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San Carlos Nuevo Guaymas, Mexico Pickleball & So Much More!

Updated: Dec 20, 2023

Ky and I are no strangers to San Carlos Nuevo Guaymas. It is one of the few places in the world we return to again and again. There are so many reasons we love it here including incredible scenery, friendly people, great food, stellar weather, excellent hiking and kayaking, and you probably guessed it, fantastic pickleball!

Drone shot of Caracol looking towards Tetakawi peaks
Tetakawi is a local landmark that is climbable, but take plenty of water.

I’ll start with the pickleball info. The San Carlos Pickleball Club used to play at the Marina Courts, but due to devolpment, those courts are no longer available to the club. In the last year however, they opened 14 brand new, absolutely gorgeous courts. (See the Google Map location on the drone photo tag). The fund raising and development efforts were so admirable. For anyone that wants new courts in their community, this club is one to emulate.

You are unlikely to find a friendlier, more active group than the community that has built up around this pickleball playground.  There are more activities and groups formed here than any place we’ve ever seen at the more than 350 courts we’ve visited over the last 7 years.

Drone shot of 14 pickleball courts in San Carlos Nuevo Guaymas
The new beautiful 14 pickleball courts were developed by the San Carlos Pickleball Association - Google Maps location XX8C+G3 San Carlos Nuevo Guaymas, Sonora

San Carlos has a resident teaching pro, Kevin Duff. We first met Kevin at Tres Palapas Pickleball in Los Barriles, MX. Everyone loved him there and they were sad when he left to return to Canada for a while. The San Carlos Pickleball Club was definitely fortunate to lure him back. Kevin arranges drills and skills sessions, organizes ladder play for all levels, as well as tournaments. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. He is a great guy and I’ll write a separate post about the private lesson that I took from him. Watch for that post.

Women at pickleball clinic led by Mexican minor league pros Belem and Mariana
Two local women, Belem & Marianna gave a clinic to raise funds for an upcoming trip to CA to play in a MiLP tournament

If you’ve never been to Mexico, you may have some hesitations about what you’ve heard or read in the news. We personally have never had any problems, but there are things you can learn ahead of time to make the trip easier. You need to know about passport and car insurance requirements, border crossing info, car importation tax, etc. You can find an information resource for traveling specifically to San Carlos on this immensely helpful site (which is run by two pickleball friends, Sue & Krista)

If you have only flown in to a destination resort in Mexico, and taken taxis for the duration of your trip, driving yourself in to Mexico might seem daunting or scary because it is different from “home”, especially if you speak no Spanish. But travel teaches us about humanity and gives us an appreciation, understanding and respect for different points of view and ways of life. We all need that in our world more than ever now. 

If you are thinking of visiting San Carlos Nuevo Guaymas, your expectations of a perfectly groomed resort town should be left at home. Rather than giving you a typical tourist rundown of what to see and do, please let me share some observations we’ve made after traveling to 27 of 32 Mexican states. We love Mexico, and we come back again and again for many reasons. Much of what I’m writing here applies to many small towns all over the country.

Our first visit to San Carlos was during our kids’ Fall Break in 2005. We stayed at the Sea of Cortez Beach Club Timeshare. So much has changed since then, and the town of San Carlos like many places is booming. 

San Carlos is stunningly beautiful naturally, and it is a small town which is growing quickly as a result of being “discovered”. It is still a small seaside community that has many dirt roads off of the main paved ones. The small roads are likely to have potholes. You’ll have the most fun in a sturdy vehicle with high clearance. Leave your low rider at home, and find the fun and charm in getting off of constant blacktop.

Bonnie & Ky Coffey on mountain top with 4 wheel drive vehicle with friends Doug & Kelly
A side trip up and over a big hill after our hike with friends to Heradura Canyon

There are some stray dogs, but it sounds as though great strides have been made by a great organization called SBPA. It has been in business for 25 years. They rescue animals and they’ve done more than 25,000 free sterilizations over that period. Donations are appreciated because they are only limited to the number of surgeries they do by the amount of money that has been raised for the cause. Buy a bag of dried dog food with you when you arrive and you can make some fast friends. 

There are really amazing places to eat here, where the staff are superb, the margaritas and beer are cold and tasty, and the prices are extremely reasonable. A couple of our favorites are Colibri, Mesa Cortez (right on the beach and perfect for sunset) & La Calaca. All have amazing fish and shrimp tacos - you won’t find fresher seafood than San Carlos restaurants. I can’t believe that I’m sharing that info with everyone! The more the merrier though, especially here. LOL! 

Salad with goats cheese tomatoes lettuce nuts and thin vegetarian pizza at Colibri restaurant
Colibri is a local favorite. They have many vegetarian options and beautiful food.

Back in the 50s the US was struggling with trash being tossed out without a care, and it’s still a problem that plagues areas in the US. The Beautify America program was one of many programs to change peoples’ minds and habits regarding littering. Laws were enacted to fine those who would just toss litter out of cars or on the streets. It is a culture and a mindset to make our communities and the world a cleaner place, and to pick up the trash that others leave behind. 

Many towns in Mexico still struggle with this issue. Clean Up San Carlos! is a group of local volunteers who work together to beautify this naturally beautiful area by meeting up and providing trash bags and gloves to volunteers and collecting trash. If you are a volunteering type, you can pitch in when you visit. Be a good example for a cleaner community devoid of trash.

If you are interested in coming to San Carlos, the closest international airport is in Hermosillo. A car can be rented there and it is about a two hour drive on a good road.

There are lots of Airbnbs and several really great real estate offices who can help you find a rental, and then help you buy a house or condo when you fall in love with San Carlos. You’ll be in the good company of the locals and the many expats from the US and Canada who live here year round or who chose it for their snowbird homes.

View from Villa Bahia condo 5th floor of the bay and swimming pool and mountains
The view from our 5th floor condo. Not too shabby. A bit inconvenient when the elevator broke and we were without it for a week! We're in Mexico though, and mañana is still a promise.

And some more random shots of this breathtakingly beautiful area.

We're working on exploring the entire coastline of San Carlos one little bay at a time.

 white heron taking off over mangroves in the estuary of San Carlos bay
San Carlos is a bird watcher's paradise. The mangroves in the estuary behind our condo was filled with so many birds!

Drone shot People playing pickleball at Loma del Mar court in San Carlos, MX
We enjoyed playing at another local court. Many private courts are springing up around town.

Guaymas downtown decorated for Christmas
The nearby "big city" of Guaymas is geared up for Christmas.

Six people standing in front of a huge cardon cactus in San Carlos Nacapuli. Coffeys2Go
Another day, another hike with friends Jody, Greg, Doug & Kelly. This one to Nacapuli Canyon.

Boats in San Carlos Marina with Tetakawi in the background.
The San Carlos Marina is quiet on a calm morning. It's a great place to kayak to and grab some breakfast.

Lighted pickleball courts at the new San Carlos pickleball club at night
The courts are well lit, and accessible at all hours. Evenings are popular times to play.

We hope to meet on the courts in San Carlos sometime. You’ll be warmly welcomed by all the picklers. If we’re not there, please tell them the Coffeys told you to come!

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