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Mexican Auto Insurance

Mexican Auto-Insurance is a Requirement. Please do not risk it. You will find Mexican auto insurance vendors on both sides of the border crossings. A better idea is to set up your insurance before you go. The following link allows you to buy your insurance online and print out your policy.

We recommend Sanborn's Insurance.

Getting Around

When driving into Mexico, you no longer need to stop at the 21km check point for a car permit or visa unless you are traveling south of Guaymas or get a red light at the customs crossing. Once you clear the customs light you are ready to go to San Carlos. Above all, remember that you're a guest in Mexico.

Do not transport guns or ammunition into Mexico. If you are caught with either, you will be jailed immediately and your vehicle confiscated. There are no exceptions. Mexico is a delightful country with warm people and rich traditions. Please remember that you are a welcome guest in a foreign land and act accordingly.

Vehicle Permits - For Traveling south of Guaymas, Sonora a permit is required.  If you are planning on traveling south of Guaymas you still need to obtain a car permit. You will need to stop at the 21km checkpoint and get a Visa good for 180 days. Your car will be issued a sticker and permit that expires in 6 months. The permit and sticker must be returned to the return booth on the northbound lane opposite the 21-KM checkpoint prior to expiration or you may be fined. There is a $16 fee that must be paid with a credit card (the name on the credit card must be that same as it appears on the vehicle's registration.) The card must be a Visa, MasterCard, or American Express. No cash or debit cards are accepted. There are no exceptions.

You will need both the originals and copies of the following documents:

The tourist card (visa) issued to you in the customs office. (You will have to have one copy made of the tourist card before you can present your paperwork to get a vehicle permit. There is a copy station inside the main building. The cost is 25 cents (U.S.) per copy.)

  • Current vehicle registration.

  • Current driver's license.

  • Proof of current US vehicle insurance.

  • Proof of citizenship.


There are numerous Pemex gas stations along the way. Magna Sin is unleaded, and lleno (pronounced yay-no) means full It is sold in liters (3.78 liters = 1 gallon). Only cash is accepted and there is no self-service. Most stations close by 10PM. Desert Divers recommends that you fill up in Nogales , on the U.S. side of the border, before you head south and then again in San Carlos before you head back north.


One of the best sites that we have found for current weather and weather forecasts is:


Maps & Directions


By Car

Sonora Bay is located just 320 miles due south of Tucson, Arizona.  As you approach Guaymas the road signs for San Carlos are clearly marked. From Tucson you take Arizona State Highway #19 to Nogales. At the outskirts of Nogales take the Highway #189 bypass (Exit #4) (be sure to be on "Mariposa Road") which then becomes Mexico Highway #15 after you cross the border. All roads on the way to San Carlos are 4 lane divided highways and are generally in very good shape. There are three "toll roads" you will encounter along the way. The first toll booth you'll encounter charges 25 pesos (about $2.50) and the other two charge 47 pesos (about $4.70 ) each way. There are ample gas stations along the way, however, if you happen to need roadside assistance, Mexico has a fleet of emergency vehicles, known as the “Green Angels” who assist all travelers on Highway 15. Just raise the hood on your car and they'll stop to help you out. They speak some English and charge only for parts or towing.  Finally it is important to note.. do not have guns or ammunition in your vehicle or possession!! If you are caught with either you will be jailed immediately (no exceptions!) and your car will also be confiscated as well. Remember that you are in a foreign country and the laws of the US do not apply here. Mexico is a delightful country with warm people and rich traditions.


By Air

There are several daily flights to Hermosillo (HMO) and Guaymas (GYM) from Phoenix Sky Harbor (PHX). Hermosillo is just over an hour’s drive north of San Carlos.  San Carlos is served by the commercial airport at Guaymas (GYM), approximately 15 miles away. Guaymas is served by  America West (now US Air). An alternate routing may be made through the airport in Hermosillo (HMO), which is 75 miles away and then complete your journey by bus to Guaymas/San Carlos. When checking rates on-line, you’ll often find substantial savings by booking  2 roundtrip tickets: the first set  for your Departure City-Phoenix leg and the second for the Phoenix-Guaymas (or Phoenix-Hermosillo)  portion. Since you’ll probably want to do some sightseeing while you’re in town (and taxis are relatively expensive) it makes sense to get a rental car during your stay. Each airport has both Budget (1-800-527-0700) and Hertz (1-800-654-3131) rental car agencies on location.


General Information

Passport Requirements

Passports will be required for re-entry into the U.S. via air effective October 1st, 2007.  Passports are not yet required for re-entry via land port of entry.  Please contact U.S. customs and Border Protection website for the latest information regarding re-entry requirements at

We strongly recommend getting a passport.  It is currently required for re-entry by air and will soon be required for all re-entry into the U.S.


San Carlos

San Carlos

San Carlos