Trains, cars and planes

The new Calafia Airlines flights between Tijuana International Airport and Puerto Peñasco are becoming quite popular, with planes nearly full on the Friday run.

Our daughter, who lives in Santa Monica, California, loves to visit Rocky Point but dreads the 10 to 12-hour door-to-door journey.

Although MapQuest or Google Maps will tell you it’s an eight-hour drive from Los Angeles to Rocky Point, with essential stops, it actually takes about 10. With gas prices around $6, that’s over $150 in gas alone, one way.

If you fly from LAX to PHX, then take a shuttle or rental car down, it is a one and-a-half-hour flight and a four-hour shuttle ride. However, door-to-door, it ends up being close to 12 hours because of the commute to the airport, one-hour early arrival there and cushion of time to catch the shuttle. Cost for the flight and shuttle will run $160 to $200, plus taxi or Uber to and from the airport.

The Calafia Airlines website lists a one-way flight at $85. The flight takes less than an hour from Tijuana International Airport to Mar de Cortez International Airport in Puerto Peñasco. Of course, you still have to get to TJ!

Our daughter took Amtrak to San Diego and a shuttle to the CBX, Cross Border Express, which allows you to walk across the border in air-conditioned comfort, right into the Tijuana airport. You don’t have to hail a “Tijuana Taxi” or ride a city bus.

“It couldn’t have been easier,” Natalie said, “and there were people all along the way who were super friendly and eager to help. You walk over the bridge (there is a toll), get the FMM travel document at a kiosk and present it, along with your passport and boarding pass and you’re all set. The flight was fast and smooth and very comfortable.”

When she touched down, we were there to meet her, but she could have taken a cab to town for the 20-minute trip into Rocky Point.

With trains and cars and planes all added in, it probably cost an additional $70 to get to Rocky Point from Los Angeles, but door to door was about a six-hour commute.

“My dream would be to have a private jet standing by at LAX,” Natalie joked, “but for now this is the luxury route, without the big carbon footprint.”

One family on the Friday return flight was bound for San Jose, Calif., via Tijuana and San Diego. Perhaps additional carriers will add PPE (airport code for the Mar de Cortez Airport in Rocky Point) to their flight schedules before long; but for now, you can fly into San Diego, take the shuttle to the CBX (border crossing bridge) and catch Calafia’s flight on Monday or Friday.

Cutlines: Photos by Natalie Gianelli

From San Diego you can take a cab, Uber or shuttle to the Cross Border Express bridge, which goes right into the Tijuana International Airport.

A brass plaque marks the border and commemorates the builder of the CBX.

After securing your FMM from a kiosk, you go through Mexico Customs and immigration.

The Tijuana International Airport is spacious, modern and efficient.

The twin-engine jets board from the tarmac, reminiscent of the movie Casa Blanca!

The interior is comfortable and staff is friendly and efficient.