Topolobampo Sinaloa is a port town and coastal area that sits just 22km away from the city of Los Mochis in Northern Sinaloa. Los Mochis residents will often venture here, and the nearby beaches of Maviri, at weekends when they want to escape to the sea.
It isn’t the most beautiful beach town in Mexico, but it isn’t without its charm and it serves a purpose when people want to escape to the Gulf of California. As a tourist, visiting Topolobampo gives an interesting glimpse into local life, and a chance to experience an authentically Mexican beach town that has not been gentrified or changed by international tourism.
The town is the fourth-largest in the municipality of Ahome. It is possible to take ferries from here to La Paz in Baja California Sur.
In that sense, Topolobampo and the wider region of Northern Sinaloa make a great travel pairing with Baja California Sur, Los Cabos, and La Paz. (If you have a lot of time to dedicate to traveling around Mexico).
Things to do in Topolobampo Sinaloa
Topolobampo was founded by an American Civil Engineer named Albert Kimsey Owen in the 19th century. He saw industrial potential in the region and worked on developing the port as a way to open up trade routes between Sinaloa and the world.
There are plenty of things to do in Topolobampo Sinaloa and the vicinity to warrant spending a day here. If you are already in Los Mochis, perhaps on your way to the El Chepe train, El Fuerte, and Chihuahua, it makes a nice change of pace and atmosphere from the gritty city.
Stroll along the Malecon
The main activity in Topolobampo is simply strolling along the seafront Malecon. In recent years, locals have gone to great efforts to beautify and improve the appearance of the houses and buildings in Topolobampo.
Today, many of the houses that cascade down the hills towards the sea have been painted in bold vivid colors. The result is something that looks almost like the Northern Mexican version of Italy’s Amalfi Coast.
Or at least, it is a colorful town that resembles some of the mural art villages in South Korea. (The resemblance between Topolobampo and Busan’s Gamcheon cultural village is uncanny).
Along the waterfront, you will find an abundance of food trucks selling tacos, fruits, fresh oysters, and street food snacks. Look out for the crazy coconuts which are a local specialty.
Fresh coconuts are chopped and then prepared with all manner of weird and wonderful toppings. Cacauates (peanuts), chamoy (pickled fruit sauce), hot sauce, chili-flavored gummy candies, and tropical fruits are popular additions.
Oysters are sold by street vendors pushing small carts. You can buy 12 for 80 pesos. The traditional “Sinaloan” way to eat them is to douse them in hot sauce and eat them at the cart.
Beautiful murals depicting local indigenous groups, sealife, and symbols of Sinaloan culture have started emerging along the Malecon and the streets and alleyways that veer off from it.
Take a boat tour to see the famous dolphin “El Pechocho”
El Pechocho is the name of a famous dolphin that lives in the warm waters just across from Topolobampo. He has lived in a little cove called El Bichi for more than 30 years and has become something of a symbol of Northern Sinaloa.
(He is not in captivity, he just prefers it here!) Since Pechocho lives alone, and in a different manner from the other dolphins, marine biologists from across the world have come here to study him!
There are several running theories as to why he chose to live in isolation. One being, that he lived in this little cove with his mother and after she died, he refused to leave it.
Nobody is sure for certain, but the friendly mammal is always delighted to see tourists and can often be seen swimming and jumping alongside boats. You can take a boat tour from Topolobampo to visit El Pechocho (while maintaining a respectful distance).
The boats make several other interesting stops along their journey. From the sea, you have a perfect vantage point for taking photos of the houses of Topolobampo as they cascade down the hilltops.
A boat tour takes around 90 minutes and costs just 600 pesos (circa $30 USD). The price is per boat, not per person, and the little fishing boats can accommodate as many as 5-6 people.
Indulge in delicious Sinaloan delicacies
The state of Sinaloa, known as “the breadbasket” of Mexico is where 70% of Mexico’s farming and agricultural industries are based. So, everywhere you eat here, you will be treated to dishes prepared with fresh fruit and vegetables that have been sourced locally.
Since Topolobampo is a port town, it makes sense that many of the restaurants here specialize in seafood delicacies. They prepare dishes made with fresh fish caught by local fishermen earlier the same day.
Many establishments constantly modify their menus, preparing something special with whatever they were able to catch that day/week. Taqueria Don Gato (Pesquera de Topolobampo 35) is a local favorite that specializes in seafood tacos.
The dishes are inexpensive and the portions are huge. The piping hot tacos de camarón capeado and the quesadillas prepared with stewed marlin are not to be missed.
Nearby, Angel del Mar (Del Muelle, Topolobampo) is a seafood restaurant with excellent views across the water, particularly as the sun sets. Meanwhile, if you are interested in trying birria de borego, head to Birreria Don Chencho (Cajon. del Beso 81, Pesquera) a short walk away from the Malecon.
Birria is a Mexican stew made with lamb marinated in vinegar, dried chiles, garlic, and herbs, and spices before being cooked in a broth. It hails from the state of Jalisco, but it is very popular across Sinaloa and Northern Mexico
Take a picnic to El Maviri
Playa El Maviri is a golden sandy beach that sits 10km southwest of Topolobampo Sinaloa. It is actually located on an island in the Sea of Cortez and is connected to the Mexican mainland by a series of roads and bridges.
The pristine beach, backed by shimmering waters, is a nice place to spend a day by the coast. It is pretty quiet here during the week so you may find that you have entire stretches of coastline all to yourself.
On Friday nights and at weekends, people come here with packs of beers and picnics to hang out with their friends and family. There is always an abundance of street vendors here selling everything from Mexican drinks like agua frescas, to chopped coconuts, elotes, hamburgers, and hot dogs.
Restaurant-wise, there are about a dozen establishments that run along the unnamed roads that veer off from Carrt. al Maviri. Most specialize in seafood dishes.
Two that stand out are Nikostiones oyster bar restaurant and restaurant Miramar.
See the famous cave of bats
A short drive south from Topolobampo, just before you reach El Maviri, you will find a sprawling cave overlooking the water. This is known as “the cave of bats”. (Cueva de los Murciélagos in Spanish).
It is estimated that more than 5 million bats live inside the cave! If you happen to pass by in the evening, perhaps on your way back to Los Mochis, you will see millions of these bats pouring out of the cave and filling the night sky as they come out for dinner.
Where to Stay in Topolobampo Sinaloa
Sinaloa is still relatively new to international tourism. Most of the people that visit come here from Los Mochis for the day and then head back the same evening.
A couple of hotels operate in the area, but the selection is limited. Still, some reputable, safe hotels in Topolobampo that you may want to consider visiting during your trip are detailed below for your consideration.
Casa de la Aduana hotel boutique
The Casa de la Aduana hotel boutique is a new luxury property situated on the waterfront of Topolobampo bay. It boasts its own private section of beach, a spectacular pool overlooking the sea, and spacious, tastefully decorated rooms.
A delicious continental breakfast is included in the price, and all rooms come equipped with a flat-screen, wall-mounted tv, streaming services (like Netflix), air conditioning, and complimentary toiletries.
With prices starting from around $200 USD a night, Casa la Aduana is one of the more expensive accommodation options in the region. But you are paying for the view and location, so it is worth it if you are hoping to indulge.
Tomolobampo’s Tortuga hostel is a great, budget-friendly choice in the port town. Rooms here start from just $30 USD per night for a double or twin room with a sea view.
Dormitory beds are also available for approximately $12 USD per night if you are traveling independently or hoping to meet other adventurers. This social property has a barbeque, a communal garden, a shared kitchen, and a sun terrace on site.
Getting to Topolobampo Sinaloa
It is easy to get from Los Mochis to Topolobampo. It takes approximately 30-40 minutes to drive the 22km distance and the route is pleasant.
Renting a car in Mexico can give you a lot more freedom and flexibility in your schedule. However, public transport in Northern Sinaloa is pretty good and makes getting around Los Mochis and its surroundings fairly easy and affordable.
Take the bus
Azules del Noroeste buses depart from Los Mochis for Topolobampo every 20 minutes between 6 am and 8 pm. (It runs on the same schedule in reverse from Topolobampo to Los Mochis too).
There are multiple bus stations in Los Mochis, so note that for the bus to Topolobampo, you need to head to the Terminal Azules del Noroeste station (Tenochtitlan s/n, Centro). A one-way ticket costs 23 pesos per person. (Just over $1 USD).
Take an Uber
Uber exists in Los Mochis and is a good way to get around. If you spend any amount of time in Mexico, you will note that most people prefer to use rideshare apps like Uber and Didi as ways to get around.
Not only are they cheaper, but in Mexico, they are actually considered safer than getting into a random street cab. There is more accountability that way.
If you want to get an uber from Los Mochis to Topolobampo, it should cost you no more than around 200-250 pesos each way. You should be able to find a car for the return journey but if not, you can always return by bus.
There are a few common sense precautions that you can take for your safety when using Uber in Los Mochis (and in Mexico generally). When you are connected with a driver, make sure that they have completed several journeys before and that they are not completely new to the platform.
You can also check their review rating. If they have completed thousands of journeys and have a rating of 4.5, you can feel assured that you are in good hands.
If they have only completed 8, they may be fine, but for your safety and peace of mind, you may want to cancel and find a new driver. As long as you cancel and search for a new driver quickly after your fare is accepted (i.e. the driver has not already set out on their way to you), Uber will not charge you.
FAQs about visiting Topolobampo Sinaloa
Do you have any additional questions or queries about visiting Topolobampo Sinaloa? Hopefully, you will find the answers you are looking for below.
If not, please do not hesitate to reach out!
Is Topolobampo safe to travel to?
Topolobampo can be a safe place to travel to so long as you take precautions and use the same common sense as you would elsewhere. People are often concerned about the safety of traveling to Sinaloa in general, particularly as many international government travel advisories warn against it.
The reality is that in Sinaloa, like Mexico in general, the safety situation can vary significantly from city to city. Los Mochis, Topolobampo, El Fuerte, and Mazatlan are relatively safe and offer interesting places for tourists to see.
(Indeed you are likely to be in this part of Mexico if you are setting off on the El Chepe train). Do not drive off into rural parts of Sinaloa, especially at night, and in the evenings stick to the areas near the Malecon.
It is helpful to monitor the situation in Sinaloa prior to your trip. Political issues and organized crime-related developments can affect the feasibility of traveling here. However, these are usually the exception, not the rule.
Final thoughts on visiting Topolobampo Sinaloa
Topolobampo makes a great addition to any Northern Mexico itinerary and can be visited on a day trip from Los Mochis. If you are visiting Mexico for the first time, you might also enjoy reading this article on “Is Mexico safe?” or this collection of interesting facts about Mexico.
Have a safe trip! Buen viaje! Xo