This page is an overview of ferry services across the Sea of Cortez (Gulf of California) between Baja California and mainland Mexico. It gives only basic information, see each ferry port's "Get in By boat" section for more information, or consult the ferry operator's web site for the latest schedule and fare information. The Baja California peninsula is a long thin ribbon with long distances of desolate highway from southern points like Cabo San Lucas to the northernmost point of the peninsula where it rejoins the rest of the continental land mass. The ferry eliminates thousands of kilometers of driving, replacing it with a peaceful overnight sea journey that can be spent sleeping in a private cabin.
There are three main customers for the ferries: tourists, locals and trucks. Tourists visiting the resort areas of Los Cabos look at a map and see the short distance to Mazatlan and want to cross (or vice versa). Tourists can also use the ferries as a convenient way to get between beaches of Baja and the Copper Canyon (the ferry dock at Topolobampo is about a 15-minute taxi ride to the Chepe train station in Los Mochis).
- 1 La Paz is the only ferry destination on the Baja side of the sea. Ships arrive and depart using the Pichilingue docks.
- 2 Topolobampo is the ferry port for Los Mochis and the Copper Canyon train
- 3 Mazatlan is a popular resort area in Sinaloa
Ferries follow one of two routes:
- La Paz <-> Topolobampo, 8 hours
- La Paz <-> Mazatlan, 12 hours
Baja Ferries operates 4 ships. All four depart each night at midnight, one at each end of each route, arriving in the early to late morning at their destination. Each ship accommodates 200 passengers: up to 100 in the 25 cabins, there are 65 seats in the main salon (a large seating lounge that provides comfortable reclining seats for passengers purchasing passage only), and additional seating in a restaurant and bar.
Private cabins are a good choice, especially for families. They are far more comfortable, quiet, and give you a bed where you can sleep for the overnight passage. A cabin costs about twice the price of a single passage, but can accommodate up to 4 passengers. There are 3 classes of cabin: standard, exterior, and exterior with TV. All cabins have private bathrooms.
If you plan to take the ferry to Topolobampo and then catch the Chepe train through the Copper Canyon, be aware you aren't likely to be able to catch the train the same morning you arrive by ferry---you will most likely have to spend at least a day in Los Mochis. On the other hand, if you arrive in Los Mochis on the Chepe Expres, you will likely be able to catch a west-bound ferry to La Paz shortly after the train arrives.
Passenger cars, motorcycles, and RVs can be transported but rates depend on the class, size, and weight of the vehicle. Travelers with vehicles from the United States or Canada are required to show their vehicle import permits and proof of Mexican car insurance (not usually an issues since this is similar to the requirements at border crossings).
Pets are permitted on the ferry (dogs and cats only) but there are requirements for documentation you must be able to show and the animal must be in a suitable carrier. Minimum cage sizes are required based on the size and weight of the animal.
Current schedules are online and tickets can be purchased through the Baja Ferries web site.
Obey the rules and regulations, don't jump overboard, and bring a plastic Jesus with you because, well, it can't hurt.