I have included my trip across the Gulf of California from La Paz to Mazatlan onboard the Baja Ferry Service to Puerto Vallarta. As this is kind of like a border crossing, I will give as much information as I can. If you have no done some research, there are quite a few horror stories relating to the Baja Ferries service. I, however, had a pretty fantastic experience. A few days earlier I dropped into the ferry terminal and spoke with some immigration officials, and they told me just to make sure I have all documentation in order and return there a few hours before departure. Right next to the terminal is where you can get your temporary vehicle import permit (sticker) for your motorbike. You may have already got this when you entered Mexico through the border. You will also need your tourist card, originals, and copies of your passport, registration, title, drivers license, and insurance which you can get from Sanborns to get your permit.
Right next to the terminal is where you can get your import sticker (permit) for your motorbike. You may have already when you entered Mexico through the border. You will also need your tourist card, originals, and copies of your passport, registration, title and drivers license to get the permit. Once you have documents, you just go to a room next door and make a copy (20 cents). Once you have documents, you just go to a room next door and make a copy (20 cents) and then return to the desk for final paperwork and permit. The sticker you get should be attached to your bike, but the immigration officials did not care. The thing you have to remember is depending on the size and year of your bike you have to pay a $400 USD refundable deposit, which you get when you exit Mexico
With everything in order, you are ready to go. When you arrive at the Ferry Terminal on the day of your ride, you just go to the first immigration stop, show the paperwork, then they direct you to get bike weighed, and from there you just ride your motorcycle onto the boat. The only issue I had was getting all my gear up the stairs and into my room, I had a lot, and there is no one to help. Then once you have your gear, you go to the desk, get your room – pay the $20USD deposit for keys and remote control and settle in. Of course, if you don’t have a room and are roughing it, you don’t need that final step.
I got a room with a balcony, and the ferry from La Paz to Mazatlan was only about 20% capacity. I also got a free meal with my ticket, which was basic, but ok and then I settled down for a few beers and chatted for a while with a couple from the UK traveling south in their 4WD and another adventure rider and then went to my room to get some sleep!
The ferry ride to Mazatlan was smooth, and I woke early to find hundreds of dolphins riding alongside the ship, birds following them and diving to get the fish that were jumping out of the water, it was quite a spectacle to wake up to. We arrived on time around 10 am in the morning, and it was a beautiful day in Mazatlan.
I only stayed one night in Mazatlan and made my way south to Puerto Vallarta where I decided to stay a few nights at a nice hotel on the cliffs and by the water! The only problem was it seemed that the hotel was not only a party place but also a hotel that targetted the gay community, so that was pretty funny. Puerto Vallarta is a beautiful place, very touristy, but nice nonetheless, the beaches are cool too, and there are lots of water activities to be had. I used my time to relax and do some planning for some long rides ahead!