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                San Carlos / Guaymas  Old and New



                           About Our Town

Tucked between dramatically sculpted peaks on the eastern shore of the Gulf of California (also called the Sea of Cortez), San Carlos is surrounded by the great Sonoran desert of northwestern Mexico and the Southwest United States. It remained an unnoticed and hard-to-reach fishing village until the 1970s, when Mexico began to develop its reputation as an inexpensive, laid-back vacation destination. This prompted the improvement of Mexico Route 15 from Nogales, Arizona, southward, encouraging an influx of travelers from north of the border.

San Carlos is an appealing destination for Americans and Canadians wanting to escape cold weather or the stress of everyday life. An easy six-hour drive from Tucson, it is the most accessible beach resort from the population centers of several Southwest states. Visitors from farther away can fly into the Guaymas airport only 14 miles/22 km south along the coast.

In contrast to nearby Guaymas (pronounced WHY-mas), a bustling seaport and commercial center for the west coast of mainland Mexico, the slower-paced resort atmosphere of San Carlos draws well-to-do Mexicans, as well as foreign vacationers. Tourism is welcomed, having replaced fishing as the mainstay of local incomes. Most store and restaurant personnel speak enough English to facilitate communication, but not so much that you forget you're in another country. Signs and menus are generally bilingual.

The streets are safe , and so is the food. The crime rate is said to be the lowest in Mexico, aided by a police checkpoint along the only road in and out. Visitors can eat at any of the 23 restaurants in San Carlos without fear of the stomach distress appropriately known as "tourista." Although local water is good enough for washing produce and brushing teeth, tradition dictates bottled water for drinking                      .      

Moderate development of condo and hotel properties has preserved the Mexican flavor of San Carlos village, while blending with and highlighting the natural beauty of the desert landscape. But the Gulf of California is the main attraction for most visitors. At places along San Carlos' 6-mile/10-km stretch of coast, eroded peaks meet the sea, forming circular bays lined by sea-smoothed stones and sea caves, which enlarge and shrink with the tides. Elsewhere, beaches of tawny sand outline miles of straight, flat shoreline

San Carlos is a fast-growing vacation resort for those who desire warm weather combined with water activities. Local businesses highlight deep-sea fishing, whale watching, sailing, kayaking and sunset margarita cruises.

The surrounding countryside also offers inviting pastimes. Hiking and mountain biking can be enjoyed on your own or in organized groups. Tour a working pearl farm, and take an excursion to a canyon that hides a natural oasis in the desert. Visit the port town of Guaymas, where Spanish colonial heritage blends with modern Mexican culture. Or play golf, shop for curios, and sample the local seafood specialties , particularly the excellent Gulf shrimp dishes.

The easiest way to dive San Carlos is to join one of the many group trips sponsored by dive centers throughout Arizona and other Southwest states. Go for a weekend, and you'll want to stay for a week.

Getting There: Six hours south of Tucson via Interstate 19/Mexico 15 or by air from Phoenix to Guaymas. A tourist visa as well as Mexican auto insurance can be obtained at the border.

Practicalities: U.S. cash and credit cards are accepted everywhere. San Carlos is in the Mountain time zone; daylight-saving time is not observed.




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