Mexico
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Puerto Penasco, Mexico

Mexico
Puerto Peñasco, on the northeast coast of Mexico’s Gulf of California, is committed to raising its profile, and raising up condominium towers -- such as this one, at Las Palomas development -- and vacation homes are one way to do it. Las Palomas is among several condo resorts (it also rents units to guests) that have risen in the last five years as Puerto Peñasco, in Sonora state, seeks to lure visitors away from nearby Baja California. (Christopher Reynolds / Los Angeles)
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Vacationers zig and then zag en route to their unit at Las Palomas. Puerto Peñasco has long been a getaway for Arizonans, but it’s flinging its net wider these days. The first flights from California started landing here Oct. 30, a new airport is supposed to make its debut by summer 2009, and a new highway is due to open later this year, shortening the drive from Southern California by about 100 miles. (Christopher Reynolds / Los Angeles)
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Lounging poolside is dandy, but Puerto Peñasco also offers more active pursuits, including fishing, watersports, off-roading and golf. (The Mayan Lakes course, by the way, was designed by Jack Nicklaus.) (Christopher Reynolds / Los Angeles)
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The Peñasco del Sol, overlooking Sandy Beach, is one of a handful of substantial hotels serving Puerto Peñasco, where the focus has been on vacation condos. Such ventures give developers a quicker payoff and give return visitors a chance to own their own piece of the place. (Christopher Reynolds / Los Angeles)
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The beach widens when the tide goes out at Puerto Peñasco. A visitor also can encounter nature at the craters and lava fields of El Pinacate national park, 32 miles north of town; San Jorge island, 27 miles away by boat, offers birding and snorkeling in the company of sea lions. (Christopher Reynolds / Los Angeles)
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Sculpture reaches toward an exotically colored sky along Puerto Peñasco’s downtown malecón. Chasing a sunset led a Times reporter up the town’s biggest hill to a pleasant encounter with two restaurants. At Casa del Capitán, you get Mexican dishes, mariachi music and general festivity amid hues of orange and yellow. At the Lighthouse, there was quiet jazz and a more international menu. (Christopher Reynolds / Los Angeles)
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A Jacuzzi-style tub comforts visitors at the Puerta Privada condos. Elaborate water features have been a characteristic of condo developments that have sprung up in the last few years at Puerto Peñasco. (Christopher Reynolds / Los Angeles)
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A half-hour south of Puerto Peñasco, the lobby of the 3-year-old Mayan Palace gives a hint that these are some of the area’s fanciest lodgings. The Mayan combines time-share units with short-term rentals, at $395 a night and up. (Christopher Reynolds / Los Angeles)
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As viewed from the air, Puerto Peñasco is embraced by water, sky and a sandpaper-flat desert. (Christopher Reynolds / Los Angeles Times)
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