A fun ferry ride on the Sea of Cortez: Mazatlan to La Paz

Baja Sur is a tourism hot spot in Mexico, and we decided to check it out before returning to the U.S. for the holidays. To get there from Mazatlan, we took an overnight ferry ride that was a pretty interesting experience.

It’s a cargo ferry that carries large containers, trucks, cars, and passengers. The dock is right next to where the small panga boats take tourists over to Stone Island. You can’t miss the ships that run back and forth just about every day.

Baja Star ferry to La Paz

All cabin passengers take luggage into their room. It’s a long walk, so if you are used to checking your bags, know you’ll have to lug your stuff all the way to the registration window, around parked trucks stored for the ride. We used an elevator to get up, but when we left the next day, we could only use stairs with all our bags.

After you sign in at the cabin level, a porter will then help you the rest of the way to your room with your bags. There are no porters to help with bags on check out. (We are about to travel with next-to-nothing, but that’s another story for another day.)

Our room was much more roomy than I imagined. But then again, we had the “deluxe interior” because the basic cabins were sold out by the time we bought tickets about a week before our trip. The exterior deluxe rooms appear to be the same as ours but with windows, and the superior rooms are even larger than the deluxe rooms. For our purposes, our room was fine, but smaller would have been acceptable as well because all we did was sleep there.

There are a limited number of cabins for passengers. Many Mexicans buy a seat in a large room with movie-theater-style chairs for dozing overnight. Public bathrooms are just off the room in the hallway. The seating room also has TVs for these guests – our cabin didn’t have one.

Overnight seats on ferry

Passengers in chairs instead of cabins must check their bags before they board. The prices for the chairs are dramatically cheaper than the cabins (sorry, I don’t remember how much cheaper – but the company’s website is linked below).

Once we checked out the room, we watched the sunset from the back deck. We went right before the winter solstice, so the sun set before the ferry left the dock.

Passengers are only allowed at the back of the ship. I started sneezing almost immediately and the only thing I can think of what caused it was the exhaust. No matter – it was still a fun experience to be outside on this trip.

After sunset we went dinner, which is served almost immediately upon arrival, and is included in the price of the trip. There were no vegetarian options, so I simply had rice and beans. Everyone gets those side items. The main dish is some kind of meat stew that Tedly said was tasty enough. After dinner, there were a few singers and a comedian to keep people entertained. My preference was to watch the night sky – because away from city lights the stars were stark and gorgeous. I brought some tissues.

We slept pretty good in the cabin. The beds were surprisingly comfy and the cabin was quiet. I was lucky to wake up a few minutes before sunrise because I forgot to set my alarm. The sunrise was beautiful – try not to miss it.

Coffee and small pastries also are included. The coffee was a little rough, but it was better than nothing. The night before, I bought a coffee in a cafe separate from the cafeteria that was pretty good. It was the only way I was going to stay up to see the stars – I don’t normally drink coffee after noon.

We checked out and left the boat as semi trucks and cars were driving off. Then we boarded the only public bus that runs to downtown La Paz. The bus is parked just a short walk from the dock. There also are more expensive taxi options.

Me and Tedly on bus at ferry dock

Our tickets cost $183 USD for two people. Since our flight back to the U.S. was from Cabo San Lucas, we figured we’d take the ferry across the Sea of Cortez because we also wanted to see La Paz. Looking back, it was expensive for budget travel, and we should have bought the tickets earlier so that we could have had the cheaper cabin. But even that wasn’t that much cheaper, only $20 or so. And flights from Mazatlan to La Paz or Cabo would have been about the same for two people. Besides, this was only time I’ve slept on a ferry boat overnight and it was downright fun! I would do it again.

Tedly and me on La Paz ferry

The Baja Ferries website is in Spanish. It’s here. You can buy tickets online, or in person if your Spanish is not that great. Someone in the office usually knows some English.








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