Entering the Port of Mazatlan
Language and Currency
What is Mazatlan Like?
What is the Weather Like?
Where Does the Ship Dock?
Where is the Shopping?
What is There to Buy?
What is There To Do?
Is There Anything of a “Don’t Miss Quality?
Are There Any Great Restaurants or Bars?
A Mazatlan Hillside Facing the Pacific Ocean
Spanish is the official language, but most residents speak some English. The currency is the Mexican Peso, but US Currency is widely accepted. If paying with a US dollar, you will most often get change in US currency and most merchants and taxi drivers will quote your price in US dollars.
Mazatlan's Malecon and Downtown Beach
Set at the foot of the Sierra Madre Mountains, on a peninsula that extends into the Pacific Ocean, just below the Tropic of Cancer, Mazatlan is city filled with scenic beauty and an enchanting atmosphere. Lined with 10 miles of golden sand beaches and speckled with blue lagoons, it is no wonder that Mazatlan is known as the “Pearl of the Pacific”. This is one of the few places along the Mexican Riviera that the true flavor of the “real Mexico” is still alive.
Just One of the Ocean Statues Along the Malecon
Different from many of its neighboring Mexican Riviera resort towns, Mazatlan was a city first and it became a beach resort almost as an afterthought. Mazatlan boasts the largest port in Mexico and is home to one of the largest commercial fishing fleets in Mexico, as well as a hefty sport fishing fleet. This wonderful seaside resort has two distinct centers: the tourist zone, known as Zona Dorado (Golden Zone) and El Centro (Old Town/Downtown) that are linked by Avenue Del Mar (Malecón), a 17 mile scenic beachfront avenue, that curves along the waterfront.
Mazatlan enjoys a perpetual summer. Daytime averages, during the winter months, range from high 70’s to low 80’sF, with evenings cooling off into the 60’s. Summer months can be quite hot and humid, with temperatures averaging in the high 80’s and above. Mazatlan is also privy to an intense rainy season (July – early Sept.) and, if possible, I would recommend avoiding those months for a visit. Water temperatures are between 65° and 75°F year round.
Ships Docked in Mazatlan (Taken From Stone Island)
Ships dock at Peninsula Port on the southern edge of town along the Avenida Gabriel Leyva and Avenida Barragon. It is a bit of a hike into town, but the Malecón (waterfront boulevard) makes a walk quite pleasant. Taxis are convenient and plentiful at the port, however, and generally for $30 to $50 pesos will get you anywhere about town. You might opt for one of the pulmonias, open air taxis prevalent in Mazatlan, as an alternative to a traditional taxi.
One of the Shops in Mazatlan's Mercado
There are two different directions you can go to shop extensively. First, the major tourist shops line the streets of the Golden Zone, beginning with La Gran Plaza, the main shopping center, housing over 120 stores. Sea Shell City (Yes, just what the name implies) and the Mazatlan Arts and Crafts Center are along the Zona Dorado. If you want a more unique shopping experience, venture to the Mercado (open market) in El Centro (Old Town), one block northeast of the Cathedral.
Shopping in the Mercado
It is a combination tourist T-shirt/souvenir shop and grocery for locals. Be prepared to see rather unusual food selections, however. There are also a number of shops at the pier to pick up your requisite souvenirs of Mexico.
Shopping runs the gamut from sea shells to precious stones. Leather goods and silver are probably the best deals in Mazatlan, but you will also find a plethora of Mayan masks, ceramics, chess sets, clay wall ornaments, glassware, pottery and marble figures.
Mazatlan's Cathedral in Old Town next to the Mercado
Deep-sea fishing for sailfish, marlin and dorado, golfing, and enjoying one of Mazatlan’s beaches are the most popular tourist activities. Granted, the deep-sea fishing is excellent and the endless string of beaches includes nearly every type of surf-and-sand experience imaginable, but there is much more to Mazatlan. Take a stroll through Old Town and immerse yourself in a real Mexican city.
Mazatlan's Public Market
Start at the Mercado (open market) for a sensory feast; then walk one block southwest to admire the ornate Cathedral, built in 1875 and the adjacent Plaza Principal. Two blocks south and one block west is perhaps the most beautiful area of Mazatlan, the Plaza Machado. Here restaurants, sidewalk cafés and colonial buildings line the street. At the south end of the Plaza is the fully restored, Angela Peralta Theater, once a famous opera house built in 1865. This architectural delight is open for tours during the day. The Mazatlan Aquarium has over 200 species of fish and is an attraction worth visiting. The tequila tour of “La Vinata”, the only tequila distillery in the state of Sinaloa, is also a great way to spend a few hours. Now, let’s explore the beach options. First, if you plan to enjoy the beach, make sure to check out the cliff divers that test their prowess on the rocky cliffs of Olas Altas. There are many nice beaches in the Zona Dorado, with Playa Sábolo and Las Gaviotas being the most popular. Parasailing and jet ski rentals are available all along this stretch of sand. Beware that these beaches, although pretty and very lively, can be very crowded. Also, be forewarned that time share pushers are everywhere in this tourist zone.
Mazatlan's Golden Zone
If you wish to avoid the crowds, (and most of the time share hustlers), venture north of the Golden Zone to Playa Bruja (very quiet and secluded) or Playa Los Cerritos. Here you will find unbroken stretches of golden sand and no crowds. You can also take a ferry to Isla de la Piedra (Stone Island) to lounge on a pristine beach, lined with coconut palms, or to Deer Island for some snorkeling.
The Malecon, Downtown Mazatlan
Yes, don’t spend all your time in the Golden Zone, but make sure to venture into OId Town to experience a bit of real Mexico. If you are physically able, I think that a stroll along the Avenue Del Mar (Malecón) in Olas Altas, where the first beachfront resorts were built is a “must-do”. Once the city’s center, many 19th and early 20th century structures still line the boulevard.
Valentino's Disco in the Golden Zone
It is about a 3-4 mile hike from Valentino’s (the disco) at the south end of the Golden Zone all the way to Old Town.
The Shrimp Bucket in Mazatlan
Actually, I can make 4 recommendations in this area. One of the oldest restaurants serving tourists and locals alike is the Shrimp Bucket in the Old Town area. Across the street from the beach, Shrimp Bucket has been serving excellent seafood and libations for over forty years. It is a local legend. If you enjoy a crazy, “bit wild” party atmosphere than make sure to stop at Señor Frogs, in town on Avenida Del Mar. Café Pacifico, on Constitucion Ave. in the Plaza Machado, offers a great bar, fun atmosphere and a free pool, but, although lively, is a bit tamer than Señor Frogs. Finally, if you are looking for the best fish in Mazatlan, then by all means stop at Los Arcos. This non-touristy, local find is just down the street from El Cid hotel, but on the opposite side of the street from the beach.