How Long Did It Take Cortes to Sail to Mexico?

How Long Did It Take Cortes to Sail to Mexico?

The journey of Hernán Cortés to Mexico is one of the most remarkable expeditions in history. In the early 16th century, Cortés set sail from Spain with the ambitious goal of exploring and conquering the vast lands of Mexico. His voyage was not only a significant milestone in European exploration but also marked the beginning of Spanish colonization in the Americas.

The Voyage Begins

On February 10, 1519, Cortés departed from the port of La Palma in Spain with an expedition consisting of 11 ships and around 600 men. Their destination was Mexico, a land that was largely unknown to Europeans at the time. The journey was fraught with challenges and uncertainties, as they ventured into uncharted waters.

Challenges at Sea

The voyage across the Atlantic Ocean was long and treacherous. The ships sailed westward, battling against strong winds, unpredictable weather conditions, and treacherous waves. The crew had to endure sea sickness, cramped living quarters, and limited provisions throughout their arduous journey.

It took Cortés approximately two months to reach the island of Cozumel off the eastern coast of Mexico. Cozumel was an important stop along their route as it provided an opportunity for restocking supplies and making necessary repairs to their ships.

Exploring Mexico

After leaving Cozumel, Cortés and his men continued their journey along the Yucatan Peninsula. They faced numerous challenges including hostile encounters with indigenous tribes who resisted their presence.

The March Inland

Cortés reached the mainland on April 21, 1519. From there, he made his way along the coast, establishing friendly relationships with some indigenous groups and recruiting allies who were opposed to the Aztec Empire’s rule.

The Journey to Tenochtitlan

Cortés set his sights on the grand capital city of the Aztec Empire, Tenochtitlan (present-day Mexico City). The journey from the coast to Tenochtitlan was filled with challenges such as difficult terrain, battles with indigenous warriors, and navigating through unfamiliar territories.


In total, it took Cortés approximately 9 months from the time he left Spain to reach Tenochtitlan. His voyage was not only a test of endurance and perseverance but also a testament to his leadership skills in navigating through unknown territories. Cortés’ arrival in Mexico marked a turning point in history, leading to the eventual downfall of the Aztec Empire and the beginning of Spanish colonization in the Americas.


  • Smith, M. E. (2012). The Aztecs (Vol. 18). John Wiley & Sons.
  • Diaz del Castillo, B.(2005). The Conquest of New Spain. Penguin Classics.

Now that you know how long it took Cortés to sail to Mexico, take a moment to appreciate the courage and determination it took for him and his crew to embark on such an extraordinary journey.

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Lindsay Collins