Things to do in Topolobampo & Los Mochis, Sinaloa
Los Mochis, like Chihuahua, is a terminal city for the Chepe railway through the Copper Canyon. Most people visiting the canyons will find themselves here either at the beginning or the end of their Copper Canyon journey.
The seaside town of Topolobampo is the best place to go while in the area. It’s where you’ll find the best beaches, the most wildlife and the top things to do.
The town of Topolobampo and the city of Los Mochis are so close to each other that we’ll cover both in this article.
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Introduction to Los Mochis & Topolobampo
Topolobampo and Los Mochis were both founded by Americans in 1893. A civil engineer by the name of Albert Kimsey Owen saw a lot of potential for a Pacific trading port where Topolobampo sits today. He and a few followers originally founded Topolobampo as a utopian socialist community.
Shortly thereafter, a businessman by the name of Benjamin F. Johnston, attracted by Owen’s visions for a port, found himself in what is now Los Mochis. He too saw a lot of potential in the region, but more specifically in sugarcane cultivation.
By the turn of the century, Johnston had built a sugar mill in Los Mochis and the city grew rapidly around it.
To this day, Los Mochis’ economy depends heavily on agriculture, though it has diversified a bit. In fact, the region is one of the top mango producers in all of Mexico.
Climate Around Los Mochis, Sinaloa
Los Mochis and Topolobampo sit at sea level and both have a semi-arid climate. The temperature is usually warm or hot year-round.
- April – October: daytime highs usually range from 32 to 38°C (90 to 100°F), night-time lows from 15 – 25°C (59 – 77°F). The rainy season is from July through September and the cities have occasionally been hit by hurricanes.
- November – March: daytime highs range from 26 to 30°C (79 to 86°F), while nightly lows are between 11 and 15°C (51 and 59°F).
The best time to go is in October as the landscape will be lush after the rain. However, as the weather is warm year-round, it’s easy to enjoy outdoor activities most of the year. It’s probably best to avoid July and August due to extreme temperatures and heavier rains.
Where are Los Mochis and Topolobampo?
Los Mochis and Topolobampo are in the north-western region of the Mexican state of Sinaloa. The two towns are only about 25 km (15.5 mi) from each other, and Topolobampo is situated on the coast of the Gulf of California.
Los Mochis is the end of the line (or beginning) for El Chepe, so most visitors to the Copper Canyon will find themselves there at some point.
The map shows the major transportation hubs (mentioned below), as well as the major sites mentioned in the Things to do section
How to get to Topolobampo and Los Mochis, Sinaloa
Los Mochis is more accessible than most of the other towns along the Chepe route with the exception of Chihuahua. It can be reached by plane, boat, bus and of course, train.
How to get to Los Mochis, Sinaloa by Plane
Only a handful of airlines service Los Mochis airport (LMM) and only for domestic flights. To fly internationally from LMM, Aeroméxico will be your best bet but it will require a connection in Mexico City.
You can take an Uber or taxi to the airport or catch an Azules del Noroeste bus from their station (see map above). Buses depart for the airport 5 times per day.
How to get to Los Mochis, Sinaloa by Bus
There are two bus companies that can connect you to either Topolobampo or El Fuerte from Los Mochis. These companies are Azules del Noroeste (blue buses) and Transportes Norte de Sinaloa (ANS, green and white buses).
Los Mochis to El Fuerte
Most travellers through the Copper Canyon actually prefer to take a bus between El Fuerte and Los Mochis as the schedule is more flexible and the cost is lower.
Azules del Noroeste buses depart for El Fuerte at least once per hour between 5 am and 8:15 pm. The ride is about 2 hours and costs 80 MXP per person. See the map above for the location.
ANS buses run about every 20 minutes from the ANS station (see map above). The cost is 60 MXP per person and the ride is about 1 hour and 15 minutes.
For details on how to get to Los Mochis from El Fuerte click here to see our El Fuerte page.
Los Mochis to Topolobampo
Azules del Noroeste buses head to Topolobampo every 20 minutes between 6 am and 8 pm. The 30-40 minute ride costs 23 MXP per person and departs from their station in Los Mochis (see map above). The reverse schedule is the same.
As the distance between these two towns is so small, taking a taxi or an Uber is very doable. It should cost somewhere between 170 and 250 MXP.
How to get to Los Mochis, Sinaloa, by Boat
Los Mochis doesn’t actually have a coastline but nearby Topolobampo does. Baja Ferries run between Topolobampo and La Paz, Baja California Sur, on a seasonally variable schedule. Check out their website for details and prices.
How to get to Los Mochis, Sinaloa, by Train
Both the Chepe Regional and Chepe Express begin and end their routes in Los Mochis.
The Chepe Regional departs Los Mochis on Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays at 6 am. It returns from Chihuahua on Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays at 9:30 pm.
Chepe Express departs Los Mochis on Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays at 7:30 am. It returns from Creel on Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays at 4:35 pm.
For more information about how to buy Copper Canyon train tickets, the differences between the Chepe Regional and the Chepe Express, Chepe ticket prices and train schedules, click here to visit our page: How to Visit Copper Canyon by Train.
Things to do Around Los Mochis, Sinaloa
The city of Los Mochis may not offer a whole lot to travellers but Topolobampo is so close that it’s very easy to head over there for the day. Alternatively, you can stay a night or two in Topolobampo to take in all it has to offer.
Below is a list of the main attractions and things to do in Topolobampo and Los Mochis, Sinaloa.
Things to do in Topolobampo
The nearby town of Topolobampo is only 25 km (15.5 mi) from Los Mochis and is situated on the Gulf of California, or, better known locally, as the Sea of Cortez. It’s a small port town where the malecón (esplanade) is always filled with locals and their fishing rods. You can easily find a little stall or restaurant serving fresh seafood and there are a couple of tours to consider once you’re town.
The information below was given to me by a local tour boat owner. It should provide you with some ideas of what is available and rough cost estimates, but if you’re willing to negotiate I’m sure you can tailor your own tour and agree on a fair price. To book a tour, just head to the pier in Topolobampo and look like a tourist. The guides will find you.
This rocky little island is situated about 15 km (9 mi) off the coast of Topolobampo. It’s well known for its sea lion inhabitants, which are usually lounging on the rocks between October and April.
You can hire a boat to take you out to the island to watch the sea lions or to swim or snorkel nearby. A boat tour lasting 6 hrs costs 5000 MXP. That’s the total price and can be split between multiple people.
Isla de las Aves
Another little island that you can visit is the Isla de las Aves, or Island of the Birds. It’s home to many species of local and migratory birds. The best time to see this island is between mid-April and early August.
A 1.5 hr boat tour will cost about 900 MXP, split between your group.
Around Topolobampo Bay
If you’d like to get a good look at the unique landscapes surrounding Topolobampo, you can book a boat tour around the bay. In addition to the natural landscapes, you’re likely to see different seabird species and maybe even dolphins.
A 1 hr boat trip around the bay will cost around 500 MXP, split amongst a group.
Pechocho is the name of a wild dolphin that tends to hang out in a nearby fishing port. He’s not captive but it’s likely that local fishermen have been feeding him for years and so he sticks around. In fact, he’s been known in the area for about 20 years.
You can book a boat tour to go see Pechocho, but as he is wild, it’s not guaranteed that you’ll see him. Either way, you can go for a swim while you’re out on the water. In some cases, El Pechocho has even come up to swimmers to interact with them.
Please Note: Feeding and interacting with wildlife is often not a good idea. It can be risky for yourself but also for the animals. If you do go to see Pechocho, try to encourage your guide or captain not to feed him, and to only interact with him on his terms (don’t chase behind him in the boat).
A 1.5-2 hr boat ride to (hopefully) see El Pechocho will cost 1000 MXP, split amongst your group.
This beach is about 11 km (7 mi) from Topolobampo and 30 km (18.5 mi) from Los Mochis, so it’s easily accessed by either.
Maviri is situated on the Sea of Cortez and has large, sandy beaches, a little boardwalk, picnic areas, and a lot of seafood restaurants. The most famous local dish is called el pescado zarandeado and is a must for any seafood lover.
How to get to Maviri Beach from Topolobamp
You can either hire a taxi or catch a bus. A taxi should cost about 100 MXP one-way and you can arrange for the same driver to pick you up later.
Buses leave for Maviri roughly every hour starting around 9:40 am until the last bus, around 4:40 pm. Buses from Maviri back to Topolobampo start at 9:00 am and run hourly until about 5:00 pm. A one-way ticket should cost 15 MXP.
How to get to Maviri Beach from Los Mochis
You can hire an Uber or a taxi to get you to Maviri Beach from Los Mochis and it should cost somewhere between 200 and 250 MXP. If you don’t plan on staying in Topolobampo for the night, it’d be a good idea to arrange for the driver to pick you up later.
Otherwise, you can take a bus. Azules del Noroeste buses leave the Los Mochis terminal (see map above) every hour between 9 am and 5 pm. I don’t have a schedule for return buses but a safe assumption is that the last one leaves Maviri by 4 pm.
Jardín Botánico Benjamin Francis Johnston
If you’re short on time in Los Mochis but still want to get your nature-fill, head over to the Botanical Gardens. The gardens are located only a 15 min walk from the Azules del Noroeste bus station and offer a peaceful place to sit and admire nature.
The gardens have many local and exotic flora and some local animals too, including a butterfly pavilion. You can even bring some food and have yourself a little picnic. If you have extra time in Los Mochis, this is definitely a great place to spend it.
Museo Regional del Valle del Fuerte
If it’s history and heritage that you seek, then this little museum will make an excellent stop. You can learn more about the Sinaloan region and its history, and how Los Mochis got its start as a city. They also hold special exhibitions on some weekends.
Note that the museum is closed on Mondays and that the signage throughout the museum is in Spanish only.
Hotels in Los Mochis
Although most travellers to Los Mochis are only passing through on their way to the airport, the city does have a lot of options when it comes to accommodations. And seeing as Topolobampo really only has one option, sometimes it’s more preferable to stay in Los Mochis.
Here are a couple of options for different budgets:
This hotel is simple but its location is perfect for anyone who will be using the Azules buses, as it’s just a couple of minutes walk from the station. It also has a great restaurant on-site, which is open late.
City Express Los Mochis
Situated right beside a supermarket, this is a great place to stay and stock up on snacks before heading out on El Chepe, or to Maviri Beach for the day.
Fiesta Inn Los Mochis
This is a comfortable hotel with a restaurant, a gym and an outdoor pool. Even better, it’s only a 10-minute walk to the Botanical Gardens.
Hotels in Topolobampo
Topolobampo is a tiny little port town and accommodation options are therefore very limited. In fact, there’s really only one hotel in Topolobampo that can be booked online:
Hotel Marina is spacious and has the essentials, though the rooms could use some touch-ups. The location, however, is great and makes staying in Topolobampo very easy.
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Additional Information for Los Mochis, Sinaloa
Below are some general tips from personal experience. If you have travelled in Mexico or Copper Canyon and have any other tips please feel free to leave a comment at the bottom of the page!
There are plenty of banks scattered throughout the city of Los Mochis including Scotiabank and HSBC.
If you’re travelling through Copper Canyon it’s advisable to take all the cash you’ll need with you as functioning ATMs can be very difficult to come by once you leave Los Mochis. That said, take the usual precautions when carrying large sums of cash and don’t visit an ATM after dark.
ATMs dispense primarily in 500-peso denominations and more often than not retailers don’t have change for these large bills. Hold on to as many small bills (20s, 50s, 100s, 200s) as you can, ideally getting change before you leave the city.
Don’t accept change in the form of ripped or torn bills as the next retailer won’t accept them from you. If you do find one in your wallet you can exchange it at a bank.
Many of the hotels throughout the Copper Canyon do not contain room safes and front desk staff will not assume responsibility for valuable items left with them. For this reason, I always travel with a LOCTOTE bag, which is a slash proof sack that can be secured to many fixtures. I find it brings me peace of mind when leaving my passport, camera, laptop or other valuables in my hotel room. It’s also great for the beach!
You can learn more about this super handy product by clicking here.
Not all travel insurance policies provide coverage for travel to the states of Sinaloa and Chihuahua, Mexico. Make sure you purchase the right policy for your trip. Click here to learn more about travel insurance specifically for the Copper Canyon.
The free app Maps.me contains more detailed routes and amenities than Google maps. You can download it for apple or android, and then download the map of Mexico before you leave to visit the Copper Canyon. Even if you don’t have data while traveling in Mexico you’ll be able to navigate using the map and GPS on your phone.
Service in the entire Copper Canyon is pretty weak, if non-existent, for many providers. Most hotels offer free wifi but if you’d like to have cell phone service I’d recommend picking up a telcel SIM card when you first arrive in Mexico as they have the best service throughout the canyons. Your phone will need to be unlocked in order to use it but the SIM includes plenty of data and unlimited calls to Canada, the US and Mexico and should only cost $200-250 MXP.
Itineraries for Topolobampo & Los Mochis, Sinaloa
How long should you stay in Los Mochis? Most people who end up here are either just starting or just finishing a trip through Copper Canyon. However, it’s actually preferable to start or end the train portion of the journey in El Fuerte, about 2 hours away. If you choose that option, you’ll have more flexibility with your time in Los Mochis. You can learn more about El Fuerte by clicking here.
If you’re interested in seeing Maviri Beach or Topolobampo, you’ll need at least one full day in the area. Below is an itinerary to fill up one or two days in the region.
- Arrive in Los Mochis late morning.
- Catch a bus to Topolobampo.
- Head to the pier as soon as possible to book a same-day boat tour.
- Enjoy the afternoon and early evening on a boat tour.
- Return to the pier for a super fresh seafood dinner.
- Stay the night in Topolobampo, or take a taxi back to Los Mochis.
- Get an early start and head over to Maviri Beach (buses can take you there from either Los Mochis or from Topolobampo, click here for details).
- Enjoy the morning and lunch at the beach.
- Head back to Los Mochis in the early afternoon (bus, taxi or Uber).
- Visit the Jardín Botánico in the late afternoon. It’s open until 8 or 9 pm depending on the day.
- For dinner, dine on some of the best seafood in Mexico.