There are many beautiful locations in San Carlos but one that literally rises above the others can be found at the Mirador Scenic Outlook. From there you can truly see the beauty of the Sonoran Desert embracing the Sea of Cortez. This area was under construction for a long period of time but celebrated its “grand reopening” March of 2019. This updated and spectacular vantage point was well worth the wait.
The site can be reached by winding your way along the bay just north of town and taking a left toward the sea. Continue chugging up the rugged volcanic hill past a modern hillside neighborhood. Just when you believe you’re heading in the wrong direction you are teased with glimpses of the turquoise water below. The journey dead ends at the entrance of Mirador San Carlos. There is a parking area but on busy days cars line the roadway for about a quarter mile and guests amble excitedly up the hill. Walking onto the property you pass open air souvenir shops and snack vendors located just beyond the entrance against the northern mountain side. While that portion of the lookout is lively you quickly find yourself drawn to the view from the railing on the opposite side. It literally takes your breath away. The twin peaks of Tetakawi rise above and down below a small cove, Playa Piedras Pintas or Beach of Painted Stones, provides glistening water. Snorkelers bob in the waves and kayaks paddle through the swirls. A sandy area further down provides ever changing messages, “I LOVE YOU”, “J. M. + M.S.” or “Hello!” spelled out in stones for the onlooking visitors above.
Strolling further down the railing you are transformed by the crystal clear waters crashing on the ruggedly fascinating coastline. The rocky coast provides irregular levels causing the turquoise sea to create a frothy like appearance with each arriving wave. The outlook ends in a triangular point that appears to levitate out over the water. This gives visitors a beautiful, unobstructed view of the expanded shoreline of San Carlos. It feels like a moving picture as birds float by at eye level and boats skim the water’s surface noiselessly beneath. From sunrise to sunset the dramatic land and seascapes are constantly altered.
It was not at all surprising to find that National Geographic designated the view from this same location called by its Spanish name, Mirador Escénico, as the #1 ocean view in the world in their coffee table book, “Secret Journeys of a Lifetime: 500 of the World’s Best Hidden Travel Gems”. The book stated that the, “Mirador is a world-class vantage point for spotting wildlife, including dolphins, pelicans, and whales”. Adding, “This scenic lookout, four miles from San Carlos, gives a peerless view over the Gulf of California, dramatic Tetakawi — a volcanic hill jutting out of the sea — and the secluded coves of Playa Piedras Pintas.” This spot is definitely worth the trip. It’s fun to know that every day a short jeep ride can result in a place to stop and enjoy the view of the rambling coastline, craggy hills, swirling sea and tranquil sunsets.
October 18, 2019
“Never go too long without watching the sunset.”
Atticus Finch, To Kill a Mockingbird