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Puerto Peñasco/Mexico

Introducing Puerto Peñasco

Until the 1920s, ‘Rocky Point’ as US citizens affectionately call this Sea of Cortez coastal resort, was just that: a landmark on naval/military maps and no more. Its location alongside one of the driest parts of the Desierto Sonorense (Sonoran Desert) deterred all would-be settlers bar intrepid fishermen until Prohibition gave the fledgling community an unexpected spotlight as a drinking and gambling haven for alcohol-starved North Americans. Peñasco hasn’t looked back since. Now this beach town is home to so many non-natives it has become the seaside destination Arizona never had. The historic core hugs the rocky point itself while its main waterfront stretch, Sandy Beach, sports massive condo-hotel resorts which offer luxury rooms with sea views, expensive restaurants and no hint of Mexican culture.

However, Peñasco is still characterful in parts, and there is plenty of fun to be had here.

Travelers without a car, beware: unbelievably for a place this size, there is no reliable local public transportation. Peñasco is also best avoided in March, when margarita-chugging US college students descend for Spring Break.