Driving To San Carlos

Driving To San Carlos Mexico Is Safe

I am writing this from my home in San Carlos, Sonora, Mexico and I certainly feel safer when I am here than at my other home in Tucson, Arizona. Mexico is not a war zone and lots of innocent people are not being killed on a daily basis. Good news does not sell papers or get you to watch the evening news. Would you cancel a trip to Phoenix because 4 people were murdered there yesterday? Would you cancel a trip to Disney Land because 6 people were murdered in Los Angeles yesterday? Probably not. Mexico is about 2/3rds the size of the US in land mass so it is unlikely you will find yourself or any other friends or family in danger at any time. The Mexican government is going after the drug cartels and as a result violence is erupting between the narco traffickers and the police and military in isolated areas and incidents. If you are not in the illegal drug business, not a Mexican police officer, or a member of the Mexican military you have nothing to fear. The violence is primarily drug dealers killing other drug dealers as they fight for a shrinking corridor to smuggle drugs into the USA. If people in the USA would stop using so many illegal drugs these guys would be out of business. Currently the cartels are moving into Phoenix and Atlanta so drug violence in the USA is also on the rise, it is not just Mexico. 

In traveling to San Carlos, Sonora, Mexico you will NOT drive through Nogales if you use our driving directions, as the faster commercial crossing (Mariposa Crossing) goes around the city and is much faster. Once on the highway it is four lane highways all the way to San Carlos. The roads are well patrolled; there are gas stations, 3 toll roads with bathrooms and lots of small towns that you travel through so the highway is very safe and secure. Once in San Carlos you will find a small predominantly American community in Mexico. Here we don't lock our doors or worry about someone stealing our car or any other crime for that matter. This time of year our winter residents are here most of them in their 60's and 70's and they all drive back and forth between here and the USA regularly and no resident has had any problems. One friend of ours who turned 80 in November drives her Dodge truck back and forth once a month by herself! 

When you arrive in San Carlos you will discover what only a few of us know, that Mexico is as safe as ever, possibly even more so now with the more regular patrols by the federal police and “Green Angels” (mechanics on wheels). And when you return home we hope that you will be able to spread the word that Mexico is safe and more people should ask those who live there how it is and not believe everything you hear in the news.

PLEASE VISIT www.sonoraissafe.com to find information and testimonials from people who live in Sonora, Work in Sonora, and visitors who continue to travel in Mexico.

Driving Across the Border

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 San Carlos. Once you clear the customs red & green light you are ready to go to San Carlos. Above all, remember that you're a guest in a foreign country and please be polite and patient if they need to search your vehicle.

Lastly, 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.

Gas prices in Mexico are much lower than in the United States. So we highly recommend purchasing your gas in Mexico. The current price for fuel in Mexico is averaging $2.25 per gallon (7.72 pesos per liter) and Diesel is about $2.80 per gallon. All of the fuel in Mexico is refined here in the U.S. so any worries or stories about Mexican fuel is incorrect information. Their equilvalent of regular unleaded 87 octane is called Magna. It is the Green labeled fuel as opposed to their high octane called Extra or the Red labeled fuel. Please note that the PEMEX stations only take cash, they do not accept credit cards for fuel purchases. So plan accordingly. And enjoy your vacation in San Carlos!

Paperwork All Tourists Must Have

Current Drivers License

Current U.S. Insurance Card

All U.S. citizens must have proof of citizenship:

Passport.

Notarized birth certificate and government-issued photo identification. PLEASE NOTE THAT ON JUNE 1st 2009 PASSPORTS WILL BE REQUIRED FOR ENTRY INTO THE USA FROM MEXICO AND CANADA !!!!

With effect from January 1st 2005 it is no longer necessary for single parents, unaccompanied minors, widows/widowers or parents with estranged partners to produce notarized letters or other supporting documentation. Instead, each child MUST have his/her own passport. As with adults, the passport must be valid for at least 6 months from the date of departure.

Vehicle Permits - For Traveling south of Guaymas, Sonora a permit is required

Desert Divers and Ocean Sports strongly suggests the purchase of Mexican auto insurance if you're taking your vehicle across the border. While Mexican auto insurance is not necessary to receive a vehicle permit from the Mexican government, we do feel that it's prudent to have this protection.

There is a link (DOUBLE CLICK THE INSURANCE LOGO)on this page to purchase car insurance if you need it. You also 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. You will also find that it can be considerably cheaper to do it this way.

While we cannot rate the following local brokers, they do have Mexican auto insurance available for purchase. Rates will be dependent on the make, model and year of your vehicle as well as the length and amount of coverage desired.

AAA
6950 N. Oracle Road, Tucson, AZ
(520) 885-0694

AAA
8204 E. Broadway, Tucson, AZ
(520) 296-7461

San Xavier Mexico Insurance
2900 E. Broadway, Suite 108, Tucson, AZ
(520)327-1255

San Xavier Mexico Insurance
1777 N. Frank Reed Rd., #C, Nogales, AZ
(520) 377-0424

Sanborn's Mexican Auto Insurance
105 West Grant Rd., Tucson, AZ
(520) 882-5000

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 check point 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 $22 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.

Passport.

Mexican Auto Insurance

Desert Divers and Ocean Sports strongly suggests the purchase of Mexican auto insurance if you're taking your vehicle across the border. While Mexican auto insurance is not necessary to receive a vehicle permit from the Mexican government, we do feel that it's prudent to have this protection.

There is a link (DOUBLE CLICK THE INSURANCE LOGO)on Desert Divers home page to purchase car insurance if you need it. You also 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. You will also find that it can be considerably cheaper to do it this way.

While we cannot rate the following local brokers, they do have Mexican auto insurance available for purchase. Rates will be dependent on the make, model and year of your vehicle as well as the length and amount of coverage desired.

AAA
6950 N. Oracle Road, Tucson, AZ
(520) 885-0694

AAA
8204 E. Broadway, Tucson, AZ
(520) 296-7461

San Xavier Mexico Insurance
2900 E. Broadway, Suite 108, Tucson, AZ
(520)327-1255

San Xavier Mexico Insurance
1777 N. Frank Reed Rd., #C, Nogales, AZ
(520) 377-0424

Sanborn's Mexican Auto Insurance
105 West Grant Rd., Tucson, AZ
(520) 882-5000

Fuel

There are numerous Pemex gas stations along the way. Magna(Green) is unleaded regular, 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 US side of the border, before you head south. The fuel is a little cheaper in the US, and then again in San Carlos before you head back north

Tolls

All roads from Tucson to San Carlos are 4-lane divided highways, and are generally in very good shape. What makes them unique is their dependence on toll funding rather than taxation to pay the development cost. So, you'll have to 'pay as you go'. There are currently three toll booths (Nogales, Magdalena De Kino, and Hermosillo) from the U.S./Mexican border to San Carlos. Have a handful of small bills available so you'll encounter no problems with making change.

Breakdowns

If you do breakdown, the highway is patrolled by Los Angeles Verdes (The Green Angels). Just raise the hood of your vehicle and they will stop to help you out. These government-operated pickup trucks are driven by mechanics. They speak some English and charge only for parts or towing.

Traveling to Mexico Checklist

Passport for each passenger.

Current vehicle registration.

Current driver's license.

Proof of current US vehicle insurance.

Mexican Auto Insurance.

Driving Map to San Carlos. An absolute must! Don't have one? Download and print one here.

Drinking Water and Traveling Snacks. You will be driving across the Sonoran desert and, although there are towns and service stations along the route, it's a good idea to pack some beverages and "road chow."

Photo Galleries

Calendar

Dive Equipment