By M.A. Velazquez
So what exactly is Ecotourism? Ecotourism is a form of tourism involving visiting fragile, pristine, and relatively undisturbed natural areas, intended as a low-impact and often small scale alternative to standard commercial tourism, and Rocky Point has some great options if you are looking to get behind the ecological movement or just want to enjoy nature!
CEDO is the Intercultural Center for the Study of Deserts and Oceans, and its offices are located in the Las Conchas residential community. Here, you can explore the natural resources of the Sonoran Desert and the Sea of Cortez. CEDO’s mission is to give coastal communities in the Gulf of California region the knowledge and tools to create sustainable livelihoods that co-exist with the natural and multi-cultural environment. That being said, here in Rocky Point, CEDO offers a visitors center that gives you a chance to explore and learn about Rocky Point as well as: A “Wet Feet Ocean Camp”, “Nature Arte” Ecotours, Tide Pool Tours, Kayaking at The Estuary, a “Pinnacate Adventure” and a San Jorge Island Trip with Snorkeling and Nature Talks.
If you choose to explore on your own, The Pinnacate Peaks (A UNESCO World Heritage Site) are a must-see! They are a group of volcanic peaks and cinder cones located in the Altar Desert of Sonora, which is between Sonoyta and Rocky Point. The tallest of the peaks is Cerro del Pinacate (also called Volcan Santa Clara), elevation 3,904 feet (1,190 m). The volcano has erupted sporadically since about 4 million years ago, probably in association with the opening of the Gulf of California. The most recent volcanic activity was about 11,000 years ago. The Pinacate Desert is also home to the largest sand dunes of the Americas. A variety of flora and fauna can also be found in the Pinacate Mountains as well. There is a nice visitors center when you can get information and hear talks complete with a media center. You can also, hike, bike, walk or camp at El Pinnacate- whatever your pleasure, El Pinacate is sure to have something for every nature lover!
Want to get out on the water? Try a day trip to San Jorge Island; (nicknamed Bird Island for the many pelicans who take up residence there) a group of several rocky islands located 27 miles east of Rocky Point and just about 11 miles from the shore outside the bay of San Jorge. Bird Island is an important biological sanctuary for a large variety of creatures including birds, mammals and sea life. It is classified as a federal zone, much like many of the islands in the gulf. In 1978, it was deemed a Federal Area of Shelter for migratory birds and wild fauna. There are several boats that make day trips out to Bird Island from the Rocky Point Marina. Due to the island being protected, humans cannot actually set foot on it so boats will drop anchor and guests can go out in kayaks or take a dip with some snorkel gear provided on the boat. The sea lions that gather around the edge of the island mountain are also a must-see! Whatever “floats your boat”; you can find it on a trip to Bird Island.
Up for a bit of unique cuisine? Take a trip out to the Oyster Farm (Ostionera). The Oyster Farm is about four and a half miles from Rocky Point on the road toward Caborca. There are three farms that offer good quality oysters and you can even extract them yourself! Experts can help guide you through the extraction process. Talk about “from ocean to plate”, what could be more interesting and exciting for seafood lovers?! At just a short drive from the round-about near Las Conchas, the Oyster Farms are perfect eco-tourism destinations. So whatever form of Eco Tourism interests you, you are sure to find many interesting and exciting activities in Rocky Point.