Puerto Peñasco

Puerto Peñasco was dubbed Rocky Point by British explorers in the 18th century, and that's the name most Americans know it by today. The town itself was established about 1927, after Mexican fishermen found abundant shrimp beds in the area and American John Stone built the first hotel. Al Capone was a frequent visitor during the Prohibition era, when he was hiding from U.S. law.

The real appeal of Puerto Peñasco, at the north end of the Mar de Cortés (Sea of Cortez), is the miles of sandy beaches punctuated by stretches of black volcanic rock. A remarkably high tide change—as much as 23 feet—makes for great exploring among countless tide pools. The town itself has already been discovered, as you'll know from all the neon signs advertising Subway, Century 21, and Thrifty. But the newly revamped malecón (waterfront boardwalk), illuminated by night in a wash of color, is a friendly gathering place for locals and travelers.

High-rise developments are already being built, which will add an eye-opening skyline to sleepy Puerto Peñasco. Even more dramatic changes to the landscape may result from the forthcoming coastal highway and the town's place at the top of the "Escalera Náutica" (Nautical Ladder), a series of high-end marinas along the coasts.

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