The History of San Carlos

San Carlos, Sonora, Mexico, home to several thousand American and Canadian retirees and beautifully immersed in Mexican culture and tradition, is a relatively new resort, officially becoming a 'commissariat' of Guaymas in September 1963. And, as such, its history is significantly tied to nearby Guaymas - a seaport city of 150,000 residents, just 11 km (seven miles) southwest of San Carlos. Guaymas was discovered by Spanish explorers in 1539.

Guaymas Area History

The Guaymas area was occupied by the fierce Guaymenas Indian tribe, which caused enough resistance to the Spanish that they were not able to actually occupy the area until the 18th century. The history of Guaymas, due to the early Indian inhabitants, dates back over 2,000 years. The Yaqui, Guaimas and Seri Indians lived in this natural habitat, sustained by the waters of the Sea of Cortez, which provided an abundance of food and the imposing figure of the Tetakawi mountain, which supplied the mystical powers for the spirits of warriors that so valiantly defended its shores.

In 1701, Padres Salvatierra and Kino founded a short-lived mission settlement in Guaymas. The mission was soon destroyed by the Guaymenas Indians, but another attempt was made in 1769. This proved to be successful, and the new town of San Jose de Guaymas was named. Numerous small villages (camps) were located around the area, and the largest still remains inhabited and is located about 12 miles to the south of Guaymas with a population of 200.

A desirable port city, Guaymas/San Carlos was occupied by foreign military forces several times. During the 1847-48 Mexican-American War, 2 US naval vessels, the 'Eagle' & 'Reliant' captured the San Carlos/Guaymas areas taking control of the harbors & town until late 1848, and then very briefly in 1853 by the 'freebooter' William Walker.

1854 saw the French pirate 'Captain Rousset' operating in the Sea of Cortez. His pirate forces attempted to overtake Guaymas in a surprise attack with a well-armed group of 400. The battle, which lasted 4 days, initially overwhelmed local forces but by the end local militia forces remarkably managed to capture the pirate leader. After his capture and execution his surviving pirate crew disappeared and scattered into the seven seas!

The area was briefly occupied again in 1865 by the French under Emperor Maximilian. The first two decades of 1900 brought revolution again to Mexico, and the port/cove areas suddenly became supply points for General Francisco (Pancho) Villias 'Army of the North'.

By 1910, ships from California, China, England, France and Germany were regularly unloading freight at Guaymas. While its import/export role declined, it's commercial and sports fishing role gained in importance.  Today, Guaymas is Mexico's 7th largest port, handling approximately 4% of the nation's total maritime cargo. The city's large commercial fishing fleet brings in an abundance of Mexico's fishing harvest - shrimp being the largest catch.

Guaymas is the birthplace of three former Republic of Mexico presidents:

Abelardo Rodriguez,
Plutarco Elias Calles and
Adolfo de la Huerta

San Carlos History 

This history of San Carlos and pictures are courtesy of Senor Raphael Caballero. Grupo Caballero website

The community of San Carlos was founded on lands that were a large cattle ranch known as the Baviso de Navarro. This was later subdivided in four great estates known as Rancho Los Algodones, Rancho San Carlos, Rancho El Baviso and Rancho El Represo. In the mid 1950s, Mr. Rafael T. Caballero acquired the ranches Los Algodones, San Carlos and El Baviso. He began the planning and development of San Carlos. The idea of a low density, environmentally friendly resort and retirement community has been proven not only prudent, but visionary! (Grupo Caballero) In time San Carlos would become one of the first and most important tourist and recreational communities in the State of Sonora.

While the private investors began the initial works for this development, the State Congress of Sonora  issued a declaration establishing the official incorporation of the Township of San Carlos, Nuevo Guaymas, Municipality of Guaymas, Sonora, Mexico, on the 28th of September,1963.

In the 1960's, San Carlos caught the eye of the motion picture industry from California - going 'Hollywood' as the location site of many movies, including:

The classic 'Catch 22' -starring Alan Arkin, Orson Welles, Martin Sheen, Bob Newhart, Anthony Perkins & more
'The Mask of Zorro' - starring Antonio Banderas, Anthony Hopkins & Catherine Zeta Jones
'Lucky Lady' - starring Liza Minelli
'Camaroneros' - Mexican production staring Erick del Castillo
'Por Tu Amor' a Mexican soap opera or Novella

As a result, directors, actors and movie crews descended on the area and started planting the seeds of modern day San Carlos.Soon thereafter, the hotel/resorts of Paradiso and the San Carlos Plaza were built - both with amazingly beautiful beach frontage.

By 1963 a "Master Plan" was in place and the infrastructure development underway. Enjoy these "Before" and "After" photos. In these days of "Mega Resort" developments, San Carlos still retains a "small town" feeling with "5 star" services and amenities in a safe and secure "magical" setting. For thousands of years the energy and beauty of the mountains, desert and sea have captured the hearts and minds of all who visit here.

Today, San Carlos is alive with residents and travelers all enjoying:

Tranquil white sandy beaches (some of the best in Latin America),
Sports fishing and scuba diving opportunities - all accessible from the marinas of San Carlos,
One of them being Mexico's largest yacht marina - Marina San Carlos,
An abundance of Tennis Courts and an 18 hole Championship Golf Course,
The unique flavor and culture of Mexico and
The clear beautiful blue-green waters of the Sea of Cortez - occupied by an abundance of sea-life: dolphins, whales, pelicans, 800 varieties of fish and much more


Algodones 1956

Algodones Today

The Bahia - 1957

The Area in 1960

The Area today

The Highway - 1960

Boulevard Beltrones-Today

Building the Road 1960

The Road today

Club de Yates -1960

Marina San Carlos

The Marina 1961

The Marinaterra Hotel

Marina 1961

Marina San Carlos Today

Marina 1962

Vista Caracol 1961

The Caracol Today

Trailer Park 1961

Posada 1962

Posada Today

Marina Real

Marina Real Today

The Country Club 1979

The Country Club today
This history of San Carlos and pictures are courtesy of Senor Raphael Caballero. Grupo Caballero website