The Ferry between Baja California Sur and Sinaloa is a great way to expand your vacation to a new world. If you are in Sinaloa and want to experience La Paz you can drive your car up o the ferry and experience Baja! Tourists in San Carlos, Guaymas or Puerto Peñasco find the ferry an excellent alternative to driving west to California, then south to La Paz.
Alternatively, for tourists in Baja California Sur – driving your rig onto a ferry en route to Sinaloa can give you great value for your time. Let the ferry take care of your transportation while you sleep.
When it comes to traveling between Baja California and Mainland Mexico. There are two main ferry companies passengers can choose from: Baja Ferries or Santa Rosalia Ferries. Keep reading for a complete breakdown of each.
Fees for the ferries can get confusing as there are four different costs to pay. First, each person traveling on the boat will need to pay a passenger fee. If you’re traveling with a vehicle, the vehicle fee will usually cover the passenger fee for the driver but no one else. So, if a car has two passengers, the vehicle fee may cover the driver, but the second passenger will need to pay a passenger fee.
An optional third fee is renting a private cabin. This is not mandatory.
If you’re traveling to La Paz, there is a Port Fee, which can range anywhere from $76 MN to $254 MN. The fee is dependant on the type and size of your vehicle. Motorcycles start at $76 MN, while cars start at $153 MN.
The standard passenger fare includes the passage, a standard meal, and a comfortable seat with plenty of legroom. Usually, the seats have movies playing.
Passengers can look at the Baja Ferries or websites for current rates for this month.
What to Expect
Passenger should expect a comfortable, clean passage but also be aware this isn’t a luxury experience. The meal provided is very basic, but additional food can be purchased. Most of the ferries have live entertainment and a bar may open around midnight. The Baja Ferries has much larger ships than the Santa Rosalia Ferries. If you have a larger vehicle, space could be limited on the Santa Rosalia Ferry, so try your best to book with a Baja Ferry instead. The approximate voyage times are:
- Mazatlan and La Paz: 13 hours
- Santa Rosalia and Guaymas: 10 hours
- Topolobampo (North Sinaloa, Los Mochis) to La Paz: 7 hours
These times don’t include time for loading and unloading. You need to factor in a couple of extra hours total for this part.
How to Board
Make sure you have your ticket with you as you board, as it will be checked several times. Arrive a couple of hours before your sailing time. You will go through several inspection points and be asked to show your Temporary Vehicle Import Permit (TIP).
After passing all the inspection points, the vehicles will be directed to board the ferry. The trucks will go first. Be patient and wait for the staff to instruct you to board when it’s your turn. Non-driving passengers will board the ferry directly and have their suitcases scanned.
What can you bring
Some of the items you may want to bring are:
- The ferry uses standard European plugs, so some passengers may wish to bring a North American plug adaptor
- Some passengers prefer to bring sleeping bags
- Baby wipes
- Hand Sanitizer
Note that you aren’t technically allowed to bring outside food or alcohol. However, this rule isn’t too heavily enforced, and if you pack it well, you can likely get away with it.
How it works
Once everyone is checked and boarded, the ferry will proceed sailing to its destination. Passengers should claim a seat early onto the trip before the boat gets crowded. Additionally, passengers should try to use the bathroom early on, as it will get dirtier as the hours pass.
Disembarking is quite easy. Non-driving passengers are allowed to walk off the ferry. Once the ship reaches the port, drivers will be instructed to return to their vehicles. You will drive off the ferry and have to pass a series of checkpoints by the Port Authority, Federal Police, and Military.
Always be calm, polite, and patient. Being aggressive or rude will not get you far with any staff. If you don’t speak Spanish, there is usually an employee nearby that can speak English.
Destination/Departure Ports in Baja and Mainland
You can find more details on the Baja Ferries or Santa Rosalia Ferries websites.
Ferry Services Compared
Baja Ferries are larger, more spacious, and have slightly higher reviews. However, both ferries are an affordable, safe, and fun option for travel between Baja and Mainland Mexico. Passengers can feel safe and get the help they need from employees at any time. Both ferry companies are an excellent choice for getting you across the Sea of Cortez.
Driving to Sinaloa or Baja Sur from the United States
If you’re crossing the Mexican border from the United States, make sure to check the following links before you head out.
- Mexico border crossing checklist
- Depending on what you’re driving:
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