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Trailer Boating to Ensenada
Ensenada’s Hotel Coral is just steps away from the resort’s marina facilities, which include the only fuel dock on the Pacific side of Baja California.
West Coast boaters today are imbued with a healthy dose of caution when it comes to towing their boats to Mexico, particularly when traveling through border towns. Yet, my wife, Kathleen, and I decided to do it anyway on occasion of our 38th wedding anniversary.
Our original plan was to launch our 22-foot saltwater fishing boat in San Diego and cruise to the Hotel Coral and Marina near the coastal town of Ensenada, some 60 nautical miles down the coast. The resort was hosting us for four days. However, rough seas and prudent seamanship put a halt to the idea of getting there by water.
So, after a brief but decisive discussion, we decided to tow our boat to Ensenada instead. Though we have cruised and fished with this boat in Mexican waters before, this would be the first time we towed it into Mexico.
Before getting to the border, we stopped in San Ysidro (the last U.S. city before the border) and purchased Mexican insurance for our truck, trailer and boat. Our vehicles and boat were fully covered by a U.S. insurer, but Mexican law requires coverage for on-road vehicles from an insurance concern in Mexico. The cost for the minimum requirement was $56 for four days.
I will admit to clenching pretty tightly as we passed the point of no-U-turn on the I-5 freeway south. Yet, the crossing into Mexico was relatively uneventful, though we were detained by Mexican customs officials while they confirmed registrations of the truck, trailer and boat, and went through the boat – presumably checking for firearms and illegal drugs. Having found nothing inappropriate, the officials waved us on. If you’re towing a big boat, be aware that the inspection lanes are relatively narrow, and it is a tight turn to enter. I barely made it with our rig.
From the border, bear to the right to get on southbound Mexico 1, the beginning of Baja California’s transpeninsular highway. The road is well marked, making it easy to stay on track. The initial portion of the drive skirts the city of Tijuana and parallels the imposing steel wall that marks the border along the brown hills between the two countries. It eventually leads to a scenic toll road that will take you the 65 miles to Ensenada and the Hotel Coral and Marina. There are three toll stations along the way, and you will need to pay 33 pesos, or $4.80, at each.