Boating and Sailing Near Yucatan Peninsula

Visitors who enjoy sailing and yachting can dock in several spots around the Mexican Caribbean

Photo credit: © Catlin Wolfard
 

Although it is far from the most popular way to reach the Mexican Caribbean, chartered and personal boats can certainly be sailed into any number of harbors around Mexico. While many sailors have their own boats, sailing to Mexico is possible even for those who don't.

Boat Trips and Day Sailing

Maps

A quick day sail can be a great way to see parts of the Yucatan many never do. Out on the ocean, you will have unobstructed views of the Mexican coast, plenty of room to bathe in the sun, and numerous opportunities for swimming, snorkeling, and diving.

Vacationers hosting an event in the Mexican Caribbean also have the option of renting a party boat. Weddings, anniversaries, birthdays, and product launches are the most common type of party boat celebration. Party boats range in size, but can typically accommodate between 30 and 300 people.

If you are just wanting to enjoy a few hours on the open water, without the stress and cost of sailing on your own you can join an excursion. Check out the table below to obtain names and phone numbers for excursion providers.

Boat Excursions
Name Phone Location
Albatros Charters (984) 872-7904 San Miguel Cozumel
Bleu Magic/Raiatea Catamaran (984) 803-4774 The vicinity of La Gloria Mexico
Blue Mystic Tour -- The vicinity of La Gloria Mexico
Blue Tang Tours (507) 519-6000 Blue Tang Inn - San Pedro Ambergris Caye
Captain Ron's Cozumel Boat Charters (987) 872-5467 Downtown San Miguel Cozumel
Cari'Bean Tours (501) 601-8586 Coconut Drive - San Pedro Ambergris Caye
Contoy Express Tour -- 2.0 mi. (3.2 km) Northwest of Isla Mujeres Isla Mujeres
Cozumel Boat Trips Sunset (987) 113-6107 Caleta Marina - 3.0 mi. (4.9 km) South West of San Miguel Cozumel
Cozumel Sailing (987) 869-2312 Puerto Abrigo - 2.2 mi. (3.6 km) North of San Miguel Cozumel
Ecologic Divers Sailing (501) 226-4118 San Pedro Ambergris Caye
Fat Cat Sailboat (984) 116-3040 The vicinity of La Gloria Mexico
Holbox Collection (998) 267-9836 Holbox Holbox
Holbox Island Tours (984) 875-2028 Holbox Holbox
Mexican Caribbean Tours (998) 267-7845 Holbox Holbox
Robinson Crusoe Tour -- 0.4 mi. (0.6 km) Southeast of Akumal Mexico
Snorkel Tour Cooperative Morelos -- Puerto Morelos Mexico
VIP Holbox (984) 875-2107 Calle Igualdad - Holbox Holbox
Whale Shark Tours by Holbox Travel (866) 262-8621 Holbox Holbox
Yucatan F1 -- The vicinity of La Gloria Mexico

Boat Rentals and Charters

Charter companies in the Caribbean come in all sizes. Larger companies are recommended for your first charter, since there are fewer guarantees with the smaller companies. For example, if the boat you had requested becomes unavailable, smaller companies may not have other boats for replacement. On the other hand, in the same situation, larger companies will most likely give you a similar or larger boat at no extra cost. Many of the better smaller companies, however, purposefully stay small in order to provide better customer service.

There are two "tiers" of charter companies, but these are not quality or service designations. In the first tier, companies use the newest boats, often with the most extras. Boats older than four or five years are no longer used by first tier companies. First tier boats may include the auto pilot function, GPS systems, stereos, and cell phones; check with the specific charter company for details. Second tier companies usually use older boats from the fleets of first tier companies. These second tier boats come with fewer extras and a lower price tag.

When selecting a crewed charter, make sure you're compatible with the crew. The best way to find the right crew for you is through a broker. Yacht brokers act similarly to travel agents, and they can often provide quotes from several different chartering companies. The boat owner pays for the services of the brokers, so you can utilize their help at no cost. Brokers can also help you find a bareboat charter.

If you are starting to research a boat charter, you can reserve one from these agencies:

Charter and Rental Services
Name Phone Location
CataMaya (984) 803-4008 The vicinity of La Gloria Mexico
Costa Maya Cruise Boat Rentals -- Costa Maya Cruise Terminal - 33.2 mi. (53.5 km) North of Xcalak Mexico
TMM Yacht Charters (501) 226-3026 Coconut Drive - San Pedro Ambergris Caye

Yachts are usually chartered from within or near the Caribbean on a weekly basis. You may travel with this boat to Mexico, and return it an average of one week to ten days later. Your yacht rental options are bareboat, skippered bareboat, or crewed charter.

On most charters you may choose between paying an additional fee to have the charter company provide the food or buying it yourself before you set sail. While buying the food yourself can save money, it presents some challenges. Bringing food into the Caribbean through customs can be time consuming, and buying food can be difficult, especially if you are not departing from a major port. Whatever you decide, remember that fresh fruit and vegetables must be purchased locally. Also remember that you will be responsible for feeding everyone on board, including the skipper and/or crew.

Docking

Private sailing boats heading to Mexico must enter the country through an official port of entry. Travelers will need to clear their entry with the Port Captain's Office (the Capitanía), the Immigration Office (Migracíon), and the Customs Office (Aduana). Immigration and customs services are available at the following ports along the Mexican Caribbean:

  • Cozumel
  • Puerto Morelos
  • Majahual

At the Aduana you will need to fill out an Import Form. This form states the rules for docking in Mexico and provides the fine amount for any rules broken. The ship's owner does not need to sign this form, but an original, notarized form giving another person power of attorney must be shown if the owner is not present. When leaving Mexico you must give this form to the departure port. You will also need to give one original and one copy of your boat's state registration or Coast Guard registration as proof of ownership. The Aduana will keep the copy of this document.

If you choose to handle port entry yourself, you should first visit the Capitanía with all of your documentation. He will later direct you through the other offices. Otherwise, clear through a marina, which may charge no more than $100(USD) for all services. If you enter through a marina, you will receive blank tourist cards to fill out. Otherwise, you will need to get them from the Migracíon office, and every person must be present to fill out and sign their own card.

Contemplating traveling to Yucatan Peninsula using your own vessel, or a vessel you charter elsewhere? See the table that follows to find summary information for nearby marinas.

Marinas
Name Phone Location
Aqua Fun Marina -- 8.2 mi. (13.2 km) Southeast of Cancun Mexico
Aquatours Docks -- Boulevard Kukulcan at Km 6.5 - 6.0 mi. (9.7 km) East-Southeast of Cancun Mexico
Aquaworld Marina (998) 848-8300 7.9 mi. (12.7 km) Southeast of Cancun Mexico
Barracuda Marina -- 7.6 mi. (12.3 km) Southeast of Cancun Mexico
Belize Yacht Club Marina (866) 589-4618 San Pedro Ambergris Caye
Blue Ray Marina -- 7.6 mi. (12.2 km) Southeast of Cancun Mexico
Boca Iglesia Cooperative Dock -- 0.9 mi. (1.5 km) Northwest of Isla Mujeres Isla Mujeres
Caleta Marina -- 3.1 mi. (4.9 km) South West of San Miguel Cozumel
Chac -Chi Marina -- 4.3 mi. (6.8 km) East of Cancun Mexico
Corozal Bay Sailing Club -- First Avenue - Corozal Belize
Del Rey Marina -- 8.0 mi. (12.9 km) Southeast of Cancun Mexico
El Cid Marina -- Puerto Morelos Mexico
El Manglar Marina (998) 881-6000 M-40 Lote 7 y 7A - 9.4 mi. (15.1 km) Southeast of Cancun Mexico
El Milagro Marina (805) 698-8165 Colonias Isla Mujeres
El Muello Del Laguna -- 28.3 mi. (45.5 km) South of Tulum Mexico
Embarcadero Romeo -- 0.7 mi. (1.2 km) Northwest of Isla Mujeres Isla Mujeres
Holbox Marina -- Holbox Holbox
Holbox Pier -- Holbox Holbox
Isla Pajaros Dock -- Isla de la Pasion Isla de la Pasion
Jamie's Marina -- Downtown Playa del Carmen Mexico
Lagoon View Marina -- 7.5 mi. (12.1 km) Southeast of Cancun Mexico
Marina Paraiso -- 0.9 mi. (1.4 km) Northwest of Isla Mujeres Isla Mujeres
Marina la Bonita (998) 872-8318 Riviera Cancun Mexico
Ocean Marina -- 7.4 mi. (12.0 km) Southeast of Cancun Mexico
Patria & Progreso Coop Dock -- 0.7 mi. (1.1 km) Northwest of Isla Mujeres Isla Mujeres
Playon Dock (Collectivo Van Stop) -- 27.2 mi. (43.7 km) South of Tulum Mexico
Puerto Abrigo -- 2.2 mi. (3.6 km) North of San Miguel Cozumel
Punta Del Este (998) 168-8495 7.3 mi. (11.8 km) East-Southeast of Cancun Mexico
Royal Marina (For Guests Of Royal Resorts) -- 8.2 mi. (13.2 km) Southeast of Cancun Mexico
San Marino -- 4.5 mi. (7.2 km) East of Cancun Mexico
Sunrise Marina -- 7.8 mi. (12.5 km) Southeast of Cancun Mexico
Xcalak Pier -- Xcalak Mexico
Yacht Club Marina -- 1.9 mi. (3.1 km) Northwest of Isla Mujeres Isla Mujeres
Yachts E -- 7.4 mi. (12.0 km) Southeast of Cancun Mexico

The documentation you will need includes the following:

  • The original (and 10 or more first copies) of your boat's documents as mentioned previously. A
  • valid passport for each person onboard. Be sure the passports will not expire soon.
  • A tourist card for everyone onboard.
  • An up-to-date crew list.
  • Pesca fishing papers, including boat permits and individual fishing licenses. These are required for everyone onboard, whether you have fishing gear and plan to fish or not.
  • Mexican officials charge no fees for boats or trailers left in Mexico for up to 20 years. Travelers may enter and leave without their boat. Once you have passed through all of these formalities, you may also stop in at local ports at Isla Mujeres, Chetumal, and Puerto Morelos.

The Yucatan has a very long coast, and specific destinations can have special circumstances. Read our local guides to gain insight on sailing within certain parts of the Mexican Caribbean.

Sailing in Specific Areas
Guide to Akumal Sailing
Guide to Cancun Sailing
Guide to Chetumal Sailing
Guide to Cozumel Sailing
Guide to Holbox Sailing
Guide to Isla Mujeres Sailing
Guide to Playa Del Carmen Sailing
Guide to Riviera Maya Sailing
Guide to Tulum Sailing
 

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