Yachting in Mexico: A captain and crew guide
Last updated: 03/08/2016
With the east and west coasts offering numerous cruising attractions for yachts and superyachts, Mexico is fast becoming a popular yachting destination. But what’s it like? How does the facilities and destinations compare with the Mediterranean or the Caribbean? Yachting Pages spoke to Eco Naviera, a leading yacht agency and support company in Mexico to create a comprehensive guide for captains and crew on navigating Mexico.
Yachting in Mexico
With over 10,000km of coastline, there are two popular cruising grounds for yachts in Mexico. One is the Yucatan peninsula on the east coast in the Gulf of Mexico and the other is the west coast in the Gulf of California (Sea of Cortez) in Baja California.
When do superyachts visit?
Most superyachts visit Mexico between November and April when the weather is hot and it rarely rains. There are less yachts visiting during the rainy season (May to October) because of the hurricanes. On both coasts the hurricane season runs from June to October.
Mexico's West coast
With a coastline of roughly 4,000km, the Gulf of California to the west receives, according to Eco Naviera, at least 20 to 30 superyachts each year and has always been a preferred destination for yachts coming from California and the west coast of the USA.
The Baja Peninsula is a particularly popular cruising destination, where common yachting locations consist of: Cabo San Lucas, La Paz and Loreto. Further down from the Baja Peninsula are hotspots which include Puerto Vallarta, Manzanillo and Huatulco.
Less than 400 miles off Mexico's western coast lie the four ‘Islas de Revillagigedo’, which are rarely visited from the mainland except by yachts on passage to the Marquesas, which are a group of islands right in the middle of the South Pacific Ocean.
The Gulf of California
The Gulf of California, also known as the Sea of Cortez, has an almost legendary status among divers and marine naturalists. It features over 900 species of fish and 32 types of marine mammals, offering spectacular diving opportunities. Numerous excursions are therefore available such as diving, snorkelling, paddle boarding, sports fishing, grey whale watching, whale shark tours and more.
As well as the pristine beaches and an attractive climate, nearby there are picturesque hiking opportunities and a number of historic towns and old mining villages.
West coast marinas
In the Baja Peninsula, popular superyacht marinas include Marina Costa Baja which is located in La Paz, Marina Fonatur in Loreto, as well as IGY Marina Cabo San Lucas which is on the southern tip on the peninsula. All these marinas offer a good range of facilities that modern superyachts and their crew expect.
Marina CostaBaja, for example, can host superyachts up to 67m and offers a crew lounge, laundry services, a supply store and the chance for crew and guests to arrange fishing, snorkelling, diving, kayaking, hiking, whale watching and other activities.
South of the Baja Peninsula, both Marina Riviera Nayarit and Paradise Village Marina & Yacht Club also offer superyachts a range of berths and facilities as well as Marina Vallarta, which is set among a vibrant town known for its beaches, nightlife and water sports.
Mexico's East coast
A common destination for yachts heading south from Florida is the Yucatan Peninsula on the east coast. This peninsula separates the Gulf of Mexico from the Caribbean Sea and encompasses three Mexican states and parts of Belize and Guatemala. It is also located relatively close to popular Caribbean destinations such as the Bahamas, Cayman Islands, Jamaica and Cuba.
One of the most popular areas is the coastline between Cancun and Tulum, which includes the island of Cozumel among other hotspots.
Cancun is known for its luxury, high-rise hotels, numerous resorts and bustling nightlife. Tulum offers a quieter experience and features a spectacular coastline with jaded-green seas, set amongst old Maya ruins.
Cozumel offers something a bit more ‘unique’ for cruising, as it is a relatively undeveloped Mexican island famed for its scuba diving and authentic, secluded atmosphere.
East coast marinas
Though the west coast may offer a wider range of marinas in Mexico, the east coast also has some good marinas for superyachts.
Located near large coral reefs and surrounded by the Mayan Ruins, La Amada marina has 176 berths and can take superyachts of up to 55m, offering a good location choice for yachts who wish to explore the Caribbean.
Puerto Aventuras, which is south of Cancun and opposite Cozumel, can host yachts up to 150ft (45m), and is set among luxury residential areas, a variety of shops and numerous restaurants.
Marina El Cid in Cancun can only take yachts up to 36m, though there are plenty of opportunities to safely drop anchor with a number of services/facilities nearby, as well as a range of attractions.
Mexico marina rates
The standard daily rate throughout Mexico is roughly 2.50 to 3.50 dollars per foot, which does not include water or electricity.
The security is supposed to be very good for visiting yachts; Eco Naviera reported that they have not heard of any criminal reports in any marinas, especially in the Baja Peninsula. All superyacht marinas will have 24/7 security and CCTV – a standard which is now widely expected in marinas worldwide.
Fuel is usually readily available in most marinas throughout the Mexican coast. Agents are also competent at arranging fuel should you require any special fuelling needs. Fuel is roughly three to four dollars per gallon, depending on the amount of fuel which is required.
There have been reports in the past that fuel can be dirty in Mexico, however there has been no recent trouble reported with taking fuel on board. Filters and additives are becoming more and more common on today’s superyachts so it may be worth ensuring you have enough equipment to maintain your fuel and tank just to be safe.
With Mexico having a population of over 122 million and a large coastline, there are many dedicated superyacht services companies, as well as marinas and shipyards; some of which are relatively new or have been upgraded.
For yachts that require any refit or repair work, there is a boatyard in Ensenada Baja California that is becoming popular. There is also another large shipyard in Mazatlán on the east coast, which can handle most superyacht maintenance work. Any major ports or marinas now have some kind of repair facilities.
Agents and provisioners can easily supply 90% of whatever the chef on board may require, as quick as anyone. For any other requests that may be slightly more unusual, Eco Naviera state that they can bring it from the USA (to the Baja Peninsula), due to their good connections with the San Diego/California areas in the USA.
On the east coast, similarly to the west, any supplies which cannot be sourced from Mexico can be obtained from the nearby Caribbean islands or Florida.
Visas and registration
Formalities for entry are simple, requiring the standard set of documents. The only issue here is that all crew members should have a USA visa. This will mean they can skip any complicated paperwork, and avoid any long processes to obtain a visa that sometimes could have been organised in advance (up to a month) before their arrival in Mexico.