Eric and I have crossed over from Baja California to mainland Mexico! We took the ferry out of the Pichilingue port in La Paz on a Saturday night and woke up in Mazatlan on Sunday morning.
If you want to take the ferry from Baja California to the mainland, it is essential that you get your Tourist Card when you first drive over the border from the USA into Baja California. This is a crucial step, as you will not be allowed to cross over to the mainland without the Tourist Card. While tourists are required by law to have the Tourist Card if they are traveling at all in Mexico, we met several people during our travels who had failed to get the Tourist Card at the border. These people were unable to cross to the mainland even though they had originally intended to. We even met one person who flew from La Paz back to Tijuana just to get the Tourist Card so he could make the ferry passage.
In order to make the ferry passage to the mainland, you will also need to get a vehicle import permit. While you can do this online, we found it easier to get the permit in person at the Banjercito Office at the ferry port just outside of La Paz. (Technically the port town is called Pichilingue.)
Finally, you will need to get your ferry ticket. There are two ferries that make the passage from La Paz to the mainland: Baja Ferries and TMC. We had intended to make the passage on Baja Ferries, since that organization is more oriented toward tourists. However, when we tried to book our ticket with Baja Ferries we learned that their ferry that serves Mazatlan was indefinitely out of service. Baja Ferry’s only available mainland ferry was to Topolobampo (outside of Los Mochis). We wanted to minimize the time we were driving through Sinaloa, however, and really did not want to arrive in Topolobampo. Therefore, we ended up booking our ferry with TMC through their office in downtown La Paz. The TMC ferries are not passenger ferries – they are actually used to transport Mexican cargo trucks. This ended up working out better than expected, however, since it meant we were able to sleep inside our van, which would not have been possible with Baja Ferries. Also the fact that this is a freight ferry makes it somewhat less expensive than the Baja Ferries.