Tuesday, December 29, 2009

South of the border fun unlimited: Puerto Penasco

It may be Margaritaville to the college set, but it is also a winter escape for snowbirds, a dose of salt and sea air, and bargain shopping. Puerto Penasco, Mexico lies 66 miles below the border at Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, 212 miles southwest of either Phoenix or Tucson.

Here you can revive old memories of those lost weekends or semester breaks, enjoying a cold Dos Equis Beer, watching the parade of bikinis cruising the broad sandy beaches, or plying the streets in search of the perfect taco.

Winter in the desert sometimes arouses a lust for water, especially salt water, among coastal snowbirds. Near the northern tip of the Sea of Cortez, Puerto Penasco, also called Rocky Point, is the closest saltwater beach to Southern Arizona. There are several campgrounds with hookups where you can step from your RV right onto the sandy beach and plenty of boondocking as well.

And who needs to be told about the bargains among the numerous streetside stalls offering locally hand-made goods from leather purses to colorful blankets. Did someone say pescado? Rows of fishmongers line the sea front offering the catch of the day and fresh shrimp at way below US prices.

You can find Puerto Penasco at the end of Arizona Highway 85 (which becomes Mexico Highway 8). Don’t forget to buy Mexican auto insurance before crossing the border.

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