- Courtney P. from Montgomery, AL
Home to the largest sand dunes in the western hemisphere and once a host for NASA lunar excursion trainings, the Piñacate Peaks have welcomed travelers to Puerto Peñasco, Sonora for the past 90 years, making this world class tourist destination one of Mexico’s oldest. Just a 4 hour drive south from Phoenix Arizona, Puerto Peñasco has something to offer for just about every traveler.
Since the 1920s, North Americans have been vacationing here and since then many have made it their home. Today, Sandy Beach boasts of modern vacation condominiums, luxurious resorts, and championship golf. I have been traveling here frequently since 2006, and being the small community it is, have found it easy to call this my second home, of which I will share with you travelers a quick tour of the “house”:
“The Kitchen” – Whether its pizza at Capone’s, breakfast at the legendary Coffee’s Haus or fine international dinning at the 4 diamond awarded La Maria Bistro at Las Palomas resort, you are guaranteed authentic atmospheres, Mexican hospitality and happy taste buds.
“The Living Room” – Take a load off and relax on a 40 ft. fishing boat while cruising off the archipelago of San Jorge Island (Bird Island) and wait for the sawfish, grouper and horse mackerel to bite. Or, live the experience at Mayan Palace’s Peninsula de Cortez Golf Club, home to the Uniting Nations Cup and its nine ocean front holes that are up to par with its northern counterpart, Pebble Beach.
“The Back Yard” – A day trip to the Piñacate volcanic crater will provide incredible images for your photo album, as will the vast desert that surrounds with its 553 species of plants, 237 species of birds (the red-tailed falcon being my favorite to spot!). This nationally protected biosphere is a must for all travelers. ATV rides along miles of sand dunes are also highly recommended, and with a coastline of over 100 kilometers, long walks along the Sea of Cortez are very enjoyable.
Whether you enjoyed a delicious meal, took a relaxing boat ride or collected sea shells on the beaches of El Mirador, La Cholla or Las Conchas, you will have many memories to share with family and friends. But one will stand out…and that is the plan to return and continue living the experience.
Mi casa es tu casa.
This week on the RCI Blog, we will show you stories and photos from other RCI subscribing members who have visited Puerto Peñasco. Be sure to check back!
Last week on the RCI Blog, we talked about Ixtapa and Nuevo Vallarta – two of the places that were included on TripAdvisor’s Traveler’s Choice 2011 list for the Top 10 Family Vacations in the Caribbean and Mexico. This week, I’ll be telling you about Playa del Carmen and Riviera Maya…two more destinations that are fantastic for family traveling.
When I visited Playa del Carmen, I stayed at BlueBay Grand Esmeralda, an all inclusive resort with excellent food, drinks and service. Besides the great resort in Playa del Carmen, one of the most amazing things about this place is the Mayan civilization. Chichen Itza – a large archaeological site – is a pyramid shaped structure that was constructed over 1000 years ago. To be honest, I couldn’t even begin to explain how the Mayan civilization built it! Another can’t-miss place for Mayan ruins is Tulum, where ancient ruins are right on the shores of the Caribbean Sea. It is gorgeous and you can even get some of the best views of the turquoise blue waters there.
Riviera Maya is another attraction-packed destination in Mexico. One of my favorite things to see is Cenotes, an underground river system that the Maya thought to be sacred. If you and the family are looking for something to do other than visit ancient ruins, head over to La Quinta Avenida, which is the main street that runs parallel to the ocean and provides 2 miles of shopping and restaurants.
Whether your family and you are looking for a vacation filled with tourist attractions, relaxation or shopping and dining (or all!), these destinations are the places to go! This week on the RCI Blog, we’ll be sharing stories and photos from RCI subscribing members who have taken trips to Playa del Carmen or Riviera Maya. And if you missed last week’s blog on Ixtapa and Nuevo Vallarta, you can check it out here.
Beautiful sandy beaches, warm ocean waves, incredible recreational activities, fresh seafood, great nightlife…Mazatlán has it all. And not only is it one of the least expensive destinations in México, but it has a long list of top rated resorts. Add to that great service and the warm hospitality of the locals, and you’ve got a vacation you'll never forget. Lucky for you, I’ve visited Mazatlán several times before so I have some great tips on what to do and where to eat (and what to order)!
Mazatlán's Malecón is considered one of the longest in the world (a “malecón” is a stone-built embankment). Stretching about 21 km (13 miles), here’s where you can find everything from cliffs, monuments and gazebos to old buildings, restaurants, bars and nightclubs.
For daytime fun, Mazatlán has plenty of beach areas: Zona Dorada in The Hotel Zone, Olas Altas, Sábalos, North Beach, Isla de la Piedra, Isla de los Pájaros, Cerritos and Nuevo Mazatlán. You can also visit the lighthouse (El Faro). And while you’re there, famous "divers" perform daring jumps off high rocks into the Pacific Ocean for tips from on-looking tourists.
For lunch or dinner, you can head over to Los Arcos, a restaurant with a wide seafood menu and affordable prices. Ask for the “Governor taco” & shrimp “agua chile”. Also, try The Panama, a cafeteria with excellent pastries and a huge menu for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It’s always crowded by locals so it has a great atmosphere.
If you are a night owl, head north along the Golden Zone (a section at the far north end of Mazatlán) and you'll find Señor Frog's between The Inn at Mazatlán and El Cid Moro Beach. There, you can enjoy a variety of cocktails served in yard long cups…personally I’d recommend the "Banana Mama".
But, if you want to take it easy, I absolutely recommend Old Mazatlán downtown area! It has been rediscovered and restored by newcomers and locals alike and is not far away from the Hotel Zone. Try Pedro & Lola restaurant and have a nice dinner while you listen to a jazz band or a guitar solo.
Mazatlan really does have it all. If you’ve been there and have more tips for other RCI subscribing members, please comment below. And if you haven’t been there, visit the RCI blog again this week when we share stories and photos from other members about their trips to this amazing destination.
When I landed in Vallarta, I walked down the plane’s stairs and was hit by a blow of humid wind. I took a deep breath and got the taste of salt and the smell of coconut and the beach. I can tell I am now on vacation.
My cab driver didn’t lose his smile from the time I got into his taxi at the airport all the way to my destination: The Grand Velas Vallarta…an amazing resort. It is all-inclusive and not only is the food great, but the service is also.
Vallarta is, I believe, the most Mexican-style beach. It’s on the Pacific Ocean where indigo meets the golden sand hit by the white foam of the waves. Sayulita and Punta Mita are great areas to go surfing. I didn’t have a chance to stand on a board, but I may come back another time to do just that.
During the day, you can snorkel, go diving or maybe even swim with the dolphins - these amazing mammals have a very special personality! You can also go horseback riding across the jungle, following a refreshing noise that gets louder and louder until you see a wide column of water turned into a waterfall. Or, you can jump into a boat to see one of the largest mammals on our planet in Banderas Bay – the hunchback whale! If you are lucky, you’ll see them jump and do acrobatics.
Heading downtown at night, I was able to enjoy a taste of local folklore: white houses with red tiles piled up between the hills, the Guadalupe church hidden behind little souvenirs stores (you can see the bricks and crown on top of the main tower peaking through) and the soft amber light of the “farolito” lightening up the main square at night full of locals, tourists, and regional music.
Vallarta is too big for a weekend or even a full week and I am sure I will have to come back to the Malecon to have an ice-cream while sitting on a bench watching people walk by or see shoppers bargain with the nice locals. I love Vallarta and the stories that become memories that make me want to come back. That is how I remember Vallarta, that’s my story. We’ve heard a lot of stories and seen a lot of pictures from RCI subscribing members about Vallarta that we will share with you this week. What’s your story? Share it here.