Home    Weird facts you didn’t know about Mexico and ROSARITO – What lays West and the Al Capone myth.

What do you see where the sun sets Westerly? You are sitting on a porch or a terrace overlooking the ocean, on a house that I may have even sold you, and while you sip on your coffee (or your piña colada for that matter) you cannot help but to fix you attention on that big mass of land to the West of Rosarito, and if you’ve never taken a tour boat to it, have you ever wondered about what lays beyond that seemingly barren landscape? well then…

…wonder no more, ’cause I’ll tell ya, you’ll find: “Pilon de azucar” (pile of sugar), “Isla Norte” (North Island), “Isla Mediana” (Central Island) and “Isla Sur” (South Island). All 4 together are better known as the Mexican Coronado Islands. But DID YOU know that South Island (The only island which has a bay – “Puerto Cueva” {Cave Port}) once teemed with lots of activity from San Diegans and Mexicans alike who wanted to gamble, drink a little and have a good time? Yes, IN FACT on the West side of South Island there once stood a hotel and casino: The Coronado Islands Yatch Club.

The CIYC featured 60 rooms, some bungalows, a cabaret & casino. It was built with Mexican and American investment money around 1932 and its construction was aimed to mainly attract US tourism due to the 1930’s prohibition. Although it had moderate success, it was sadly short lived due to the end of the era of the US national prohibition and the prohibition of gambling by then Mexican President Lazaro Cardenas effectively killing the 2 main focuses of the investment, which by the way, was reported of being about $200,000 dollars (about $3,078,000 dollars today)….a really LOT of money back then, especially for a building mostly made out of wood, know what I mean? and that’s how one of the rumors about the mafia financing some of this project, got started. The cove below the casino, IN FACT was used as a pier from where to launch boats filled with boxes of alcohol destined to San Diego.

Of course, a big name such as Al Capone, one of the most widely known US bootlegger and mobster of that era had to be thrown in the mix. Although there had been many rumors about him and his connections in Baja, there really isn’t any solid proof that he may have actually visited here. However, according to many historians, it is possible (and would have made sense) that he could have come the area to form strategic alliances and establish routes for the trafficking of alcohol to the US; but it is highly unlikely that somebody like him would have wanted to attract the attention. There are however, some verbal testimonies from many people about spotting him, especially from the mexican coat checkers and cocktail waitresses from the now defunct Agua Caliente Casino, Spa & Resort (NOT the current Caliente Casino though) which was an amazing 655 acre complex built atop a natural hot spring (hence its name, Spanish for hot water) nestled at the Mexican-US border, featuring a 500 room hotel, complete with an airstrip to accommodate the US elite who would head South for a “boozy” escape; testimonies of Capone’s generosity ($50 US dollars tips) and his supposedly visits to Hussong’s Cantina in Ensenada have only helped to fuel more rumors and even books.

Going back to the Coronado Islands, DID YOU KNOW that in June of 1943 the South Coronado Island was IN FACT bombarded with live ammunition from the USS PC-815 boat? IN FACT the person responsible to give the order for such foolish act was none other than L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of scientology (Think Tom Cruise, John Travolta, etc) Mr. Hubbard conducted unauthorized gunnery exercises involving the shelling of the Coronado Islands, in the belief they were uninhabited and belonged to the United States. Unfortunately for Hubbard, the islands belonged to Mexico and were occupied by the Mexican Coast Guard at the time. The Mexican government fiercely complained and Hubbard was relieved of command in a move that effectively terminated his 80 days navy career….ay ay ay….

Today, of the Coronado Islands Yatch Club, only the concrete foundation columns remain; the hotel had been battered by the natural elements and ultimately lost to the sea by the constant ups and downs of the waves blamed on “el niño”. Wanna to know who currently lives in the South Coronado Island? Only a small Mexican navy detachment who have a garrison that stay one rotating month at the time, and the rotating scheduled fare care takers in their house. IN FACT during the prohibition time, the fare was a huge necessity due to the high number of maritime collisions that were very very very common because of the dense fog as also radar wasn’t available back then; needless to say the “bootlegging” operations and the necessity to do this dangerous trip in complete darkness, silence and with almost no point of reference.

The South Coronado Island is also home to a population of sea lions and seals. So NOW you know, when you look West where the sun sets, that the barren mass in front of Rosarito was once an attractive touristic destination and a point where alcohol contraband shipped from, bound for the US. Amazing hu?

I LOVE my community and I love history. This is my 3rd blog, I hope you’ve liked them so far; I will be posting more from time to time. To embrace a community involves to know everything about it, and that’s what I am all about. Allow me the privilege to help you if you ever have a need to acquire real estate in Baja, trust me I KNOW my area very well, I am sure you can tell. Gracias !

Related Articles

Leave a Reply


Enjoy this blog? Please spread the word :)

Follow by Email