In Rocky Point, something very special happens when the sun sets in the west. Scientists say the brilliant colors you see are caused by either the refraction of light on microscopic dust particles, or the seven margaritas you had on an all-U-can-drink sunset cruise. Whatever the reason, the end of the day is a truly amazing sight. And if conditions are right, the coast of Baja California looks like you could reach out and touch it, although it’s almost 80 miles away.

Some years ago I was fortunate to join my long-time friend, Craig Lyons, on a leisurely crossing to San Filipe. Our mini-flotilla of three power boats set off one cloudless morning with full tanks, good cheer and enough beer to supply a frat house toga party.

Knifing through open water, we saw hammerhead sharks and vast schools of  leaping dolphins. About 50 miles out, we paused for a while at a cluster of islands and caught half a dozen species of fish that we pulled from the swirling current. Underway again, the desolate shoreline didn’t show evidence of civilization until we were only a few miles away.

The passage was not without excitement, since one sailor misread his instruments, got lost, ran out of fuel and had to be towed 12 miles to port, during which time a serious dent was put in the beer stock. At the marina, there were electrical problems, and the gas pumps were dead, so arrangements were made for a tanker truck to fill up at a Pemex station, get as close as possible to the docks and run a long hose to the boats. (Craig’s diesel rig didn’t need refueling.) But the rest of the outing went without a hitch.

The fishing community of San Felipe, population about 25,000, was a delight. We enjoyed the clean streets, brightly colored homes and net-filled pangas pulled up on the beach. The bars and restaurants lining the Malecón were welcoming and the seafood was cheap, plentiful and outstanding. I had often heard San Felipe described as the Rocky Point of 30 years ago. True, things are less crowded and there aren’t condo towers —yet—but it is a favorite place for tourists, snowbirds and a growing expat community.

While some of our well-to-do shipmates decided to check into hotels, the marina had showers and other amenities, so a few of us tightwads slept on the boats and kept company with mosquitoes that had the same size and blood lust as vampire bats.

Back at sea early the next morning, we had planned to stop on the way home to fish, but weather reports were not encouraging, so we took off into a stiff wind, with swells and waves growing by the minute. Fortunately the boats were well maintained and seaworthy (although not the same could be said of all the crew members) and we arrived safely at Rocky Point after a wet and bumpy run. To sum it up: We flipped over San Felipe. If you can pry yourself away from Peñasco, I highly recommend this Baja destination as a fun and fantastic getaway.