My husband, Rich, is as avid a fisherman as I am a quilter. Every Sunday morning, he listens to a fishing radio show called “Let’s Talk Hook-up” on “The Mighty 1090” station. Rich listens every Saturday and Sunday morning live streaming on our computer. As well as having guests on the show talking about fishing, listeners are encouraged to call in and ask questions. Frequently the show gives away prizes to one or two callers. Rich has won things like packages of fishing lures or hooks, and even some half-day ocean fishing trips. A few weeks ago, he was stunned to be the winner of an all-expenses paid 4 day 3 night trip for two to the Altata Bay Resort, which is located about 100 miles north of Mazatlan, Mexico, on the Sea of Cortez. This area of Mexico is totally undiscovered by American tourists/fishermen, and the owner of the resort as well as the Sportfishing Association of California, co-sponsor of the trip, is hoping to get the word out about what a fabulous, unspoiled tourist destination it is. I cannot express how wonderful everyone involved was in helping us make this trip happen.
First, we had to get our passports since we hadn’t traveled internationally for decades. Then Ken Franke, President of SAC, told us exactly which flights to purchase, and we got a reimbursement check for our tickets even before we left on the trip. We drove to the San Jose, CA airport the night before our early morning flight (we live about 2 1/2 hours south) and stayed at a hotel. From San Jose, we flew to San Diego, where we were met personally by Ken, who then drove us to the new Cross-Border Express pedestrian tunnel that lets you out right in the Tijuana, Mexico airport. This is the easy way to get across the border, and we would never have known about it without Ken’s help. He helped us fill out our visa paperwork and purchased round trip tickets for us to cross the border through the tunnel, told us exactly where to go and how to get through Mexican customs going into the country.
We then got on our flight from Tijuana to Culican, Mexico, where we were met by Neza, one of the interpreters provided for us, and Sandra, a videographer who documented our adventure in Mexico. Neza immediately took our bags, then drove us to the hotel at Altata Bay, where we were greeted by many wonderful staff people from the hotel, including our other interpreter, Elsa, who hung out with me while Rich went fishing. From the very beginning we were treated as honored VIPs. We were taken to our room in the top notch Altata Bay Hotel. The photo at the beginning of this post is the view from the balcony of our room. The room was beautifully decorated, and was topped off by a welcoming fruit basket. Here is a photo of the inside of our room.
After we freshened up, we were escorted across the street to the restaurant which is part of the hotel resort. It is built right over the water and is covered with palm frond palapas. There we were greeting by this appetizer platter. No, this wasn’t our dinner, but just the appetizer.
I forgot to mention that, along with Mazatlan, Altata Bay is the shrimp capitol of the world. So this platter contained shrimp of every description as well as calamari and Red Snapper, which is type of locally caught fish. Everything was incredibly delicious. Here is a photo from the water side of the restaurant. Some of the palm fronds were in the process of having new ones placed, which is why you can see the framework of some of the palapas roofs.
You can see a bit of the hotel in the background.
We were then taken on a cruise of Altata Bay on what I call a party boat, which is covered and with benches all the way around, a dance floor in the middle and a bar and restrooms on one end. The bay is incredible. I don’t know the actual statistics, but it seemed like it was about 20 miles long. It is wrapped on the ocean side by mangroves and has mangrove islands dotted here and there. These mangroves make excellent inshore fishing. Here is a sunset view from the party boat.
After our sunset cruise, we were brought back to the restaurant where we were introduced to what seemed like every dignitary in the town, who joined us for a wonderful dinner. We also met the owner of the resort and his lovely family. Fausto loves to fish as much as Rich does, and he and Rich went fishing together every day we were there. I dubbed them Hermanos de Pescadero, which if I have my Spanish right, means Fishing Brothers. Here is a photo and from the left are Neza, Fausto and Rich.
The first full day, Rich and I, along with Sandra and her camera, Neza and Elsa, joined the boat crew to go fishing off shore in the Sea of Cortez. We were trolling for Dorado, which is also known as Mahi-Mahi. Daniel, the crew member, who you see in the photo below, was wonderful in making sure all the fishing rods were baited and positioned correctly in holders. He even took the fish off the hook for you. Rich caught several small ones that he threw back to grow up and two really nice ones that we brought home frozen and vacuum sealed. Here is one of the smaller Dorados he caught.
Aren’t they beautiful fish? Tasty too. Here is the largest one Rich caught.
I didn’t want to fish, so I just kicked back and enjoyed the day. In the early afternoon, we went back to shore, ate more wonderful shrimp, and went back to the hotel and took a nap. Then it was time for our massage, my first ever professional massage. It was wonderful. Rich decided he didn’t want a massage, so he just hung out with Elsa in the small restaurant in the hotel where we were served breakfast every morning before fishing. Rich didn’t know what he was missing passing on his massage.
Then of course, it was time to eat again. I swore, I would never to eat again after this trip was over. We lingered over dinner every evening visiting with Miguel, the restaurant manager, Jesus, the hotel manager, Elsa, Neza, Fausto and his family, enjoying fine wine and beer, depending on our preference.
The next day, Rich, Fausto and Neza went in-shore fishing among the mangroves in the next bay north, Dautillos Bay. There they caught Pargo and Snook, two types of fish that we don’t have in California. This is one of his Pargo.
I chose to hang out with Elsa, who took me on a driving tour of some of the local areas, including a lovely marina area north of the Altata Bay resort that is called Nuevo Altata. Here is a photo of the marina and the marina restaurant taken from the water. This restaurant is where we met the fishermen for lunch that day and we were served another outstanding meal.
We then went back to the hotel where this time both Rich and I had a massage. After a nap, we took another boat Eco-cruise, this time to the south end of the bay where there is a mangrove island that is a favorite nesting site for many varieties of exotic birds.
The types of birds on this island include albatross, frigates, cormorants, snowy egrets, and what looked like a cross between a flamingo and an egret resulting in a dark pink bird. If you click on the photo below to enlarge it, you can see one of these birds below the three flying birds towards the right that look like they are stacked one on top of another.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get a photo of one of these pink birds flying. They hid in the foliage. We were then cruised to a dock on the south side of the bay, where we took one of those surrey topped multi-person bicycles and pedaled our way back to the hotel’s restaurant for dinner, and then off to bed.
On our last day, Rich and the guys went off-shore deep water fishing, where a tank full of live shrimp were provided for bait. They caught Red Snapper and Triggerfish. I spent the morning kicked back in our room with a good book, enjoying the view. Then in the afternoon, Elsa, Fausto’s wife and daughter, and another friend and her son joined me on a boat to head out to a sandspit located where the bay meets the ocean. There is a little beach cottage there where some of the cooks from the resort had gone out earlier to make a bar-be-que lunch for all of us.
We met the fishermen out there where we enjoyed a wonderful lunch of shrimp and one of the Snook that Rich had caught the day before.
Afterwards, we came back to the hotel and freshened up. Then we went to the restaurant where, to our surprise, the resort had arranged for two wonderful singers to entertain us during dinner. They were really fabulous entertainers. Miguel, the restaurant manager, had asked a few days before in casual conversation what kind of music we liked, so they serenaded us with many of our favorites. After a couple of beers for Rich and a glass of wine for me, we were talked into going up and doing some karaoke. I think we should keep our day jobs. Some of the staff got up and sang as well. It was really a lot of fun. And once again, we were served a beautifully presented and delicious dinner of grilled fresh tuna and roasted vegetables. It was definitely photo-worthy.
We had an early flight the next morning, so returned to the hotel for a good night’s rest. The next morning, Neza drove us to the airport and was instrumental in getting us properly checked in, including our small shrink wrapped ice chest of vacuum packed frozen fish. We were actually able to take it as a carry on because of Neza smoothing the way by talking to the right people in Spanish. We had a great flight back, breezed through customs, returned through the Cross Border Express tunnel and were met on the other end again by Ken Franke, who treated us to a wonderful lunch at the San Diego marina. We had a long layover in San Diego.
After the long drive home from the San Jose airport, we walked into our house at 11:30 P.M. and discovered it was 86 degrees inside and the power had been off since 10 P.M. Oh, my! It didn’t come back on until 6 A.M. We wanted to go back to Altata Bay, where, even though it was warm, there was always a nice breeze that kept us comfortable.
We had a wonderful time on our trip, and as I said, were treated like royalty. I would highly recommend to anyone who wants to flee the country for a great vacation, give Altata Bay Resort a try. The people are wonderful, the food outstanding, the accommodations top-notch, the scenery beautiful, and the fishing abundant and diverse. The resort also offers a deep sea tournament the first weekend in July for fishing enthusiasts. And for families, they are hoping to add whale watching excursions to their activities. Even some of the locals haven’t yet discovered Altata Bay, which was made clear to us on our flight from Culican to Tijuana. One of our fellow passengers happened to see the photos I had on my phone that I was showing to Rich. After admiring Rich’s catch, he said he was eager to make it a destination for his next vacation.
Hasta La Vista, Altata Bay!