Tips and advice for making the best out of your time, while sailing in Mexico.
This article summarizes the following:
- When should you get started?
- Coasts and Islands in Mexico: Wonderful islands, where it is good to get ashore
- Ports in Mexico: Seven great places where it is worth to dock
- Sailing in Mexico: A one-week itinerary
Mexico is a huge country with a coastline well over nine thousand kilometers. Obviously, this means that the weather will be varied as you travel, so go prepared. The most popular months for sailing in Mexico are November and December. At this time, the weather is usually nice and warm in the whole country. Officially, the so-called dry season lasts until February, but practically it is warm and sunny until April. The winter period is the time of whale migration, so we can observe them at this time. In the springtime, you should visit the beaches of the Yucatan peninsula.
The rainy season in Mexico begins in the summer, and it lasts until the end of October. In this season, afternoon thunderstorms are frequent, and this kind of weather comes with high temperatures and humidity. The Tropic of Cancer divides the country for a temperate and a tropical climate part. It gets noticeably colder in the winter months north of the Tropic Cancer, while in the South the temperature is almost constant all year, and it is only the altitude above sea level that can cool down the weather. The climate is usually very hot on the coast.
The temperature of the West Coast is usually high for most of the year, but north of La Paz, it may get cooler between December and March. On both shores, the hurricane season runs from June to October. From this point of view, the Caribbean coast is particularly vulnerable.
There are countless more islands worth exploring, and an excellent coastline that awaits you as you reach the shore with your ship. For example, the small Contoy Island is a hidden gem of only 8.5 km length and 500 meters in width. The island is a habitat for four turtle species and about 152 tropical bird species. In order to keep it calm, only two hundred visitors are allowed to enter the island. Tiburón is also worth mentioning: with its 1200 km2 size, it is the largest Mexican island. It lies in the California Bay, and it is currently uninhabited, with the exception of two military camps. The area is under the jurisdiction of the local indigenous community, and a permit is required to land here.
The city’s port, called El Cid, is way more than a simple landing opportunity. There is a bustling market and several miles of nearby beaches with golden sand. The local dive shop is excellent, you can get all the necessary equipment here. In the port area, you will find plenty of high-quality accommodation opportunities.
Upon landing, we find ourselves in Paradise Village. This place can meet all your needs. Nearby Puerto Vallarta is a tourist attraction with its cosy, cobbled streets and its breathtakingly majestic cathedral.
It is the third largest city in the federal state of Baja California Sur. If arriving from the USA, here is the place where we can enter Mexican territorial waters. The weather is nice most of the year: if you can, spend a couple of days here.
Marina Riviera Nayarit is one of Mexico’s most unique ports. It lies on the north coast of the calm Banderas Bay. There is a wonderful promenade overlooking the whole bay. This is the only full-service port on the Pacific coast, with a capacity to accommodate up to 340 vessels.
In the seventies, it was nothing more than a sleepy little fishing village. The adjacent Ixtapa recreation complex was built up, and it caused a development boom in “Zihua” which nonetheless still preserves something from its old charm. Its narrow, cobbled streets are full of excellent local restaurants, bars, boutiques, and handicraft studios. Fishermen meet on the beach each morning at Paseo del Pescador, “Fishermen’s Street”, to sell the daily catch. At the waterfront promenade, you can always have a romantic walk.
Huatulco lies on the edge of the Sierra Madre Mountains in the state of Oaxaca, 20 miles from the Mexican Pacific Coast, between the Coyula and Copalita rivers. There are more than 25 berths on the 10-mile shoreline, in a beautiful natural setting surrounded by resorts.
Barra de Navidad
A small village and a wide beach around a bay which provides a great opportunity for surfing. Diving is also possible in the south-western end of the bay. Good restaurants await tourists on the beach.
Mexico has four main long-term cruise tour itineraries.
- Northern Pacific Coast (Mazatlán – Puerto Vallarta – Manzanillo),
- Southern Pacific Coast (from Zihuatanejo to Chiapas)
- The California Peninsula Coast (from San Diego to Cabo San Lucas)
- California Gulf (from La Paz to San Carlos)
In the following, you find a proposed one-week itinerary in the California Gulf. This cruise is rich in sailing experiences, and it stretches for 137 nautical miles.
Day 1: La Paz – Cabo San Lucas
Departure from La Paz, Marina Costa Baja harbour. We head north to Cabo San Lucas. It is only a few hours away, so you can enjoy the beautiful coral reefs of Lobos Bay. In the port (Caleta Lobos), do not expect to find abundant supplies, we need to provide enough food.
Day 2: Espíritu Santo Island, Partida Island
The length of this section is approximately 15 nautical miles. There are several protected bays on both islands. Espíritu Santo Island and its surroundings are a nature reserve. On the way, you can see a white sandy beach, and the area is rich in plant and animal life. Rare species are also living here. The water is abundant in fish, about 500 species live here. The environment is perfect for snorkelling and diving. The famous researcher Jacques Cousteau called Espíritu Santo the “aquarium of the world”.
Day 3: San José Island
After a 26-nautical mile cruise, you can see and hear a lot of sea lions. Nature is also special here. If we dock, we can admire the cardón cactus from close. This plant is the largest cactus in the world. It can grow up to 60 feet tall, and the oldest ones can be two hundred years old.
Day 4: San Evaristo – Puerto Los Gatos
We continue to head north. Along the shore, you can see more and more reddish cliffs and rocks. The bay has high sand dunes and white sandy beaches. Black traces of ancient lava flows are sometimes seen, lights and colors are wonderful here. Today’s 26.5 nautical miles enrich us with unforgettable experiences.
Day 5: San Francisco Island
We turn south along the coast of the California Peninsula, leaving behind the San José Island. The California Bay is not only rich in fish but also in islands. It is not surprising that we are approaching another island from the nine hundred that can be found here. At the end of the day, we will anchor here for the night after completing 22 nautical miles, because this horseshoe-shaped bay is well protected from the winds. A beautiful white sandy beach can be found here. The bay is suitable for swimming, snorkelling and collecting seashells.
Day 6: Espíritu Santo Island
We are getting back to the Espíritu Santo Island as we move south again. If you did not get off at Caleta Partido on the second day, do it now! On the west side of the island, the main harbour options are Caleta Candelero, Puerto Ballena and Bahía San Gabriel. During the night, or in case of rainy weather, it is better to dock on the “twin island”, Isla Partida.
Day 7: Puerto Balandra, then return to La Paz
At the end of our one-week trip, it is worth to stop for a while at Puerto Balandra. It is a beautiful, uninhabited coastal area. So why is it interesting? There are no less than eight sandy beaches here. There is also a saltwater inner lagoon and a strange cliff which is called “El Hongo” (“The Mushroom”) by the locals. This is a symbol of La Paz.
If you cannot sail for a whole week but still want to get to beautiful and interesting places by boat, we give you some good advice and recommendations.
If you find this itinerary interesting, don’t hesitate. Now you can rent a boat at reasonable prices and with flexible conditions!