Santa Rosalia Santa Rosalia is the first town along the southbound transpeninsular Highway 1 that lies along the Sea of Cortez. It has traditionally been known more for unique architecture, owing to a deep French heritage, than its marine environments. For most visitors, this town is less of a destination itself, and more of a stop-off along the road where one may replenish supplies and enjoy an unusual mix of architectures and foods. Probably the most unique aspect of this town is the galvanized iron church, designed by Alexandre Gustave Eiffel for the 1889 Paris World Fair. Besides being the northernmost highway town on the Gulf coast, Santa Rosalia is also a prime departure point for an exploration of central and southern Baja in that it receives direct ferry service from the port town of Guaymas, on the mainland coast. Guaymas itself is14 miles/22km from the popular resort town of San Carlos, and about 250 miles/400km south of the border in Nogales, Sonora. Many visitors choose to drive to Guaymas and take the ferry across the Gulf of California, thereby avoiding the long and difficult drive through Northern Baja. The drive to Guaymas is a breeze by comparison, with well-maintained 4-lane highway all the way. Punta Chivato Punta Chivato has been a secret destination for the rich and famous. As a town, there is little there. A few small residential developments, a restaurant, and little else, save for one super luxurious 5-star resort. Formerly the Punta Chivato Hotel, a destination for the likes of John Wayne and many other Hollywood elite, it was recently acquired by a Loreto firm and renamed the Posada de las Flores Hotel Pt. Chivato. To get to Punta Chivato, take exit 156 off of highway one, between Santa Rosalia and Mulege, then travel about 12 miles/20km to the small point. The road is dirt, but well maintained. CheapCaribbean.com-Mexico on Sale! Must Sea’s Isla Tortuga Visible from the shores of Santa Rosalia, Isla Tortuga provides outstanding diving and fishing opportunities. Boats departing from both Santa Rosalia and Mulege frequent this island. There is even one shop in San Carlos on the mainland side of the Gulf that crosses the Sea of Cortez for a long day of diving at this superb site. There are few shallow dives at Isla Tortuga. Most sites are in the range of 60-90 feet (9-27m) with a bottom topography consisting of very large boulders and rocky outcroppings. The combination of volcanic sands and crushed calcium carbonate makes for a unique zebra-stripe pattern in the sand ridges along the bottom, a phenomenon rarely seen anywhere else on earth. Look for the golden grouper, not a distinct species, but rather a beautiful color variant of the leopard grouper, Mycteroperca rosacea. The golden phase is found in about 1% of the population, but seemingly especially prevalent at Isla Tortuga. Notable along this island is a large number of manta rays and mobulas that may visit lucky divers. For much more information about Isla Tortuga, visit our Isla Tortuga pages at our Baja – News and Views section. Isla San Marcos Fifteen miles south of Isla Tortuga, directly offshore from San Bruno is Isla San Marcos. Only one mile offshore at its closest point, this is a quick paddle for kayakers. Kayaks can be launched easily off the many beaches in the San Bruno and Santa Rosalia area. Snorkeling here is excellent. Snorkelers and scuba divers will find much the same species of Isla Tortuga without such a long boat ride. A rubble field consisting of huge boulders, making it a great site to see lots of groupers, and cabrillas, dominates the northern end of the island. Punta Santa Inez and Punta Chivato A little off the beaten path lie the points of Punta Chivato and Santa Inez. Although there are no paved roads here, graded roads exist and the small amount of effort needed to meander your way here is worth it. Superb beach diving and snorkeling exists wherever you stop the car. Depths range from 15 to 45 feet (4.5-14m). Most areas have a variety of substrates ranging from shallow sandy bays to dramatic drop-offs and submerged canyons and gigantic boulders. All manners of fish frequent the area including large yellowtail and many inquisitive triggerfish. Punta Chivato is one of the best sites in the central Gulf for beach camping. Secluded, yet possessing convenient palapas and plenty of nearby (relatively) towns for supplies, it is a great escape.