How to Get the Baja Ferry from La Paz to Mazatlan with a Motorcycle

If you’re planning on getting from Baja California to mainland Mexico with your motorcycle, this guide explains everything you need to know on how to catch the ferry from La Paz to Mazatlan…

How to catch the Baja Ferry from La Paz to Mazatlan Mexico with a motorcycle

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How to Get the Baja Mexico Ferry from La Paz to Mazatlan with a Motorcycle

If you’re planning on crossing from Baja California to mainland Mexico, this guide explains everything you need to know about getting the ferry from La Paz to Mazatlan for motorcycle riders and travellers.

Ferry and route options

From La Paz in Baja California there are two ferry options: Baja Ferries and TMC.

Baja Ferries is the more commonly used ferry service for motorcycle travellers and people with their own vehicles while TMC is more frequently used as a cargo ferry.

This guide focuses on Baja Ferries as that’s the service we used because we were strapped for time and wanted to make a reservation in advance.

We recommend checking both services online to find the cheapest price.

Where the ferry goes from and to

The ferry doesn’t actually leave from La Paz, but from Pichilingue, a 20 minute ride north. From there you can either sail to Mazatlan or Topolobambo.

Mazatlan is the more popular destination as most travellers are heading south into the mainland while Topolobambo is hours north – but a cheaper and quicker crossing.

We are travelling on 300cc motorcycles and didn’t fancy the long highway ride just to get south so booked to Mazatlan.

Booking the ferry in advance

For Baja Ferries, you can either phone, book online, via WhatsApp or just turn up on the day.

As soon as we crossed the border into Baja Mexico, we booked our tickets as we knew we wanted to be on the mainland in two weeks and as it was the Easter Weekend and very busy everywhere – needed to make sure we had a reservation.

We used the website to find sailing times and prices and then contacted Baja Ferries via Whatsapp. They were very responsive and quick to arrange everything.

Once you confirm you want the sailing dates and times provided, they send you a PDF invoice via WhatsApp which you can then pay online using your debit or credit card. Easy.

Once payment has been received they send you another PDF to confirm payment with your booking information and a QR code – important!

How much is the La Paz to Mazatlan ferry?

Unfortunately for us, we entered Baja at the very busy time of Easter Break and the 2024 solar eclipse. So prices went through the roof and we had to pay a whopping 5,000 pesos for one person and one motorcycle. So 10,000 total for two people and two bikes. Prices change frequently, so don’t be put off by this and check the website for current prices.

Paperwork and the Temporary Import Permit

Baja California is a ‘Mexico Free Zone’ meaning you do not require a Temporary Import Permit for your motorcycle. However, mainland Mexico is not and you do require a TIP to ride there. You will not be allowed to board the ferry unless you have a valid TIP.

When crossing into Mexico, you can get your TIP at the Banjercito office located at the border. TIPs are only valid for as long as your FMM tourist card is valid (180 days), so you may as well get it at the border when you enter. If you forget to or have a change of heart while in Baja, you can get a TIP at the Banjercito located at the port by Baja Ferries.

Use iOverlander to find its location.

Check out our paperwork guide for Mexico and border crossing guide for more info on the TIP.

And please note that you do need Mexican motorcycle insurance to ride anywhere in Mexico – including Baja. We recommend Baja Bound as we’ve had a great experience with them. More on insurance in the below guide. 

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Baja Ferry port procedure

You need to arrive at the port 3 hours before departure. We booked onto a 7pm ferry, which meant arriving at 4pm.

When you arrive at the port, the first step is to go through customs. A customs official will need to see your passport and Temporary Import Permit (TIP). They may also check through some of your bags and ask if you have any narcotics or alcohol which are prohibited.

Once your TIP has been checked, you continue to the next building. Here you will need to pay a port tax of around 100-200 pesos per person. Then you will be given a slip with your registration details on it. Once you have the slip you must visit the Baja Ferries office.

In here you need to show them your QR code from your email which they will scan and your passport. Only then will you actually be given your physical tickets.

Once you have your tickets, head to the ferry for boarding and you will be directed onto the boat and told where to park.

Securing your motorcycle on the ferry

Importantly, you must take your own straps to secure your motorcycle on the ferry. This was a surprise to us, considering the cost of the ferry and the fact that we’ve always been supplied with straps on ferries throughout the world.

Anyway, you can easily buy straps in La Paz from an AutoZone or any hardware shop. Expect to pay around 250 pesos for two straps.

Note, we always carry one lightweight ratchet strap in case we need it for towing or if something breaks. So we needed three more as we only use two per bike for strapping. We bought two decent ones for 250 and found a cheap one for 80. When we used the cheap one it snapped. The ferry staff on the boat were very friendly but did not have any solutions or any spare straps or rope. They did seem very concerned that we only had the one strap as they said it was going to be rocky. Luckily, a fellow motorcyclist had a spare and saved the day. So, make sure you have decent straps and possibly even a third!

Note, you are not allowed to return to your motorcycle once you leave it, so make sure you take everything you need.

La Paz to Mazatlan Ferry from Baja to Mexico mainland motorcycles

Getting a cabin

On Mexico motorcycle Facebook groups, iOverlander, friends and everyone we spoke to, they say you should definitely get a cabin because otherwise you’ll be stuffed in a room with everyone else where the TV will be on super loud throughout the night and everyone will be drinking and partying and you won’t sleep.

So we tried to book a cabin, but they were booked out. The next available cabin would have been 6 weeks away and we wanted to sail in 2 weeks.

On the ferry

Your ticket will have a dedicated communal room and seat number. The fact there is allocated seating is brilliant as it means people don’t run in and put their jackets on every seat leaving you with nowhere to go.

Find your seat number in your room and set up camp. The seats are reasonably comfortable and recline a little.

On our boat there were three rooms, each loudly playing movies in Spanish.

There is also a restaurant, a bar and a shop where you can buy snacks and food. All reasonably priced, but we always recommend taking your own snacks.

As soon as you get upstairs head straight to the restaurant and ask what time dinner is served and make sure you’re there at the front 5 minutes before because the queue gets long.

Using your ticket, you get a free dinner and drink! And it was surprisingly good. There is breakfast again in the morning but this is not free.

Is it as bad as everyone says?

No! It was a great crossing! The TV was loud but got switched off at 11pm, and I went and switched off the lights which everyone seemed very happy about. Everyone in our room was very respectful and quiet.

We believe the partying was left to the restaurant, but that died down early too.

On the booking form it states you’re not allowed to take blankets or mats on the ferry, but we took sleeping bags and our blow up air mats.

We used all of it and had a comfortable sleep. Most of the people in our room also laid on the floor, but used blankets that were handed out.

Seasickness

I suffer very badly with seasickness. But this crossing wasn’t bad. I had heard it was bad and people suffered so I took Dramamine which we bought in La Paz, the boat certainly rocked and was worse in the middle of the night, but manageable. Make sure you get medication and take it regardless if you suffer.

Read more on motorcycle travel in Mexico

Thanks for checking out the How to Cross the Border from the USA to Mexico with a Motorcycle Guide. We hope you enjoyed it! Here’s a few more articles on motorcycle travel in Mexico and North America that we recommend you read next. 

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Are you planning on getting from Baja to mainland Mexico by catching the ferry from La Paz to Mazatlan with your motorcycle? Do you have any questions, tips or suggestions? Let us know in the comments below. 

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