La Pesca is a town in Tamaulipas, Mexico, on the Gulf coast about halfway between Matamoros and Tampico, just north of the mouth of the Rio Bravo. As the name might suggest, it's well known for it's sport fishing, both in the Gulf and on the Rio Bravo, but there's also a long sandy beach about 2 kilometers east of town, stretching north from the lighthouse on Punta Piedra. Each year around the Easter week, as many as 50,000 people descend on the town for Spring Break, flooding the hotels and camping on the beach. Outside of Easter week, and the Christmas season, the town and beach can be very uncrowded and sedate, especially off of the weekends.
The state of Tamaulipas has long-term plans to develop La Pesca into an upscale resort area attractive to foreign tourists (though these plans have been in the works for a long time and its hard to say when or if they will be accomplished), similar to Quintana Roo's development of Cancún, complete with golf courses and high-end resorts. The good or bad news, depending on your viewpoint, is that those plans are still a long way off, and La Pesca is still fairly rustic, inexpensive, and little known to foreign tourists. For Americans or other tourists coming from the United States looking to try road tripping in Mexico, La Pesca is a great first step, an easy 4 hour drive south from Brownsville, Texas.
La Pesca is 50 kilometers east of Soto La Marina on Highway 70. There's no large airport, so it has to be reached either by car or bus. If coming by car from Matamoros, follow Highway 101 south for about 180 kilometers and turn left onto Highway 180, about 20 kilometers south of the small town of Las Norias. The turn-off is well marked. Another 80 kilometers will take you to Soto La Marina, where you'll take a left onto Highway 70, which will eventually end right on the beach at La Pesca. Highway 101 south of Matamoros is a nice four-lane highway as far as you'll take it, but Highway 180 and Highway 70 are both part new four-lane highway and part old two-lane highway. Part of Tamaulipas state's development plan for La Pesca is completing new four-lane road construction all the way to town, though, and it might be done as early as 2009.
If you're coming from Texas, remember that you'll need an importation permit from Banjercito to bring your car into Mexico, as well as temporary auto insurance (seguros de autos) that covers Mexico, both of which you can get fairly quickly and efficiently right as you cross the border into Mexico. Most border crossing will have a building immediately to your right coming into the Mexican side which will house all the offices you'd need to visit.
If you're not used to driving in Mexico, keep a keen eye out for speed bumps (topes), which are used liberally in towns to slow down traffic and can often be unmarked and unpainted.
You can catch buses to La Pesca from the bus station in Ciudad Victoria.
The town itself is small enough to walk anywhere you might need to go, but the beach is about 2 kilometers east of town. A car will definitely be the easiest way to get around, but it's possible to get everywhere you might want to go by bicycle, which you can rent or borrow from some hotels. If you do bicycle, be very careful and be prepared to yield the right of way to cars, especially on the road going out to the beach, which has no shoulders and will often have traffic in each direction, leaving little room for bicyclists. Some hotels also rent 4-wheelers or dune buggies, which can be used for basic getting around.
The main two things to do in La Pesca are to go to the beach or to go fishing. The beach is impossible to miss, just follow Highway 70, the main street, east of town and the road ends at the beach. You can park anywhere along the access roads running parallel to the beach or often just on the beach itself, but watch that you don't get your car stuck in the sand. If you're interested in fishing, most hotel proprietors will gladly set you up with a fishing guide or boat to charter, or you could ask in any of the stores in town and they will no doubt be able to refer you.
Aside from small convenience and souvenir stores, there's not much shopping to be done in La Pesca. There's sometimes a small market in the first north-south street just past the canal bridge coming into town, but it's much smaller than what you might be used to from bigger Mexican cities and it'll be mostly closed down by the afternoon.
Be sure to bring as much cash as you'll need for your stay in La Pesca, because there are no ATMs in town. A handful of stores and hotels will accept credit cards, but most will not. However, there is a PeMex station just west of the canal bridge on the west end of town if you need gas.
You can find several eating options along the main street in La Pesca. Most open during the day are mid-range priced restaurants (by Mexico standards), $30-$50 MXN for breakfst, $50-$90 MXN for lunch/dinner. In the evening, around 7:00 PM, several taco stands open in the town proper where you can easily get a good meal for about $30 MXN.
There's also several open air restaurants by the beach on the southern lighthouse end, which have pretty reasonable prices ($50-$100 MXN) considering their prime location. Also, several hotels along the western approach to town have attached restaurants.
- Costalora Restaurant, Zona Centro (downtown), ☎ +52 8353271507, e-mail: email@example.com. 8AM. Mexican food. Try camarones empanizados and huachinango enpanizado. $60-$100.
- Villa del Mar. On main street about halfway through town, lunch/dinner for about $50-$90 MXN. Try the Camarónes Rancheros.
- Restaurante Veracruzana. An open-air restaurant halfway between town and the beach, lunch/dinner for about $40-$80 MXN. Try the tacos de camarónes.
There's a good selection of mid-range hotels with river access on the south side of the highway on the western approach to town and a few more between town and the beach. More inexpensive hotels can be found in town. At the beach, several places rent primitive cabañas on Punta Piedra, on the southern end by the lighthouse.
- Hotel San Juan. A good midrange hotel (~$400-$500 MXN per night) about half a kilometer west of town. Family friendly, with a well-kept pool, a boat dock, air conditioning in each room, and grills and cooking equipment you can use to cook your catch at the end of day. They also sell fish and other seafood for the less lucky fishermen. Look for the peach colored buildings on your right as you arrive in La Pesca.
- Hotel Tropicana. This is a hotel known for it's hospitality, and is actually the last hotel on your drive towards the beach, which makes it the closest. It is a great place to stay for a different experience from the rest of the hotels, because they offer clean and pretty tropical cabins painted in bright colours, with kitchenette, T.V., BBQ pitt, pool, fishing pier, and a convenience store on the property, which is great for all the people that forget to bring stuff with them. In the store they offer everything from soft drinks, meat, t-shirts, all sorts of beach balls, and practically anything you should need. They also have a nice camping area, for all the people who want to stay in a tent because they either don't want to pay that much or just for the fun of it. Another advantage is that they have cabins from 2 to 4 persons, 5-6, 7-8 or 9-10, which is great if your traveling with a big family. The price ranges are also acceptable (~$700-$1,300 MXN per night) which if you compare to having to get 3 or 4 hotel rooms to fit a 10 person family, is actually cheap. While visiting La Pesca, look for the bright cabins on your right hand side, heading towards the beach.
- La Quinta Huachinango. Nice and private place. La Quinta Huachinango has 3 vacation apartments for rent, two 2-bedroom and one 1-bedroom, with private bathrooms, sky-tv, air-conditioning, and personal barbeque pitts. Up to 30 people. Outside there's a nice swimming pool surrounded by stone walkways, a pier, 50 meters of waterfront, and 3 palapa-covered picnic areas with barbeque grills. It's located at the edge of the "Estero," to your left on highway 70 before you enter town, about 100 yards after you pass the Costa Lora turtle monument in front of the public dock.