Beach and palm trees

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I have written previous articles about local southwest places to visit. Along these lines, (with a big difference) is traveling to Mexico, specifically to Rocky Point, also known as Puerto Penasco. Puerto Penasco is a fishing and resort city on the Gulf of California, also known as the Sea of Cortez. While it is outside the U.S., it could be considered somewhat local as the distance is about around 210 – 220 or so miles from Tucson.

I went on this trip with some friends, and we went with Gray Line Tours of Tucson. They have a 4-day trip that goes directly to Rocky Point. One of the benefits of this trip is just showing up where the bus is leaving. The company has a tour guide who deals with customs and border officials on both sides of the border. You (and any children) will need a passport.

The roads from here to there are well maintained and the Mexican officials are very welcoming to American visitors, and many people have taken this trip with their own private vehicles (but getting Mexican automobile insurance is encouraged).

If you decide to drive, it is somewhat of an easy trip. We took I-10 to I-19 south, to State Road 86 West (Ajo Highway). We continued to Why, Arizona and turned left (south) to State Road 85 to Lukeville, which is on the border between the U.S., and Mexico. Shortly after the border crossing (about 2 miles), we arrived at a 2-way intersection where we followed the signs for Puerto Penasco (which is about 50-60 miles away). Staying to the right at the approaching Y, we continued to highway 8, which goes directly to Rocky Point. On the way south of the town of Why, is the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, which is a UNESCO biosphere reserve. The park is the only place in the United States where the organ pipe cactus (Stenocereus thurberi) grows wild.

We stayed at the Penasco del Sol Hotel and Resort, but there are many other options in the area. You do want to plan ahead, as the weekend before our trip, there was a motorcycle rally that drew over 10,000 motorcyclists to the area.

Among things to do in Rocky Point is buying fish at the Rocky Point Old Port Fish Market, but you might want to do that right before you leave, with the fish in a cooler for the trip back home. Also, at the marketplace are pottery and jewelry shops, among others.

A trip to Mexico always includes visiting a pharmicia.  Depending on what you are buying, you can get good prices on some medications. Of course, you will want your prescription script as the U.S. Customs and Border Protection station might require your script when you disclose your purchases. One rule of thumb is the medication must be approved for distribution in the U.S., if you can’t get them in an American pharmacy, you can’t bring them into the country. One popular bring back item is Retin A, a skin cream that requires a prescription in the States but is available over the counter in Mexico. Basically, doing research online will help assist in determining how much of what you might be able to bring back to the U.S. Of course, one should consult their physician, pharmacist, lawyer, insurance agent, the FDA, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and the State Department, as well as any other relevant local, state and federal authorities to verify and confirm any of these statements. Humor aside, the U.S. Department of State does have a good travel advisory website, not only for travel to Mexico, but worldwide. Additionally, there are other aspects to visiting Mexico one should be aware of. This is a good site that will cover other good to know items:

Another item often brought back is Tequila, which is, of course, a representative product of Mexico. As a protected product of Mexico, Mexican laws state that tequila can only be produced in the state of Jalisco (and limited municipalities in a few other places). There are various forms of Tequila that an online search will indicate, which is good to know before you visit Mexico. When coming back into the States, the amount of alcoholic that you can take back without having to pay taxes on is 1 liter per person. Some people also look for Cuban rum, Mezcal, or Kahlua.

Aside from local shopping, Rocky Point has RV parks, golf courses and many good restaurants. There are plenty of beach activities where one can snorkel, go horseback riding, paddle-boarding, sail, scuba dive, and go fishing or whale watching (in the winter months).

For more information on Puerto Penasco visit:

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