Mexico / Baja California  / Baja Ferries
Friday, August 23, 2019
Logo von Baja Ferries
California Star bei der Überfahrt
California Star
Pichilingue, Hafen Baja California
Pichilingue harbour Baja California
Bay of Topolobampo
Baja Ferries Check-In
Baja Ferries Check-In

Time past and five million years after the sea formed, mankind had to figure out the best way to get across this vast expanse of water.

The Sea of Cortés or the Gulf of California per its official name was formed when the land mass known as Baja California tore away from mainland Mexico. At an average rate of 2 cm / 0.8 inches per year, it formed a sea 1,120 km / 700 miles long and 208 km / 130 miles across at its widest. Though shallow and warm at its Northern end, once past the mid point it deepens quickly. The deepest of the three principle basins that first formed this sea reaches an impressive depth of 4,516 m / 14,000 ft. The deeper waters are very cold and full of nutrients. These nutrients are carried upward on warmer currents towards the surface where they form the basis for one of the world’s richest oceanic ecosystems with over 800 vertebrate and 2,000 invertebrate species. But these numbers are still not complete, each census increasing the number of newly recorded species. Time past and tens of millions of years after the sea formed, mankind had to figure out the best way to get across this vast expanse of water.

When the first Spanish conquistadores reached the Pacific coast of Mexico and gazed across the sea they saw land formations off in the distance that they assumed to be a very large island. Intrigued and ever searching for greater fortune, Hernán Cortés sent two expeditions in 1532 and 1534 to investigate this mysterious island. The first never made its way past Cortés’ arch rival, Nuño Guzmán, being captured while in route. The second met with mutiny and then attack near the bay of La Paz: Pericú Indians killed a landing party from the ship as they were filling casks with water. Most of those who escaped and sailed back to the mainland were later captured by Guzmán’s men. One escapee did finally make his way back to Cortés with stories of a land where pearls were for the taking and even black pearls were abundant. A land protected by a cliffs and rocky shores like that described in the stories of the fabled land California, where Amazon women fought with golden weapons because gold was abundant and the only metal found.
In 1535, motivated and curious by these reports and legends, Cortés personally sailed from mainland Mexico into the bay of what is now La Paz with the intent to establish a colony. He named this bay Santa Cruz and set up a colony of 500 men, women and children. Within two years these colonists, battled by weather, diseases and hostile attacks, returned back to the mainland. Cortés sent one more expedition in 1539, led by Captain Francisco de Ulloa. Though the first to discover that this land was not an island but rather a peninsula, the expedition likewise was a failure and Ulloa’s ship did not return. Two years later Cortés was called back to Spain, never to return to Mexico, and Baja California was left alone until the 1580’s.

Now the Manila Galleons began to bring the riches from the orient across the Pacific and the first land sighting of Mexico on the Manila - Acapulco route was Baja near the Los Cabos region. Plagued by pirates, strong winds and the shortage of water, many of the galleons sought refuge in the bays of San Lucas and Santa Cruz (La Paz). A keen strategist, Lord Protector Cromwell – referred to more as an English pirate – took advantage of a weather phenomenon that occurs in La Paz every late summer to fall where steady winds blow inland from the sea. Cromwell attacked and plundered the Spanish Galleons trapped in the bay by these winds that are still known today as Coromuels, a corrupted pronunciation for Cromwell. In fact there was so much pirating going on along this bay that it was given the name Pichilingue, a mispronunciation of the Dutch provenance that was home for many of the pirates, Vlissingen. Not until 1596 when Admiral Sebastián Vizcaíno landed in the bay did it receive its name that we know it by today, La Paz (the peace).

Finally in 1811 a group of ranchers and fishermen formed the town of La Paz, and after a devastating hurricane to Loreto, the capital of California was moved here in 1829. Over the years the area around the bay has developed into the modern day city, which today is the capital of the Mexican state of Baja California Sur. The port of Pichilingue, on the outskirts of La Paz, has become a vital link to the mainland. Ferry service, an important part in that link, remained under Government control and ownership until 1989. Privatization opened the market to competition and the opportunity to offer better service.

Baja Ferries S.A. de C.V. was founded on December 17, 1999, and opened its operations between Pichilingue and Topolobampo with a commitment to offer good, reliable service to its customers. In the summer of 2003, Baja Ferries became the only ferry operation along this route. The service between Baja California and mainland Mexico remains essential for the people of La Paz and Baja California Sur, mostly for the cargo shipped to the peninsula but also to move people between the mainland and Baja. Almost everything that is consumed in Baja California, toothpaste, soap, household goods, light bulbs, asoline, etc. has to be imported via the Sea of Cortés.

Baja Ferries meets this need with daily ferry service, six days a week. Able to make the crossing in 6 hours at 24 knots (ca. 28 mph/45 kph), the 2001 Italian-built California Star has a seating capacity of 1,000 passengers and 2,100 lane meters of vehicles (that’s like lining up 465 cars or 122 big rig trucks). In ddition, each of the 300 cabins can accommodate up to 4 adults and comes equipped with private WC and shower. Other amenities onboard include a gift shop, cafeteria, restaurant and bar. Watch a movie on one of the many viewing monitors, dance to a favorite tune in the disco, get a bite to eat or a full- ourse meal; passenger travel between these two ports has never been so accommodating or enjoyable.

Traveling with or without your vehicle between mainland Mexico and Baja California Sur is now more than ever a fast, safe and convenient option. From motorcycles to buses or big rig trucks, the ferry can handle it. Let Baja Ferries make your adventure easy when you visit the wonders of Baja California; witness the grace and beauty of the California Gray Whales, hike the rugged mountain top forest of the Sierra de la Laguna, golf on challenging world class courses where your sand traps are the desert of Baja and the water hazard is the Sea of Cortez. Or enjoy the warmth and sun along a beach where the turquoise water fades into the blue sky.

“Where else but in Baja, Worlds apart but hours near.”