fee for guests at Las Palomas is $50 and $75 for the public.
Vidanta Golf Puerto Peñasco at the Mayan Palace Resort, is located on the Sea of Cortés just 25 miles east of the old town. Designed by Jack Nicklaus, this oceanside course is long and the most challenging in Rocky Point. The green fee is $49.
The Club at Laguna del Mar Golf course is a Jack Nicklaus signature course as well. This 9-hole course is fun yet challenging and offers terrific views of the saltwater lagoons, “Cerro Prieto” mountains, and Sea of Cortés. The second 9-holes are under construction. The green fee is $49.
18. Souvenir Shop Along The Malecon
A Malecon is a promenade along the water where people gather to watch the sunsets, have concerts, shop, and eat. Back in the day, a few popup souvenir shops and rickety restaurants lined the Malecon. But now, the town has grown and so have the businesses. Souvenir shops, pharmacies, and fish markets line the street on the first floor while the restaurants take up the second and third story of each building, offering beautiful views of the Sea of Cortez to all patrons.
If you’re interested in finding a cheap pair of sunglasses, getting a few gifts for family back home, buying fresh shrimp or fish, grabbing a bite to eat, or having a drink, the Malecon is the place to do so. While most of the restaurants and pharmacies take credit or debit cards, bring cash for the souvenir shops and markets, especially if you plan to haggle/negotiate prices.
Going into town and strolling the Malecon is a must for anyone visiting Rocky Point. Whether you buy anything or not, it’s quite an experience you can’t miss.
19. Try Local Food & Drinks
It’s important you eat outside of the hotel. The food is better, and you’ll have a more authentic Rocky Point experience. And be sure to try a variety of seafood. Since Rocky Point is a fishing town, everything is freshly caught and tastes fantastic! They especially know how to cook octopus and clams.
Some of my favorite restaurants include Iguana Banana and Mary’s Seafood Restaurant. These two are located along the Malecon and offer delicious food at a reasonable price!
There’s also Combo Taco, which is located off the main highway. I’d only recommend coming here if you plan on getting fish tacos. They have other options, but nothing is quite as delicious as the fried fish.
If you’re looking for something closer to the resorts, try Wrecked At The Reef. It’s a huge bar and grill located on the beach. It caters to tourists, so expect to pay American prices.
As for drinking, alcohol tastes the same everywhere, but if you’re looking to get crazy, here are a few to check out.
Shark Bite, Tekila Bar, and Boo Bar are all located along the Malecon, have fun atmospheres, relatively cheap drinks, and great music.
People typically go out at night, but we always prefer hit up these bars during the day for one reason: the bartenders. Early afternoons are relatively slow for them, so it’s easy to make friends if you sit at the bar, strike up a conversation, and order a few drinks. Eventually, they start to give you some freebies and test out new alcoholic mixed drinks on you.
Tip: If you want a free shot of cheap tequila, climb up the bar pole and touch the ceiling at Shark Bite! If you do this, please post it and tag me on social media @thelovelyescapist !!!!
As I previously mentioned, Wrecked At The Reef is closer to the resorts, which makes it a convenient and safe place for tourists to party late at night. So if you want to rage all night long, this is the place to be. During the weekend, they have multiple stages with live music and late-night dance parties.
Michelada from Tekila Bar
Another great place to drink is Manny’s Beach Club. Located on Playa Mirador, which is close to the Malecon, Manny’s is more of a bar than a restaurant. There is a big dance area, lots of tables, and a pool. The best part, it is located on a beautiful beach. Some days, Manny’s has beach parties and is packed, but for the most part, it is a chill place to eat, drink, and socialize with anyone and everyone.
Eventually, I’ll write a more detailed guide on my favorite places to eat and drink, but for now, this is a great list to get you started!
20. Visit An Oyster Farm
If you love oysters, there are a few different oyster farms in Puerto Peñasco: La Ostionera Acuamar, Cooperative Punta Roja, and La Ostionera El Barco.
The oyster farms are located in Encanto, only a 15-20 minute drive from the Malecon, and offer oysters fresh out of the sea.
La Ostionera Acuamar is a fun but very basic oyster farm. You need to bring your own beers, drinks, snacks, and towels. The workers crack open the oysters and hand them to you to eat. They provide you with limes salt and hot sauce; however, if you like to season with something else, bring it. So if eating fresh, raw oysters is not your thing, probably check out one of the other farms.
Tip: Pay in pesos, or you’ll pay about 60% more in USD.
Cooperative Punta Roja is a sustainable oyster farm located at the eastern end of the Morua estuary. They only serve oysters, and crab tostadas, so bring your own drink and other snacks. However, they have an option to cook the oysters, which I’ve heard is to die for. Cooperative Punta Roja is an outdoor, rustic dining experience, where you essentially dine in someone’s home. Also, there is no indoor restroom.
If you’re looking for comfort, La Ostionera El Barco is the oyster farm to visit. It is similar to the other farms except El Barco offer other seafood and drink. Plus, they have better amenities such as multiple tables, chairs, and a bathroom. Some items on the menu besides fresh oysters include tacos, quesadillas, ceviche, shrimp, and tostadas. There’s also a variety of drinks, including beer, but you are also more than welcome to bring your own if you prefer.
21. Drive Through The Picante Biosphere Reserve
The Pinacate Biosphere Reserve is a group of volcanic peaks and cinder cones located 30 minutes from Puerto Peñasco. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and considered to be one of the most important landmarks to visit in Mexico. The Pinacate Biosphere Reserve has the largest concentration of maar craters in the world and shares the largest sand dune fields in North America with the Gran Desierto de Altar Biosphere Reserve.
Fun Fact: The Apollo 14 astronauts trained for their moon landing at Pinacate since the rough, barren landscape was the closest thing to the lunar surface.
The reserve is off of Highway 8 near the kilometer 52 mark. Once you get to the ranger station, Estacion Biologica, you have to register and pay an entry fee of about 54.00 pesos (currently about $3.50). You will get a map and be on your way.
Inside the reserve is a scenic vehicle route, which is about 45 miles long and lasts around 3-5 hours (depending on how much you stop). The road is not all paved, but you don’t need a 4×4. The route will take you to see the El Elegante and Cerro Colorado craters, El Tecolote and Santa Clara volcanoes, and other viewpoints that showcase the lava flow. At each lookout, you can decide if you want to keep driving or get out and explore. Some stops, like at El Elegante, offer trails for you to hike along part of the rim or the entire crater.
Tip: Bring about a gallon of water per person and snacks – especially if you plan on hiking.
If you’d like to visit with a guided tour, contact Eco Fun Rentals Land and Sea Excursions (602-635-3736).
Have you been to Rocky Point??? If there’s anything I left out, let me know in the comments below!
FOR MORE, CHECK OUT MY VIDEO OF PUERTO PENASCO: