The Getaway
Puerto Peñasco Adventures: 15 Activities You Can't Miss

Puerto Peñasco has transformed from a sleepy Mexican port into a popular beach vacation spot offering many modern resorts. You'll be a short 62-mile hop across the border from Arizona on the Sea of Cortez. Plunge into inviting, warm waters for a leisurely swim, or check out some fresh seafood markets. This is the perfect place for first-time jet skiing and boat tours that let you appreciate sea lions, dolphins, and even whales. Enjoy intimate beaches and livelier playas when the spring break crowd from California and Arizona arrive to let loose.

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01 Jet ski paradise

"Rocky Point," as Americans often call it, is ideal for jet skiing. The calm waters offer a smooth ride, making it ideal for those wanting to avoid choppy waves. Thus, it's a bit safer for the less experienced members of your vacation posse. You can rent a jet ski to ride solo or opt for a two-seater model. Sometimes, allowing a faithful companion to share the ride is more fun while you zip along the attractive coastline looking for primo sunbathing spots.

Aerial view of jet skier in blue sea. Jet ski in turquoise clear water racing stock photo Andrija Dobras / Getty Images

02 You deserve a beachside massage, pronto

After all that "hard work" finding the best tacos, frosty beverages, and desserts, you deserve a break. Indulge yourself in deep tissue and other types of massage while soaking in some Mexican sunshine. Let the sounds of festive music from a mariachi band seep into your newly tanned muscles. Puerto Peñasco also offers somewhat fancy day spas, but they aren't on the sparkling sand. Bonus: Your beach massage definitely won't "break the bank."

Woman having back massage in spa tent on the beach. triocean / Getty Images

03 Stroll the Malecon downtown

Old meets new on this beachfront promenade at the center of the action. Enjoy salt-rimmed drinks while watching fisherman ply their trade. You can walk the Malecon in about 10 minutes, enjoying churros along the way. Sample the many bars, restaurants, and souvenir shops located here. Gaze longingly at a cerulean sea with a plate of fresh seafood and enjoy some live music. At nearby Plaza Luis Donaldo Colosio, you'll discover some beautifully colored tiles painted with depictions of local marine life.

04 Strike a pose by the Puerto Penasco sign

You'll want that quintessential pic that says, "Here I am!" You'll see vibrantly painted letters stand tall and spell out "Peñasco" right there on the Malecon. Everyone ends up on this beachfront boulevard, so this fun pic is almost mandatory. You'll want to get the dreamy blue water, swaying palm trees, and your whole crew in the frame for good measure.

05 Swing into Boo Bar for a drink

What's a trip to Mexico without swing chairs on ropes? This iconic sports/beach bar provides shimmering sunset views over the Sea of Cortez. Watch the game on TV, spy on boardwalk strollers from the upper deck, or listen to the water lap against the rocks. There's an area outside for the kids to play if you have the whole troop with you. This is one of the most popular spots on the Malecon, featuring friendly staff and live bands.

06 Get hooked on this fish market

You'll have several options for fresh seafood downtown, but Marco's Fish Market is a perennial favorite. Marco's is known for its quality shrimp on ice, but depending on the season, you'll have other delectable choices, such as red snapper, halibut, black seabass, and more. The friendly staff at Marco's will be happy to clean and fillet your fish to take home and throw on the grill.

Fresh seafood on ice at the fish market Urbanscape / Getty Images

07 Try street food on the Malecon

When you're strolling along the Malecon, your senses will be tantalized by the irresistible aroma of street food wafting through the air. Get ready for a culinary adventure you don't want to miss. From sizzling carne asada tacos to freshly grilled corn slathered in butter and spices, the options are endless and oh-so-delicious. Don't skip the Sonoran-style hot dogs, a local twist on an American classic, wrapped in bacon and topped with a medley of onions, tomatoes, and jalapeños.

08 Beautiful pottery and souvenirs at Curios Sophia

If you're looking for a handmade gift or souvenir apart from the usual fare, head over to Curios Sophia. You'll find a nice selection of authentic fabrics and other items for arts and crafts. They sell unique, sophisticated pottery that will make a great gift for your loved ones. You'll pay an attractive price for quality items at this multi-level paradise for home décor.

pottery art pictafolio / Getty Images

09 Cruise into the sunset with Federico's Charters

Seaworthy captains and a convivial crew provide a memorable boating experience at Federico's Charters. Enjoy the tranquility of a majestic sunset over the Sea of Cortez. You can charter a smaller boat for your family or friends. Federico's also offers fishing charters to catch your own dinner and brag that your fish was THIS big.

Fishing charter departs Lisa5201 / Getty Images

10 Be a whale watcher

Consider a spectacular whale-watching mission if you're visiting Puerto Peñasco during February, March, or April. These months are cooler, so fewer tourists can cramp your style. You may spot a fin whale, the second largest whale species on Earth after the blue whale. You may even spy gray whales and humpbacks for further awe and excitement. You'll earn top bragging rights with snapshots of these inspiring giants of the sea.

Humpback Whale Breaching at Sunset Mark Wong / Getty Images

11 Fancy a snorkel?

You'll discover a multitude of vibrant marine biology waiting for you just off the coast. Try Cholla Bay for a pleasant snorkeling experience, as the water is often very clear. You can easily charter a boat from Cholla Bay as several companies are located there. Why not find a shovelnose guitarfish or two? Or, try Playa Mirador, whose warm waters are protected from strong currents, making the experience safer.

Mother and child snorkeling over coral reef Ippei Naoi / Getty Images

12 Visit Bird Island: Isla San Jorge

You'll leave from the marina in the early morning light and may see dolphins playing next to your boat on your way to Isla San Jorge. This island has been a Federal Reserve since 1978. You'll see many different species of birds at this popular destination. Seeing large groups of seals and sea lions up close and personal is another unique experience here. Their forceful "musical" bellowing will make you smile.

13 Kayak into nature

Would you like some exercise as part of your aquatic adventure? A kayak lesson will help you appreciate the difference between the "paddle" or "peddle" boat options and give you some safety tips. You'll be able to get much closer to the sea lions and dolphins than you would on a cruise. Remember, no experience is required; you can go almost anywhere along the coast with your kayak.

Kayaker rowing in sea simonkr / Getty Images

14 Paddleboard through an estuary

An estuary is formed where part of a river meets the sea in a partially enclosed area of brackish water. But you already knew that. It's a magnet for diverse flora and fauna that tantalizes your eyeballs while you practice your balance. Paddleboarding is an invigorating, whole-body workout. The calm waters of this area are perfect for beginners of all ages. You can also glide alongside beautiful beaches with your stand-up paddleboard so that you're always two minutes away from the perfect sunbathing opportunity.

Girl on stand up paddle board, quiet sea with warm sunset colors. Relaxing on ocean Nuture / Getty Images

15 Best tidepool setting ever?

Puerto Peñasco is famous for its tidepools created by dramatic tide fluctuation. Circular rock formations fill up with seawater and create warm pools with a view. Grownups and kids alike enjoy a personalized hot tub situation smack dab in the middle of nature. These pools come alive with sea anemones and hermit crabs, so don't be afraid. You might also enjoy a tidepool eco-tour to learn some fun facts about the flora and fauna of the region.

Wildlife Beach Hermit Crab Animal Shell Seashell on Beach Macro SandyHappy / Getty Images
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