Mexico Maps

This page is a collection of Mexico Maps showing the cruising grounds, anchorages and ports the Pacific Coast of Mexico, useful for cruising Mexico in a sailboat. Map of the most popular anchorages on the Pacific Coast of the Baja Peninsula (Pacific Baja Anchorages).

Pacific Baja

Highway to Mexico's cruising grounds

Map of the most popular anchorages and ports on the North Pacific Coast of Mexico.

North Pacific mainland coast.

The bridge between the Sea of Cortez and the southern Pacific coast.

Map of the most popular Banderas Bay anchorages and ports (Puerto Vallarta, Mexico area).

Banderas Bay

Map of the most popular Gold Coast anchorages in Mexico (also known as the Costa Alegre or Costalegre or Mexican Riviera).

"Costa Alegre" - the "Cheerful Coast" - Chamela to Manzanillo.

The northern part of a popular Mexico cruising ground.

Map of the most popular anchorages  on Mexico's Southern Pacific Coast (the Costa Grande / Zihuatanejo / Ixtapa area).

Costa Grande - the "Big Coast" - Manzanillo to Zihuatanejo.

The southern part of the premier cruising grounds on Mexico's Pacific coast.

Map of the most popular Sea of Cortez anchorages.

Sea of Cortez.

Called "the world's aquarium" by Jacques Cousteau.

Map of the best Southern Sea of Cortez anchorages and ports.

Southern Sea of Cortez.

Map of the most popular La Paz anchorages  (Sea of Cortez Mexico).

La Paz Anchorages, Sea of Cortez.

Map of the best anchorages to the south of Loreto (Sea of Cortez Mexico).

Loreto - South Anchorage, Sea of Cortez.

Map of the best anchorages to the north of Loreto (Sea of Cortez Mexico).

Loreto - North Anchorages, Sea of Cortez.

Map of the Conception Bay anchorages (Bahia Concepcion) in the Sea of Cortez.

Bahía Concepcion, Sea of Cortez.

Map of key tourist destinations in southern Mexico (states of Chiapas and Oaxaca) and in northern Central America.

S. Mexico / Guatemala / El Salvador / Belize

Maps of Mexico for Cruisers: Pacific Coast & Sea of Cortez Anchorages

This page contains detailed maps of the west coast (Pacific coast) of Mexico, including the most popular cruising anchorages

and destinationa.  If you are planning a cruise to Mexico on your own boat, be sure to check out Mexico Cruising Tips (1) and

Mexico Cruising Tips (2) too.

Coastal Mexico can be thought of as having four different primary cruising regions.  As we traveled along the coast we

encountered them in this order (links go to our pics and stories):

● The Pacific coast of the Baja peninsula that runs down the western side of Baja from Ensenada to Cabo San Lucas.

● The northern Pacific mainland coast between Mazatlan and Manzanillo, including the Costa Alegre (or "Gold Coast")

which extends along the Pacific mainland's southern coast below Puerto Vallarta

● The Southern Pacific mainland coast which runs from Zihuatanejo/Ixtapa to the Guatemala border.

● The Sea of Cortez where the majority of the beauty lies along the eastern shore of the Baja peninsula.

PACIFIC COAST OF BAJA

For cruisers, the 750 miles long Pacific side of the Baja coast is like a

highway to the prime Mexican cruising grounds.  It is predominantly a

downwind passage, as the prevailing winds come out of the northwest.

However, these are not consistent winds, and we found ourselves on all

points of sail and frequently motoring because the wind was too light to

sail.  The current and swell also move down the coast, so we were

swept along whether under power or sail.  The trip back up this highway

is called the "Baja Bash" because it is against the winds and currents

and folks usually make the journey in the spring when the winds are

strongest, resulting in a very uncomfortable trip.

NORTH PACIFIC COAST

Mazatlan - Manzanillo

Mexico's best cruising grounds lie in the Sea of

Cortez to the north and along the Pacific mainland

south of Puerto Vallarta.  Most of the northern

portion of Mexico's Pacific coast is like a bridge

between these two areas, bounded by a triangle

between the major cities of La Paz, Mazatlan and

Puerto Vallarta, each home to good marinas.  The

scenery, layout and quality of the anchorages

relegate this region (in my mind) to being less of a

cruising destination and more of a cruising transit

zone to get between the Sea of Cortez and the

southern Pacific coast cruising grounds, or a "live-

aboard" zone where many cruisers spend months

at one marina or another rather than cruising

between anchorages.  Unlike the Sea of Cortez

and the southern mainland Pacific coast, the

distances between the more charming anchorages

of this region are quite long, often requiring an overnight trip.

Most Sea of Cortez crossings take place in this region.  The shortest distance is 165 miles between Los Frailes on the eastern

tip of Baja and Mazatlan.  The longest passage is 330 miles between Cabo San Lucas and Chamela Bay on the mainland.  The

seas in this region can be confused, steep and choppy, as it is the meeting place for the Pacific Ocean (sweeping around Cabo

and up from the southwest) and the Sea of Cortez (rushing down from the northwest).  This is particularly true when you travel

the line between Cabo and Chamela, as we found out during 55 hours of being tossed about.  In addition, there is a strong

"cape effect" of powerful winds and seas off the cape that juts out between Puerto Vallarta and Chamela, called "Cabo

Corrientes."  Passage around this point is best done overnight or in the early morning and at least 5 miles offshore.

Banderas Bay / Puerto Vallarta

Puerto Vallarta is at the eastern end of the 60 mile coastline

of Banderas Bay that cuts into the mainland here.  Four major

marinas dot this bay and there are a few anchorages on the

bay's north and south coasts.  Further north, Mazatlan also

hosts several marinas and some anchorages nearby.

Costalegre / Gold Coast

An attractive cruising ground on the mainland Pacific coast of

Mexico starts in Chamela and continues southeast to Manzanillo. This

area is known to cruisers (especially readers of Pat Rains' Mexico

Boating Guide) as the "Gold Coast."  The Costa Alegre includes about

ten anchorages in the fifty mile stretch between Chamela Bay and

Manzanillo Bay.  Some anchorages are along beaches that have

little development.  Some are on or near busy little tourist towns

full of boutique shops and restaurants.  Some front posh resorts,

a few of which welcome cruisers.

In the wintertime the water can hover as low as the low 70's and

the air in the low 80's.  Water clarity varies from year to year, with

some years having enough visibility to snorkel and others being

so murky with red tide that you can't swim or make water in the

anchorages.  Many anchorages are near fresh water estuaries

that empty into the ocean, further muddying the water.  However,

the exuberance and warmth of the local people and the wide

variety of sights to see make for a wonderful stay in this area.

* * * HUATULCO IS THE BEST CRUISING GROUND * * *

* * * IN ALL OF MEXICO!!!!. (Maps coming...). * * *

SOUTH PACIFIC COAST - Costa Grande & Costa Sur

The Costa Grande runs south of Manzanillo with the major stops being at Zihuatanejo and its little vacation paradise island, Isla

Ixtapa (labeled "Isla Grande" on some nautical charts).  The 200 mile distance between the wonderful anchorages in Manzanillo

Bay and Zihuatanejo Bay is broken up with three anchorages that most sailors skip because they are so rolly that sleep is nearly

impossible.  Their logic: if you aren't going to sleep at anchor, you might as well be making miles on your way to your

destination.  Although there are really only a few locations to drop the hook, the town of Zihuatanejo and its sophisticated big

sister city of Ixtapa offer enough to keep cruisers busy for weeks.  Winter water temps hover in the mid- to high-70's and the air

in the mid-80's.

The Pacific Ocean crashes into the Pacific coast of Mexico (both Baja and the mainland) after traveling thousands of miles,

rendering all Pacific coast anchorages in Mexico (except Barra de Navidad) somewhere between "rather rolly" and "very rolly."

Ordinary walking and moving about the boat becomes a crazy duck wobble.  The prevailing winds blow from the northwest,

parallel to the Pacific coast, and most anchorages are wide open bays with wonderful surf-filled beaches.  In each one, a small

point juts out into the Pacific at the northwest end of the bay or beach.  Tucking in behind this point gives some wind protection,

but the swell usually sneaks in, hitting the boat on the beam.  Setting a stern anchor so the boat faces the swell can help, but the

easiest way to avoid the rolly anchorages is to stay in marinas.  Many cruisers spend much of their winter cruising season

sampling the lovely Pacific coast marinas.

SEA OF CORTEZ

In this modern era of cruising, an easy way to find the finest

"vacation quality" cruising grounds worldwide is to see where

the Moorings has their charter boat bases.  The Moorings

base in La Paz is at Costa Baja Resort Marina, officially

granting this cruising area the status of "excellent."  The Sea

of Cortez offers clear turquoise water, abundant wildlife,

exotic desert scenery, and remote anchorages, but it is a

seasonal destination.

The Sea is most popular in

October/November and April-

June, when air temps are in the

80's to low 90's and water temps

are in the low-70's (spring) to

low-80's (fall).  Winter is cold:

overnight low temps dip into the

high-40's and low-50's and water

temps fall to the mid-60's.

Summer is hot: air temps rise to

the low-100's and water temps

can reach the low-90's.  It is

because of these extreme hots and colds of

summer and winter that most cruisers visit

the Sea of Cortez in the spring and fall.  The

favored cruising area is from La Paz north to

Santa Rosalia.

Although the Sea of Cortez is very beautiful

in a rugged and wild kind of way, it is also

subject to severe weather.  The saying goes

that for two days of paradise you pay with

one day of hell.  The hellish conditions are

brought on by sudden winds and steep

waves that can overpower an anchorage,

either pushing the boat

towards a terrifying "lee

shore" or subjecting it to a

violent beam sea.

The La Paz area offers a lot

of beautiful anchorages within

a 1-4 hour sail of the city.

Most of these are open to the

west and southwest which makes them very vulnerable to the nighttime 25-knot

southwest Coromuel winds and steep waves that blow from dusk til noon in the spring

and summer.  They are also subject to Westerlies that blow in during the night like

Coromuels.  Light Westerlies combined with a north swell puts the swell on the beam,

creating a rolly night.  Many anchorages are also subject to swell during Northers, as

the swell wraps into the anchorages from the west while the boat is held facing north,

making it hit the boat on the beam.

Northers are 3-day 25-35 knot winds that

occur between November and April.  In La

Paz harbor a chop develops and boats do

the "La Paz Waltz" where they tend to

swing in different directions and

sometimes bump each other due to their

different responses to wind and current as the tide sweeps in and out of the long

channel.  The best protection in a Norther is Bahia Falsa, as the swell tends not to

wrap into the anchorage.

The Loreto area is many cruisers' favorite part of the Sea of Cortez.  The sailing

within the bay between Loreto and Isla Carmen can be truly delightful with good wind

and flat seas.  The anchorages are scenic and they are close enough together and

varied enough in orientation that if the conditions are bad in one anchorage they are

bound to be better in another.  In addition, it is easy to anchor off Loreto in light

conditions, walk into town, and do extensive provisioning for the boat.

Bahía Concepción is a very large enclosed bay that offers pretty and lightly

populated anchorages and flat seas.  The ex-pat community is enormous.  All of the

beach bungalows on El Burro Cove and Playa Coyote are owned by non-Mexicans.

It is still a remote area, however, where land dwellers get their electrciity from solar

power and wifi internet is hard to find.  The bay can be very hot in the summer, as

there is much less breeze within the bay than in other anchorages elsewhere that

are open to the Sea of Cortez.

INLAND:  S. MEXICO and N. CENTRAL AMERICA

For cruisers, southern Pacific Mexico is defined by the Gulf of Tehuantepec, a 200 mile wide bay between Huatulco (Marina

Chahué) and Puerto Chiapas (Marina Chiapas).  Both marinas are ideal places to leave the boat to explore inland.

From Huatulco, the colonial city of Oaxaca and the Zapotec ruins of Monte Alban and Mitla are an 8 hour bus ride away.

From Puerto Chiapas, the colonial city of San Cristóbal de las Casas is a 9 hour bus ride away.  From San Cristóbal, Mexico's

crown jewel of Mayan ruins, Palenque, is a 5 hour bus ride away (don't miss Yaxchilan and the Agua Azul waterfalls when you

are there!).

From Puerto Chiapas a tour of Guatemala

can also be undertaken, starting with an 8

hour bus ride to Guatemala City followed by

a 45 minute taxi ride to the colonial city of

Antigua, Guatemala.

All of these travels go through extremely

mountainous terrain which is why the bus

trips take so long.  The distances are not

that far.  For instance, it is just 200 miles

from Puerto Chiapas to San Cristóbal, but

the roads are tiny, full of hairpin turns and

speed bumps.  Lots little towns crowd the

mountain roads at frequent intervals, most

buses make a lot of stops, and there are

many military checkpoints.

The colonial cities are in the mountains and

the temperature quickly drops from hot,

tropical coastal climes to cool days and

chilly nights in the mountains.  The Mayan

region of Palenque and Yaxchilan is in the

jungle where it is very hot and humid.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you enjoyed this page, you may also like the following pages:

More Tips for Cruising Mexico         Outfitting for Cruising

 

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