Looking for unspoiled, pure white sandy beaches, abundant marine life, an abundance of water sport activities and spectacular landscapes, state of the art marinas that will launch you into the world of sports fishing? Go to San Carlos.
Located on the eastern shore of the fabulous Sea of Cortez, San Carlos, Mexico is only 1 3/4 hrs. from LAX or 1 1/4 hrs. from Phoenix by air, and by car it is only 250 miles (a 4-hour drive) from Nogales, AZ on Mexico Highway 15, a four-lane divided highway. No problemo!
In the mid-1950s, Rafael T. Caballero (founder of Grupo Caballero) purchased three large ranches known as “El Baviso”, “Rancho San Carlos” and “Los Algodones” and began planning the development of San Carlos. Officially becoming a ‘commissariat’ of Guaymas in September 1963 when a Master Plan was in place and the infrastructure development underway, its history is significantly tied to nearby Guaymas – a historic seaport city of around 140,000 residents “discovered” by Spanish explorers in 1539.Also called “Nuevo Guaymas”, San Carlos is a new town (population about 7,000), about 10 minutes northwest of the old city of Guaymas in the state of Sonora.
About 70% of the town’s residents are Canadians and Americans. It is full of lovely residential areas, sophisticated marinas, a beautiful wide boulevard as the main street, 18 holes of championship golf and all the other amenities required to support a resort destination. It even has a bowling alley. So you wouldn’t expect to find much of a “Mexico” feel there– but you will. Perhaps this is due in part to its proximity to Guaymas and to the fact that until recently it was not well known to residents of Mexico’s northern neighbors. The Guaymas area has long been a favored vacation destination for Mexicans, though.
Guaymas itself is a bustling seaport. It has all the infrastructure you could want– including sophisticated shopping malls, fine restaurants, grocery shopping, movie theaters, etc. Plus a few hundred years of history to explore. (For more information about the history of the area, and about Guaymas, go to http://whatsupsancarlos.com/)
Famous movies filmed in the area include:
- The classic film Catch-22, starring Alan Arkin, Orson Welles, Martin Sheen, Bob Newhart, Anthony Perkins.
- The Mask of Zorro – starring Antonio Banderas, Anthony Hopkins & Catherine Zeta-Jones
- Lucky Lady – starring Liza Minnelli
San Carlos occupies a desert/sea niche, a twin to the Baja Peninsula across the Sea of Cortez. Moderated by the sea breezes, the winters are not so cold and the summers not so hot as the desert environs to the north and further inland — but expect the summers to be hot and humid nonetheless.
If you are a person who enjoys the feeling of great personal freedom, a laid back atmosphere and plenty of sun and water while vacationing, this could be the spot for you.
What is there to do in San Carlos?
The scuba diving here is excellent and the town has a very well developed diving community. Though you will not find the brilliant corals and sea life you’d expect in the Caribbean, there is an abundance of marine life, artificial reefs and shipwrecks for your exploring pleasure. This is also one of the best game fishing areas in the world, and whale watching (in season) is a pure joy. Anything you can think of to do in, on or around the water is available in San Carlos.
Or if you are more lazy on your vacations, you can just bake around the pool, enjoy a day at the spa, find a quiet beach all to yourself, take a sunset cruise, or wander through the multitude of shops and boutiques that will entice you.
For dining, should you decide against cooking for yourself, you will find not only a plethora of Mexican establishments but just about every other kind of cuisine as well.
All in all, this is an emerging area that can best be described as Sonora’s “best kept secret” — and one of Mexico’s best kept secrets as well.
A good place to stay is at an Interval International-affiliated Premier Resort right on one of the best beaches around. This is Diamond Resorts International’s Sea of Cortez Beach Club.
The Beach Club, a four-story resort with 44 units, is a smallish, and therefore exclusive, property that sits right on the beach and feels very private as there are rocky outcroppings on both sides. All units are air conditioned, but with the breezes fresh off the sea there are many times during the year when air conditioning isn’t needed.
The resort has a heated pool, private patios, and grills for guests to use for cookouts. Accommodations range from studios to 1-bedroom, 2-bedroom and 2-bedroom Presidential. Bedrooms are spacious with king-sized beds, and there are well-appointed bathrooms featuring a bath tub and shower. Enjoy the convenience of cooking and dining in while in the comfort of your own kitchen equipped with a full size refrigerator, exclusive purified water faucet, microwave, coffee maker, toaster and many other modern appliances. Each accommodation offers a private balcony/ patio with breathtaking ocean views, telephone, iron/ironing board, satellite TV, DVD/Blue Ray Player, electronic safe and air conditioning.
If you don’t feel like cooking, the resort’s restaurant serves very good food and the resort is also close to several other restaurants to fill all your dining needs.
*Note that through December 2014 Wi-Fi services are being upgraded and Wi-Fi access may be limited at times during your stay. There are two computer stations with complimentary high-speed internet access and printer located in the lobby area available for guests to use.
Whatever they want to call it, you really should give a look-see at San Carlos. Forget the Mexican Riviera this time around. Visit this wonderful combination of sea, desert, luxury and warm Mexican hospitality while it is still un-ruined by the commercialism that has threatened to overwhelm Cabo San Lucas and its counterparts.
Diamond Resorts’ lovely Sea of Cortez Beach Club in San Carlos, Sonora, Mexico: Remember its name.
Some Web sites you may want to visit for more information:
- http://www.sancarlosmexico.com/ –A fairly thorough site for San Carlos
- http://www.go2sancarlos.com/ –Basic info on the area
- http://www.whatsupsancarlos.com/ –Another thorough website about San Carlos
- http://forum.sancarlosmexico.com/ –A San Carlos forum
- https://suite.io/bob-bowers/3vd32ns –Birding in San Carlos
“On the Road” is a compilation of destination ideas, resort reviews, videos and more gathered from a variety of sources that includes our readers.
The purpose of “On the Road” is to showcase some of the magnificent places in the world to visit, to give you an idea for someplace to go that you might previously not have thought of or known about. In most cases, but not all, we have provided a brief overview of a timeshare resort in the spotlighted area. Most of those resorts are either RCI Gold Crown or I.I. Premier quality. However, these resorts are not usually the only timeshare resorts in the area; be sure to check in your exchange catalog for a complete listing of available resorts. Check it out— enjoy yourself, go somewhere new this year!
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