Baja Ferries is a company operating ships on regular schedules between the port towns of Topolobampo and Mazatlan on the Mexico mainland and La Paz on the Baja Peninsula. Topolobampo is the connecting point for the Chihuahua Pacific Railway, which passes through the beautiful Copper Canyon in the interior. The entire journey on the railroad takes 16 hours, and it is possible to book vacation packages that include the scenic train ride and continue on by ferry for a visit to La Paz. Mazatlan is a popular tourist destination on Mexico’s western coast, and many visitors will take the ferry to Baja California for a couple overnights in La Paz.
Ferry Basic Seating
Ferry Meal Room
Ferry Private Room Bath
Baja Ferry Shared Room
Baja Ferry View
Depending on the route and day of the week, a one-way journey on the ferry to Baja California from the mainland takes either six or twelve hours. Departures are either late afternoon or early evening, arriving late at night – or departing late at night and arriving early in the morning. There are departures every day of the week. Baja Ferries operates four ships: the Chihuahua Star, California Star, Mazatlan Star (pictured), and Sonora Star. The Sonora Star is strictly a cargo vessel, carrying virtually all supplies needed by the inhabitants of the Baja Peninsula. The peninsula is almost completely isolated from the Mexican mainland, with land travel only possible through a narrow corridor that begins at the towns of Tijuana and Ensenada. The Chihuahua Star and California Star passenger vessels can accommodate 60 and 100 cars, and 1,148 and 851 passengers. The Mazatlan Star is the smallest vessel, and carries only 111 passengers. This is formerly a French vessel (the Monte Cinto) and still has mostly European electrical outlets.
The ferry to Baja California offers three different modes of travel. The least expensive is group seating in airline type reclining chairs. Mid-range passage is in private bunk rooms sleeping three or four and sharing showers. There are also private staterooms with twin beds – basic, but modern and comfortable, with small private bathroom with shower. Services onboard include a coffee shop, sometimes with live music, restaurant, and bar service. The food is fairly basic rice, beans, tortillas, and simple desserts. The Chihuahua Star has a pet area with 16 cages. You can have a pet travel in your car at your own risk. The crossing offers some good scenery entering and leaving La Paz, Mazatlan, and Topolobampo. Otherwise, the crossing is open water. You will see plenty of seabirds like pelican, gulls, petrels, and terns. If lucky, you may see whales or dolphins.
Children under three years of age travel free on Baja ferries and children under 16 (must be accompanied by an adult) travel at a reduced fare. It is not necessary to book your passage far in advance, unless having a private cabin is very important to you. Usually, you can show up at the ticket office in any of the three ports a couple hours before departure and purchase your ticket. Roundtrip fares can be as high as $500 for two people in a private cabin. There are extra fees for vehicle. Do also note, that fares can change without notice. Many visitors to the Baja Peninsula enter by car from California. To bring a car into Mexico requires a deposit, which you only receive back when you finally leave the country. If you take your car into Baja, onto the ferry, and then drive through the country exiting at a different point (i.e. Nogales into Arizona or Cuidad Juarez into Texas), you must remember to request your deposit back when you leave the country.