beachsunsetwebWho doesn’t love an ocean? Nature created this vast entity, teeming with life and energy to enrich our lives and help us relax. Something happens when I gaze at the water, something wonderful. The closeness of the sea fills my soul with calmness, liberating any stress I may be holding tight inside, and energizes my spirit. Perhaps you understand this wonderful phenomenon.

Just returning from two weekends in Southern California brought the realization all oceans are incredibly beautiful. Waves were breaking, straight blue horizons stretched out as far as the eye could see and soft sand padded my feet for walking and lounging. The smell and sounds of the sea made the work world slow down.

Yes, I love all oceans, but after time in Southern California I have a strong urge, a deep passion bubbling up inside me to go back to my favorite body of water– the Sea of Cortez in Mexico.

Now, many friends and relatives of mine live in Southern Cal, so this is not a slam on their beautiful piece of the world. This is about urges and withdraws for something you love, a special place that rests inside your heart and nothing else can fulfill that inner feeling of peace and freedom in quite the same way.

Here are 7 reasons why I love Puerto Peñasco over the Southern California beaches.

1. Color and comfort of the water- The turquoise Sea of Cortez, is blue, bright and clean. Warm and wet describes this sea in Puerto Peñasco. Here, nine months of the year, no wetsuits are needed. I prefer my water warm, and full of glittering diamonds. We are very blessed with a large majority of days of sparkling seas, so the water stays clear, not foggy, brooding and angry.

2. Can we say California traffic? – Enough said right? My frustrating experience included: no parking spots, driving around in a circle to find a place to park, only to discover it’s a thirty-minute park zone, and drive around again. Plan on at least a 30 minute ride in traffic to get anywhere, all day, every day. Sirens? Stayed in a hotel in La Jolla and counted 15 sirens in one night. No offense- I like to park next to the beach, carry all the fun beach items 50-feet down to the sand, where I can even put up a tent or rent a cabana on the public beach for under $20. Or better yet– stay in a beachfront condo and walk down to the beach and sit under a palapa.

3. Money, Money and more Money- Food and drink prices, and hotel rates, are double what I’m used to paying. Mexico, even with a slower economy, is less than half of the hotel prices in Laguna Beach, La Jolla even Pacific Beach. And, with the exchange rate of the dollar to pesos we are really fortunate. I have credit card receipts to prove the cost difference. In Puerto Peñasco, you can stay in fantastic condos for less than $125 a night, drink a beer for three bucks or less and have a meal for under ten dollars. It’s tough to find this pricing or anything close to it in La Jolla, Laguna or Pacific Beach.

4. Travel time- Load your car up with all your favorite beach toys, bicycles, clothes, and coolers and driving from Phoenix or Tucson you can be sitting on the beach in less than 4 hours (that includes unpacking the car and putting your chair in the sand). Depending on traffic (can you say California freeways), you could easily be looking at six plus hours to California (and I’m being nice).

5. Beaches are free in Mexico- No $10 car charge, no blocking off of the beach due to a resort hotel, no tags needed. Mexican beaches are open to all. The best thing is the majority of the condominiums and hotels in Rocky Point are right on the beach, and you can walk back and forth to your condo or room. Economically hard to beat!

6. Rules and Regulations- I always pictured California as a super relaxed, easy going state, so where did all the rules come from?

Sign posted in San Diego on the beach:

NO alcohol on beach

NO dogs on beach

NO smoking on Beach

NO fires on beach

NO sleeping on beach

NO vehicle on beach

NO shell picking

In Rocky Point, we can go to Sandy Beach, Cholla Bay, Mirador, Las Conchas and take your cooler, your dog, your food, drinks and relax for free. We can take a nap or look for shells–yes, beach combing of washed up shells is an age old pastime and not illegal in Mexico.

7. Crowds, packed bars, restaurants- On a Saturday in Pacific Beach we went to three different bars to find a place to sit and have a cold beverage. At the right event (think Circus Mexicus), I like crowds as much as the next guy, but sometimes you want to be able to sit down, have a drink and enjoy the view without waiting. Puerto Peñasco has a plethora of laid back cantinas ready with a seat to relax and enjoy a cold one– without waiting in line or carrying around a beeper or waiting for a text.

Yes, I love the California surf just as much as the next guy, but spending two crowded weekends there sure gave me the Mexico withdrawals. Sorry California friends! I won’t be California Dreaming.

I’ll take my Mexico!

Anita Kaltenbaugh is the author of “Travel Secrets- Insider guide to planning, affording and taking more vacations” available on Watch for her debut fiction novel, “A Deep Thing” by A.K. Smith being released in Fall 2016 by The Wild Rose Press. Follow her new blog at