Travel planner

Tim Vanderpool

San Carlos is 400 miles south of Tucson. Take Mexico 15 south from Nogales, Sonora; the modern four-lane toll road charges approximately $18 round trip. For information on travel and auto insurance requirements in Mexico, go to www.aaa-arizona.com and click on "Insurance." Fall daytime temperatures average in the 80s.

To call San Carlos phone numbers from the United States, first dial 011-52-622. A useful website for planning is www.sancarlosinfo.com.

ACTIVITIES

Water Sports. Several well-established shops provide tours and gear for kayaking, fishing, and diving. They include Gary's Dive Shop (226-00-49); La Brisa Fishing Charters (226-02-97); Ocean Sports (226-06-96); and the Sonoran Sport Center (226-09-29).

Beaches. Playa los Algodones, open to the public, spreads north from the San Carlos Plaza Hotel.

Golf. Club de Golf Marina San Carlos (226-11-02) offers a championship 18-hole course.

SHOPPING

Kiamy's Gift Shop. Handcrafted jewelry and leather goods. Km. 10, Blvd. Beltrones; 226-04-00.

Sagitario. Colorful folk art from across Mexico; exquisite pottery and masks. Carretera San Carlos No. 132; 226-00-90.

DINING

Bananas Restaurant-Bar. A popular hangout with fantastic grilled fish. Calle Sol No. 246; 226-06-06.

Charly's Rock. Great ceviche and marlin tacos on a terrace overlooking San Carlos Bay. Km. 9, Blvd. Beltrones; 226-08-88.

Restaurante Rosa's Cantina. A friendly eatery serving mainstream Mexican fare. Don't miss the historic photographs. Aurora No. 297; 226-10-00.

San Carlos Grill. Excellent broiled spiny lobster and shrimp spaghetti in an ebullient atmosphere. Plaza Comercial San Carlos No. 1; 226-05-09.

ACCOMMODATIONS

Best Western Hacienda Tetakawi. Moderately priced but quite nice, and a skip away from the bay. From $54. Km. 10, Carretera A. San Carlos; (800) 528-1234 or www.bestwestern.com.

Plaza Las Glorias. Upscale and cheery; in the city center, with rooms overlooking picturesque Marina San Carlos. From $120. Blvd. Gabriel Estrada S/N; (800) 342-2644.

San Carlos Plaza Hotel. This "Gran Turismo" hotel―Sonora's highest ranking―offers deluxe rooms, a vast marbled lobby, and access to the shimmering sands of Playa los Algodones. Special rates from $105. Paseo Mar Bermejo Norte No. 4; (800) 840-1252.