Guaymas Tourist Attractions
How to get thereBy air from La Paz, Tijuana, Guadalajara and Tucson (Arizona); by rail from Mexico City to Empalme rail station in about 34 hours; by bus from Mexico City via Guadalajara in about 31 hours; from the USA via Tijuana or Nogales.
The port of Guaymas lies in a quiet bay in the Mar de Cortés, a section of the Gulf of California rich in fish. The bay is surrounded by impressive hilly country. A ridge of high ground divides the port area from the popular bathing beaches in the bays of Bacochibampo and San Carlos.HistoryThe first Spaniards explored the bay in 1535 and named it Guaima after a tribe of Seri Indians. About 1700 Father Francisco Eusebio Kino founded the mission station of San José de Guaymas near the present harbour, but the little township of Guaymas de Zaragoza was not established until 1769. As a port shipping large quantities of precious metals from the hinterland Guaymas frequently attracted the attention of pirates and adventurers and also the intervention of foreign countries. In 1847-48, during the war with the United States, it was occupied by U.S. troops; and six years later a French expedition under Comte Gaston Raousset de Boulbon tried to seize Guaymas in order to found a private colony in Sonora - an attempt which failed and ended in the capture and shooting of the count. In 1865, during the War of Intervention, the town was occupied by French troops. Its later history ran in tandem with that of the state of Sonora.SightsThe town has few features of great tourist interest, apart from the church of San Fernando, the offices of the Banco de Sonora and the Town Hall (Palacio Municipal).It is, however, a very popular holiday resort on account of the facilities it offers for water sports of all kinds, especially deep-sea fishing (sailfish, fanfish, swordfish, etc.). Among the most popular beaches are Miramar, San Francisco, San Carlos Lalo and Catch 22.The islands of San Nicolás, Santa Catalina and San Pedro offer good diving facilities and the opportunity to observe birds and sea-lions.
The village of San Carlos (population 5000) lies 20km/12.4mi from Guaymas. In recent years a tourist centre has been developed, aimed especially at those interested in fishing and diving.
San Jose de Guaymas
Some 10km/6mi north of Guaymas, the village of San José de Guaymas has an 18th c. Jesuit pilgrimage church.
35km/21.5mi north of Guaymas stretches the Selva Encantada ("Enchanted Forest"), a huge cactus grove which is the nesting-place of many parrots.
South-east of Guaymas, along the lower course of the Rio Yaqui between Ciudad Obgregón and the Gulf of Mexico, lie several villages now occupied by Yaqui Indians, a tribe numbering over 15,000 which belongs to the large Uto-Aztec language family. The origins of this once warlike people, never completely subjugated by the Spaniards, are buried in obscurity, but until the middle of the 19th c. they were widely scattered over the state of Sonora. At the turn of the century numbers of rebellious Yaquis were deported to Yucatán by the Mexican government, but later almost all of them returned. In 1927 there was another Yaqui rising against the government, which ended with the death of their last war leader, Luis Matuz. The Yaquis are now mainly occupied in farming, hunting and fishing.The religious practices of the Yaquis are a mixture of Indian and Catholic elements. An important part is played in their social structure by various "fraternities", particularly that of the magicians and soothsayers, who on the one hand are medicine-men able to drive out evil spirits and on the other take part in religious festivals. Most social and religious rites involve dances, the best known of which is the Stag Dance ("danza del venado"). To the Yaqui and the related Mayo tribe the stag is sacred as the incantation of the forces of Good.Features of Yaqui music, especially its rhythms, have been used in symphonic works by modern Mexican composers, including Carlos Chávez.Among the principal festivals celebrated by the Yaquis are Holy Week, June 24th (Día de San Juan Bautista), October 4th (Día de San Francisco) and Christmas Week.Costume The self-government of the village communities and the region of which they form part is based on both Indian and Jesuit models.The dress of the men differs very little from that of other countryfolk in Sonora, but they frequently carry knives, pistols or ammunition pouches on their leather belts. The women wear brightly-coloured cotton blouses, skirts and rebozos (shawls), the ends of which hang down over their backs; their long hair is decked with coloured ribbons.The most notable products of Yaqui folk art are the beautifully made wood and paper masks, usually representing animals, which are worn in the old folk dances.
About 130km/80mi south-east of Guaymas lies the modern town of Ciudad Obregón (alt. 70 m (230 ft); population 380,000), which until 1924 was known as Cajeme, after a Yaqui chieftain. It is an important centre for the processing of the agricultural produce of the surrounding area. The creation of the Alvaro-Obregón reservoir has made possible the cultivation of corn, cotton, alfalfa, rice and other crops.
68km/42mi south-east of Ciudad Obregón lies Navojoa (alt. 36 m (118 ft); population 145,000), a rapidly growing modern town which is the centre of an agricultural region made productive by irrigation and growing cotton, fruit and vegetables.
Around Alamos, Navojoa, Etchojoa and Huatabampo and in the villages of Tesila, Guasave and San Miguel Zapotitlán in Sonora state, and around the towns of El Fuerte, San Blas and Los Mochis in Sinaloa extends the large area of settlement of the Mayo Indians, a tribe belonging to the Uto-Aztec language family and related to the Yaquis which still numbers some 28,000. As with most of the Indian peoples of this region, very little is known about their origin. Probably they arrived in the area between AD 100 and 1300 during the great migration of the Nahua peoples. Their first encounters with the Spanish conquistadors took place between 1530 and 1540, but this warlike tribe was not pacified until about 1700, when they were evangelised by a Jesuit mission under the celebrated explorer Father Eusebio Francisco Kino. There were serious uprisings by Mayo and Yaqui Indians at the end of the 18th c. against the Spaniards and during the 19th c. against the Mexican government, but about 1900 the Mayo gave up the struggle and turned to farming.As with other Indian tribes in this region, Mayo religious beliefs are a mingling of ancient Indian and Catholic practices, with the latter predominating. Like the Yaquis, they have a Stag Dance ("danza del venado") as well as another dance known as the "Pascola". The principal religious festivals in which dancing plays a part are May 3rd (Día de la Santa Cruz), June 24th (Día de San Juan Bautista) and October 4th (Día de San Francisco).The traditional self-government system of the Mayo Indians based on the village community, with village headmen and tribal chiefs, is now gradually breaking up. Mayo dress is now very much the same as that of their non-Indian neighbours.
Inland, 53km/33mi east of Navojoa, lies the old mining town of Álamos (alt. 410 m (1345 ft); population 20,000). The Festival of the Conception of the Virgin Mary is celebrated on December 8th, and the town is now protected as a national monument. After the discovery of gold and silver here in 1680 the town grew rapidly and 100 years later had a population of over 30,000. Its decline began with the fall in silver prices, and thereafter raids by the warlike Mayo Indians and the turmoil of the revolutionary wars reduced it to a mere ghost town. Then after the Second World War a group of artists from the United States settled in Álamos and began to restore some of the old buildings. The Casa de los Tesoros and the Palacio Almada are now hotels. Other features of interest include the parish church, the House of Mexican Folk Art and the pottery centre of La Uvulama. In recent years many retired people from the USA have come to àlamos, building houses in an "Americanised" version of the colonial style.
Rock Paintings, La Pintada
Access to La Pintada is by way of the MEX 15 towards Hermosillo. After 80km/50mi a track leads off to the right to La Pintada, a further 6km/4mi. From here it is a 20-minute climb up to some interesting rock-paintings on the walls of a gorge. Painted mainly in shades of black, ochre and red, they portray dancing, hunting and boating scenes as well as animal and heraldic symbols attributed to the Seri Indians.