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Piesquita, 36' Dive Boat

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El Mar Diving Center, San Carlos Mexico
Driving Directions

Distances to San Carlos

  • 263 miles from the Nogales, Arizona border
  • 325 miles from Tucson
  • 380 miles from El Paso
  • 443 miles from Phoenix
  • 502 miles from San Diego
  • 616 miles from Los Angeles
  • 624 miles from Las Vegas

Sonora Driving Distances

  • 175 miles, Nogales to Hermosillo
  • 244 miles, Nogales to Guaymas

Driving info

San Carlos, Mexico is approximately 4 hours (250 miles) south of the border at Nogales, AZ. The route is Mexico Federal Highway 15, which is a four-lane road. This route will take you through Imuris, Magdalena, Santa Anna and Hermosillo. There are three toll booths enroute at Nogales, Magdalena and Hermosillo. The toll for an automobile is from $2-$6 at each booth, depending on currency rates. Make sure to have Pesos for the toll booths, they are not accepting US Dollars at this time.

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There are two border crossing points in Nogales. The original point is downtown and can be reached by following 1-19 from Tucson to it's end or by going south on Business 19 if coming from the east on AZ Hwy 82. This crossing is open 24 hours per day. It is usually very busy and is not suitable if you are towing a boat. We prefer and recommend the newer Mariposa crossing on Hwy 189. If coming from Tucson, exit I-19 at Hwy 189 and go west. If coming from the east on Hwy 82, take North Business 19 and turn left at the second traffic light. The crossing is open daily from 6AM to 10PM, but is much less constricted. It is the way to go if towing anything bigger than a jet-ski or ATV.

Border Crossing Times

During the months of December and January, traffic returning to the US from Mexico can be very heavy and result in long waiting times to cross the border in Nogales. Weekends and holidays can be very congested. If your travel plans permit, try and avoid these periods. If they cannot be avoided we do suggest you get an early start leaving San Carlos. Border crossing times are available on line HERE (scroll down to Nogales - Mariposa).


Driving to San Carlos Mexico is very easy, you just need Mexican auto insurance, a tourist visa and a valid US drivers license. You can obtain insurance online here and can buy it for a specified time or on an annual basis if you expect to travel into Mexico frequently.


We'll say this more than once, but DO NOT take any type of firearm or ammunition into Mexico. If you hunt or shoot sporting clays or carry firearms or ammunition in your vehicle for any reason, check it carefully to make sure you did not leave these items in the vehicle. If caught in Mexico with these items in your possession the Mexican authorities will toss you in jail and forget where the key is! They won't care if it was accidental or otherwise-so check the vehicle.


Fuel including unleaded gasoline or diesel is available at numerous service stations along the route. You can buy any brand you like as long as it's PEMEX, the Mexican National Oil Company. These are full service, so don't pump your own (make sure the pump is reset Before they start pumping your fuel). They take pesos or dollars and price is per liter. Restrooms (banos) are normally available and can also be found at the toll booths.

Another neat feature about this route are the Green Angel trucks. These are mobile motorist aid units who will stop and assist if you do have a breakdown. Their mission is to perform minor repairs to get you back on the road. The best way not to meet them is to have the vehicle serviced before you cross the border. But it's nice to know they are there.

Speed Limits

Observe the speed limit signs, which are in kilometers per hour. Pay particular attention in built up areas as it is not uncommon to have pedestrians or animals along the right of way. Driving at night is generally not recommended as domestic animals may wander off the open range and onto the highway. El Toro (the bull) is neat, until you wrap a ton of steer around your front end. Stick to the daylight hours for highway travel, and as in the US, please don't drink and drive. Please don't litter.

Some common signs and their meanings

Peligrosa Danger (They really mean it too)
Curva Curve
Poblado Proxima Population ahead
Llanteros Tire Repair Shop
zquierdo Left
Derecho Right
Alto Stop
Cuotas Toll
Caseta Toll Booth
Topes Speed Bumps (big ones!!)

Do's & Dont's


  • Obey traffic laws and observe speed limits.
  • Try and learn a bit of Spanish and use it-the Locals will respect you for trying.
  • Remember that you are a guest in their country.
  • Carry a supply of water in your vehicle for both you and the vehicle.
  • Sample the local cuisine-seafood.
  • Take precaution against over exposure to the sun-it can get HOT in Mexico.
  • Take medications with you, particularly for stomach problems.
  • Watch for disabled vehicle warning signs, livestock and construction zones. These can appear very suddenly.
  • Support San Carlos Rescate
  • Have a great time!


  • Drink & Drive
  • Bring firearms or ammunition to Mexico
  • Be an ugly Norte Americano. Show the proper respect for your hosts.
  • Attempt to conduct business under a tourist visa-you may NOT do so.
  • Drink the water from the tap. In many places it is safe, but why take the chance on spoiling your trip with Montezuma's Revenge. Buy and use bottled water.
  • Drive at night unless an absolute necessity.
  • Try to bring fruits, vegetables or meat products back into the USA. Filleted fish is OK.

El Mar Diving Center Mexico
263 Creston
San Carlos, Sonora, Mexico
USA Toll Free Phone/Fax 1-877-365-0251
Local Phone 622-2260404