This past weekend was Valentine’s Day. I am a horrible person, so I totally forgot about it and did not buy my partner anything for the holiday. Do not ask me how or why I forgot, it’s not like February fourteenth is a hard date to remember. I just did. I know many people do not celebrate Valentine’s Day because they’re forever alone, but I am not. I love giving sappy presents. So, you can imagine my joy when I got this text…
Um, hell yes! My family has always had two designated travel locations: Anaheim, California (AKA Disneyland) and Puerto Peñasco, Sonora, Mexico (AKA Rocky Point). Arizona is positioned happily in a geographical warm hug between California and Mexico, so it is fairly cheap and easy to vacation in both places. I have so many incredible memories on the beaches and in the markets of Rocky Point. The majority of my favorite childhood experiences were spent in sandy places.
My partner, Austin, has never had the pleasure of traveling to my childhood beach, so I quickly and enthusiastically started planning out our Valentine’s weekend. Thank God for my mother. If it was not for her, I might have totally forgotten the need to get Austin a Valentine’s Day present. I also would have never been born. There are many things my mom does for me, but for now we will focus on Mexico.
For those of you that have never been to a temperate place during the winter, here. Have this. I literally only pack the basic necessities for a weekend beach trip: bathing suits, sweatpants, shorts, tank tops, a long sleeve shirt, and my Birkenstocks. The weather in the Winter is around 80*F and at night it drops to around 65*F, so it’s necessary to pack a couple of warm items. I wore my UGGs, leggings, and a sweatshirt on the drive there so I did not have to worry about packing bulky items.
The best part about packing lightly is that I spend less time unpacking and worrying about my stuff, and more time enjoying the place I am.
We left Friday afternoon for the four hour trek across the border and ended up arriving in Mexico long after the sun had set. Everyone in the car was feeling hungry. We had to stop for tacos before we got to the hotel, which led us to (what I believe is) one of the best Mexican food restaurants on the planet.
8 carne asada tacos, 4 carnitas tacos, 3 shrimp tacos, 1 chicken quesadilla, 1 shrimp quesadilla, and a side of frijoles along with 4 different salsas, shredded cabbage, limes, marinated onions, cucumbers, and radishes all came out to be less than $40. Score. I should note here that the tortillas used for the quesadillas was about 18 inches in diameter. They were divine.
I include videos of the restaurant we went to, as well as the rest of our adventures in Rocky Point, in the video at the bottom of this post. Check it out if you’re interested in getting a first person view of this fun little city!
After eating ourselves into a tryptophan induced state of relaxation, we settled into the hotel, sat on the balcony, and looked at constellations. After an hour of appreciating the beach at night, we decided to turn in early and wake up before the sunrise to start our first day.
If you have never seen the sunrise light up the ocean, you need to. Immediately. Stop reading and go to your nearest ocean.
There are few things as breathtaking as waking up to the pastel ocean as it reflects the powder blue of the morning sky.
A lot of great things happen in the morning. Starting your day when the Sun comes up is invigorating, especially when the day has so much promise ahead! Because we only had one full day to adventure, we had our entire day loosely planned out, with enough time in between activities to ensure we were able to add or subtract events if we saw fit. First things first, we headed to the Super Ley (Puerto Peñasco’s resident indoor supermarket). Only in Mexico can you find celebrations of La Día de San Valentín commemorated by 12 packs of Tecate arranged in the shape of un corazón.
Que realmente es una obra maestra.
(It really is a masterpiece)
We also roamed around the deli, the aisles, and the produce area to show Austin all of the strange and delicious things you can buy at a common supermarket in Mexico. If you aren’t really into food, we can’t be friends. You might not understand the desire to poke around supermarkets in different countries. However, it always amazes me how big and colorful every single item is in Mexican stores. American food culture is so different from Mexican culture when it comes to food; in Mexico they embrace everything that is fresh, bold, bright, and strange.
I have also noticed that Mexican culture isn’t wasteful. Mexican companies have found ways to package products in a way that encourages using everything down to the last drop. Mayonnaise and “Catsup” in a bag seems ridiculous – so ridiculous that I had to take a picture – but it is actually really smart. It’s like a toothpaste container… for your sandwich condiments. Live, laugh, love it.
After stocking up on the basics (beans, tortillas, guacamole, limes, and cheese #treatyoself), we headed to the fish market in Bella Vista to get shrimp. Rocky Point is known for being a shrimp town, and since I’m a pescatarian, I needed fresh shrimp in every form because shrimp is the fruit of the sea. You can barbecue it, boil it, broil it, bake it, saute it. There’s uh, shrimp-kabobs, shrimp creole, shrimp gumbo. Pan fried, deep fried, stir-fried. There’s pineapple shrimp, lemon shrimp, coconut shrimp, pepper shrimp, shrimp soup, shrimp stew, shrimp salad, shrimp and potatoes, shrimp burger, shrimp sandwich… and that’s about it.
The Rocky Point fish market is a fun little street filled with restaurants, freshly caught fish, and salespeople. There is no shortage of street art and inexpensive souvenirs, which according to the locals are “almost free.” We stopped into the Linda Vista, which is a restaurant in the fish market, for breakfast (AKA Dos Equis and margaritas) and checked out the street art while we were there. And, of course, we tried on the lopsided $5 RayBan knockoffs for kicks.
Other popular (and delicious) restaurants you can check out in Rocky Point are Pollo Lucas, Wrecked at the Reef, JJ’s Cantina, Mare Blu, The Satisfied Frog, Friendly Dolphin, Thrifty Ice Cream (yes, I know it’s dessert but I don’t care and this is my blog post), and Lucky’s Cantina. Branch out from the fish market for food if you have time! If not, Bella Vista is a street filled with great options and a great view from any seat in the house.
By the time we left the fish market, it was noon. Which meant that it was time to catch some sun and lay on the beach for a few hours! It was time for the main event!
There are three main beaches that you can go to in Puerto Peñasco: Las Conchas, La Choya, and Sandy Beach. Las Conchas is the easternmost beach and is mostly, but not entirely, covered with reefs and rocks that make for an unpleasant experience if you want to get in the water (which you should), but it’s fine if you want to lay on the beach and stay away from the shore. La Choya is a bay on the northwest side that is subject to complete draining at low tide. This is not a joke. The entire bay goes dry when the tide goes out and you are no longer looking at the ocean, you’re just looking at damp sand. Then there is Sandy Beach, which is where all of the new high rises have sprung up. It’s for good reason. Sandy Beach is mostly true to its name and has few reefs and rocks to hurt yourself on, it has the most appeal to people who want everything: tanning, swimming, fishing, water sports, etc. It’s my personal favorite, clearly.
Sandy Beach is also great for doing yoga when the tide is out, because it goes out so far and the hard sand is solid enough to maintain your balance… kind of.
There is a never ending supply of tropical treats – think pineapple piña coladas and mangos with lime, chile powder, and chamoy – and mind blowing sunsets, too. Honestly, it’s a blue water, 85*, tropical, inexpensive, friendly, quiet paradise.
LOOK AT THE FRIGGIN’ WATER.
It’s also peaceful enough to be able to post up and read a book, if you’re into that kind of thing. I am.
It was a beautiful day and a wonderful way to celebrate La Día de San Valentín with the people I love: Austin, my parents, and my sister (we were only missing the thirteen-year-old sister). Not living in the same city as all of them has proven to be stressful and difficult for all of us, so the time we spent together was much needed and well worth it. We finished it off by eating more Mexican food and watching the sunset together. #nomakeup #nofilter
My dad at one point decided he wanted to drown a tortilla chip in hot sauce because the salsa that came with our chips “wasn’t hot enough.” He picked up one of the bottles on the table, didn’t read the label, and proceeded to dump about 2 teaspoons onto his chip. Immediately after putting the whole chip in his mouth, my dad started coughing and hacking like crazy. This is a guy who eats ghost peppers to prove he can. He eats jalepeños for fun. Do I understand why he does these things? No way. I just know he does. I’ve seen him do it. So, if you go to Mexico at any point and you have taste buds, avoid this hot sauce at all costs.
After our server saw my dad’s reaction, he asked my dad, “Oh no, did you eat the habanero? That’s the hottest hot sauce in Mexico.” Twenty minutes of exasperated coughing later, my dad finally regained his strong demeanor and we were able to carry on with our night. It was hilarious, but I don’t recommend that anyone else puts themselves through this.
The next day, we sat on the beach for a couple hours again and then went home. But not before stopping to get more tacos, because obviously. I had to take a picture of the spread of toppings. You cannot find these colors just anywhere. I wish I could paint with those limes, they’re the best shade of green I have ever friggin’ seen.
I could rant on and on about Mexican food, and I have for the past 1500 words, so I will just leave it at that.
The moral of this long, foodie story is this: if at any point, an opportunity to go to Puerto Peñasco arises, take the opportunity and run with it. Enjoy the food, the culture, the beach, and the people. Fall in love with your company, or go alone and fall in love with the place. Most of all, take some advice from James Taylor and go where “it sounds so sweet with the sun sinking low.”