Travel to Rocky Point & Tips

General location: Puerto Peñasco is nestled in the northwestern corner of the Mexican state of Sonora, on Mexican highway #8 approximately 65 miles from the Lukeville, AZ/ Plutarco Elias Calles (Sonoyta) border crossing. It is important to note the Lukeville/Sonoyta border entry is closed from midnight until 6 a.m. Puerto Peñasco can also be easily reached by car from California and southwestern AZ along the new Coastal Highway 003. Travel Maps 

At times there have been commercial flights to the area, though currently if flying you are probably in your own private plane. The Mar de Cortes International Airport is located just 9 miles southeast of the city, offering full-services for individual planes in transit or visiting Puerto Peñasco.

Driving tips & shuttles: When planning a trip to Rocky Point, you may choose to drive (be sure to get Mexican insurance ahead of time – available online through different sites (www.sanborns.com) as well as at numerous offices along the route to Lukeville), or you may opt for drive-free travels by choosing a shuttle service.

For door to door shuttle service from Phoenix we recommend Head out to Rocky Point (*Service from Tucson sometimes available for larger groups).

Other options from Phoenix include Transporte Supremo (sometimes more economical, though not door to door).  Transporte Suprema has daily schedules between Phoenix and Rocky Point. In Rocky Point, their office is located at Calle Lazaro Cardenas y Sinaloa (near Candy Cake).

KEEP IN MIND: When traveling with shuttle services, as you cross back into the U.S. you will need to carry your own luggage through the U.S. customs checkpoint at the border and then meet up with the shuttle on the U.S. side. Luggage with wheels is particularly shuttle-travel friendly!

When driving….watch the speed limit signs!!!! This is particularly true when nearing and going through Ajo and through Sonoyta just as you cross into Mexico. Important: the traffic signs in Mexico are in kilometers and just as you cross the border you will see signs that go from 20 kilometers to 40 kilometers and then back to 20, and often policias are there ready to remind you. When driving back to the U.S. border it is VERY IMPORTANT to drop your speed to 40 kilometers/hour just as you near the final curve leading into Sonoyta.  Be sure to review our notes on Crossing the Border as to how much and what you can bring down!

Travel Tips

Bring your Passport or Passport Card! Yes, a U.S. Passport is required to return to the U.S. (Minors under 16 can travel with birth certificate as per the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative) www.getyouhome.gov

Vehicle Insurance? Vehicle insurance with liability coverage is required by law when traveling in Mexico. Be sure to get Mexican insurance ahead of time – available online as well as at numerous offices along the route to US/Mexico border.  (www.sanborns.com)

Crossing the border: Please note the Lukeville/Sonoyta border is closed from midnight to 6 a.m. daily. Recommendation is to drive during daylight hours.

Hassle Free zone?  As correctly pointed out by a reader, the “No Hassle Zone” signs you may see after crossing the border simply mean you do not need a special vehicular permit (well, other than insurance) when driving in Sonora (as a tourist). If you plan to travel further into Mexico (or rather out of the State of Sonora), you may temporarily import your vehicle for a period of 180 days http://rockypoint360.com/mexican-car-insurance-car-permits/

Bringing food into Mexico? Presently, it appears that bringing meat of any kind, other than fish, is no longer much of an option. Prior to considering bringing agricultural, meat, or cheese products into Mexico be sure to review information on the SENASICA site: http://www.senasica.gob.mx/?id=622

Customs declaration: You are allowed to bring personal items (clothing, 2 cameras, personal sports equipment, 1 laptop, etc.) with you into Mexico. Also, travelers can bring additional items with a value of up to $300 US* (*or equivalent in foreign coin) [or $150 US if you are a resident in the border area – yes, like Puerto Peñasco] before having to declare and pay additional taxes. If presenting a Voluntary Declaration at the border, park in the respective area before reaching the traffic arm/stoplight. Important! If you have more than the allotted amount of merchandise and fail to Declare Voluntarily, your vehicle and all other items can be confiscated.

Declare at border if transporting more than $10,000 US (cash, checks, money order, etc.). For additional information: Call from US and Canada Toll-free number: 1 877 44 88 728. Or from anywhere in Mexico at 01 55 627 22 728 (MarcaSAT)   Declarations

Travel with pets: In Mexico, pets and/or companion animals must have vaccination records (health certificate) issued by a vet. No fee for traveling with up to three pets. NOTE: You are not allowed to bring pet food with meat product into Mexico.

Checkpoints?  When driving to Rocky Point, you will come across border patrol checkpoints on the US side (though you only have to slow down when heading South, not stop for revision – stop on your way back North) and at times (though not frequently) there are checkpoints on the Mexican side of the border. These are all for your safety!

Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) is a free service provided by the U.S. government to U.S. citizens who are traveling to, or living in, a foreign country.  STEP allows you to enter information about your upcoming trip abroad so that the Department of State can better assist you in an emergency.  Visit www.travel.state.gov to enroll in the STEP program.

Speed: Speed limit in Mexico is in Kilometers. We recommend cruising through Sonoyta at 25 MPH (40 KM) – yes, through the WHOLE town…yes, 25 MPH! FINES: Fines are paid at the police station (this is true in Peñasco too).

Transportation:

Shuttles to Rocky Point: For door to door shuttle service from Phoenix, AZ check with www.headouttorockypoint.com

Taxis – Check with hotel/condo rental agency for recommendations as to on site and/or booking a taxi. These generally charge per person and you can check with hotel and/or local restaurants as to what the “average” taxi rate may be.  Rates from town to condo areas, for example, can start at $20 US – or departing from Sandy Beach area…to anywhere.

Camioncito Urbano – “city bus” – New in town, offering 2 routes that go all over the city (with route time ranging from 45 minutes to an hour), blue and white school-bus looking “camiones” Cost: 10 pesos

  • Route 1: 6 a.m – 7 p.m. Monday-Saturday (Ley Express, Ley Constitución, Coppel, Col. Obrera, Centro, Elektra, IMSS Centro, Centro Salud)
  • Route 2: 6 a.m. – 7 p.m. Monday – Saturday (Centro, Elektra, IMSS Centro, Centro Salud, Malecón, Albatros bus station, Bodega Aurrera, Sam’s Club, Hospital General Brisas, IMSS Brisas)
  • Route 3: 6 a.m. – 7 p.m.  Monday – Saturday (Elecktra, IMSS Centro, Centro Salud, Malecón, Albatros, Bodega Aurrera, Sam’s Club, Hospital General Brisas, IMSS Brisas, Ley Constitución, Coppel

Rental cars – There are basically two rental agencies in town: Bufaloss on Blvd. Fremont (insurance included in rental cost), and Pro Rent a Car across from City Hall on way to Old Port (insurance has to be purchased separately)

Odds & Ends

Water?  ¿Agua potable? Do not drink tap water, though you can brush your teeth with it and of course bathe.  All restaurants will have “garrafones” of water (bottled water jugs) as well as smaller bottled water options for drinking.

Drinking?  The legal drinking age in Mexico is 18. Check with cantinas/restaurants as to any specific legal requirements (usually posted at front door as applicable)

Flush toilet paper?  Usually yes in most modern resorts, hotels – particularly if there is no can near the toilet, meaning paper can be flushed down. However, generally no, as plumbing in Mexico is different than the U.S. If there is a trash can located near the toilet, there will usually be a sign stating “Please deposit paper in can, not in toilet”  “No papel en la taza!”.

Pack jewelry and valuable stuff? If you don’t need it, don’t bring it as that’s one less thing to worry about. If you’ve brought it, check with your hotel/resort if they have safe options.

Clothing?  Warm to hot sunny days and cool nights through the Spring – bring at least a light jacket or sweater for the evenings, plus jeans. Summer days and nights are warm and it tends to be very humid from mid-June through mid-September.

Shoes? Be prepared for sand in and on your shoes in Rocky Point, no matter what you bring. Hiking shoes/boots for Pinacate adventures, dance shoes for clubbing, flip-flops for everywhere else.

Street food?  There are some great taco, hot-dog, and other food stands across town.  Basically, be sensible. If you are afraid of getting sick from eating off a street cart, don’t do it – pick out a favorite restaurant instead.

ATMs and money: ATMs usually have the best exchange rate (personal bank fees notwithstanding). Only the Banorte on Blvd. Fremont gives out both pesos and dollars. “Casas de Cambio” (exchange centers) are available across the city and in the Old Port and are much quicker and easier options than trying to exchange at a bank. If exchanging at bank, be prepared to show Passport (not Passport card).

Tipping: Yes, tipping is the custom in Mexico – anywhere from 10% to 15% or more if you wish at restaurants, etc. Also, be sure to tip grocery baggers and parking attendants if you make it to the market. For many, this is their sole source of income.

Credit / debit cards? Not every spot will accept credit and/or debit cards (remember ATMS give best exchange rate). In addition, some establishments will charge an extra percentage for use of credit card. Be sure to ask before ordering.

Tax: Currently, tax is 16% (value added tax [IVA]) and generally added to bill though not on menu prices (restaurants, etc.)

Towing service:  IF for whatever reason you need a tow back to the U.S.  contact Dennis Bleeker at Agua Grande towing  From US: 520-232-2149 MX: 638 383-5770