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‘Old’ Mazatlán, the traditional town center, dates from the 19th century. Tourists started coming in the 1930s, mainly for fishing and hunting, and some hotels began to appear along the Playa Olas Altas, Mazatlán’s first tourist beach, in the 1950s and that’s when Mazatlan became know as the ‘Mexican Riviera’. The town continued to grow steadily through the 1960s. From the 1970s onward, a long strip of modern hotels and tourist facilities has spread north along the coast.
With a population well in excess of half a million, Mazatlán continues to get bigger and bigger. Still, part of Mazatlán’s charm is that it’s not just one big tourist resort.
Mazatlán International Airport is 20 km south of the city on Highway 15. Several airlines schedule flights to and from this airport every day. The average price for a taxi is 200 pesos, roughly a 30 minute ride. You also have the option of airport buses which cost 38 pesos per person. The bus will drop you off wherever you are staying.
An inexpensive way of getting around town is the ‘Pulmonia’. A Pulmonia is an open air vehicle, similar to a golf cart, usually seat two to four passengers. The word pulmonia comes from the Spanish word for ‘pneumonia’. The old residents got the idea that riding an open air car can give you a cold!! They are cheaper than taxis and they are a lot of fun.
Mazatlán has regular taxis, often called ‘eco-taxis’, which are usually painted red-and-white or green-and-white.
They also have local buses which run along main routes. From the downtown central plaza they head along the malecón, continuing north through the Zona Dorada to various north-end destinations, which are marked on the windshields. Fares should run less than half a dollar.
Mazatlán offers a wide variety of accommodation choices ranging from budget hotels to 5 star resorts. You can choose from luxury villas, penthouse suites with panoramic views, deluxe condominium units, elegant resorts and motels.
The camp trailers and backpackers will also find lodging that suits their needs, and be assured they will all be close to the beach surrounded by shops, nightspots and restaurants.
For detailed hotel information or to reserve a hotel in Mazatlán, please visit: http://www.easytraveling.net
Mazatlán has one of the longest stretches of white sand beach in Mexico. Its gentle slopes and calm waves of uninterrupted 16 km of sandy beach is most inviting. Not to mention the most beautiful sunsets of the Pacific Coast. Water temperature of 65-75 degree year round is ideal for all sorts of aquatic sports.
Olas Atlas Beach – the main beach, is where first tourism began in the 1950s.
Cerritos Beach – warm, beige-colored ocean water bathes the coarse sand on this gently inclined beach.
Playa Los Pinos Beach – is where local fishermen sell their catch. The water temperature waries between warm and fresh.
Norte Beach – perfect place to enjoy the seafood. Restaurants are scattered along this beach facing the open sea. This is one of the longest beaches in the country.
Sábalo Beach – with the magnificent view of three big islands, this beach is ideal for tourists, Mexican vendors, swimming, practicing water sports or just enjoying a lazy day.
Isla de la Piedra (Stone Island) – Southern end of Mazatlán peninsula, is a short 5 minutes boat ride from town. It offers miles of mostly undeveloped sandy beach lined with coconut groves and open-air restaurants.
Isla de Venados – you can see three rocky islands from Mazatlán’s beaches. Isla de Chivos (Goat Island) is on the left, and Isla de Pájaros (Bird Island) is on the right. In the middle, Isla de Venados (Deer Island) has been designated a natural reserve for protection of native flora and fauna. These secluded beaches on the islands are wonderful for a day trip, and the clear waters make great snorkelling.
Mazatlán is the place when it comes to shopping. You can buy almost anything in any color, style and taste. Souvenirs are abundant, and plenty of bargaining opportunities from T-shirts to precious stones.
Zona Dorada (Golden Zone) – is the main shopping area of Mazatlán for souvenirs and arts & crafts. Hugh selection of handcrafts from all over Mexico. The shops and galleries feature an assortment of clothing, jewelry, seashells, leather goods and furniture.
Plazuela Machado – for a more authentic Mexican shopping experience. Located in Old Mazatlán, the municipal market features open air stalls packed with food, clothing, pottery, handicrafts, piles of fresh shrimp, fish and produce, and some of the best vanilla you will find in Mexico. The assortment varies and the price is right.
Flower Market – in the place where the old bus station used to be, now it is selling nothing but flowers. Several dozen stalls surround the building at the corner offering a color burst and delicate perfumes. The Flower Market is open 24 hours.
The Mazatlán dining scene centers around fresh seafood, many varieties of shrimp, fish, octopus, clams, oysters, shark, squid. Mazatlán is the shrimp capital of Mexico, their shrimps are prepared in every way imaginable. Seafood is always a good choice.
The local restaurants serve almost every cuisine from American fast food to great steaks, prime rib, Italian and oriental food. Fiesta nights are popular, featuring the finest in Mexican cuisine and entertainment. Restaurants tend to be casual and meals are reasonably priced.
If you want a light breakfast, make sure you try “licuado”: Fresh fruits (papaya, melon, banana, mango, etc.) are blended with milk and sugar or honey. You can add wheat germ (trigo), oatmeal (avena), nuts or whatever they’ve got. You can specify water instead of milk (con leche).
There should be no cause of concern for drinking water. Most restaurent and hotel used purified water and ice.
The nightlife in Mazatlán starts late and will live up to your expectations. Many of the nightclubs and discos do not even open until 9 or 10 pm and close around 3 or 4 am.
A large selection of dancing, live music, Mexican Fiestas and Theme Night Spectaculars, and festive watering holes to choose from. Music at local bars, sport bars and discotheques ranges from easy listening piano bar music for a quieter evening to mariachi groups or tambora bands.
Most places dont require cover charge, but some do. Many bars offer ladies nights during the week with free admissions and drinks.
One thing for sure, you will love Mazatlán after dark!
There’s always something happening in Mazatlán. They have several activity events every month.
What to See
Acuario Mazatlán (Mazatlan Aquarium) – located half a block east of Avenida del Mar at Avenida de los Deportes #111. Over 250 species from around the world of fresh and saltwater marine life from colorful reef, fish to moray eels. Interesting sea museum and an auditorium with film about sea life. Daily show of sea lion and exotic birds is presented several times everyday in an open-air amphitheater. There is an adjoining botanical garden with various tropical displays and small zoo with crocodile exhibit.
Mazatlán’s Aquarium, one of the largest in Latin America, it’s perfect for a family visit. Open daily 9:30 a.m.-6:30 p.m, admission is charged.
Old Mazatlán Historical Zone – the oldest part of the city just inland from Playa Olas Atlas. In the heart of Old Mazatlán is the large 19th-century cathedral with its high, yellow twin towers and beautiful statues inside. Two blocks south, the attractive Plazuela Machado is the centre of a large historic area of Mazatlán. It’s surrounded by unique sidewalk cafes and beautifully restored historic buildings such as the Teatro Ángela Peralta, built in 1860. Blocks of historical building structures and private residences including rows of town house with wrought-iron and stone trimline the narrow streets.
Cliff Divers – the cliff divers are a tradition in the Old Mazatlán. They jump into a small shallow cove and come very close to the rocks. The divers are not paid and they only jump for tips and for fun. This is also where families gather and enjoy food and snacks from street vendors, including the fresh coconut drinks.
Mazatlán is famous for its sport fishing – especially for marlin, swordfish, sailfish, tuna and dorado (dolphinfish). There are plenty of fishing operators, all of whom should offer tag and release options. Water sports such as scuba diving, water-skiing, sailing, parasailing and boogie boarding are all available year-round. The best surfing is at Punta Camarón and ‘Cannons’, off the point near the old fort on Paseo Olas Altas.
A tour guide is a good way to see the city highlights, the history and several points of interest surrounding towns and area. If you want to enjoy the sights and best shopping of Mazatlán. We recomand Frank as your guide, he will meet you at your hotel, at the cruise ship dock or at the airport with a very comfortable, clean and air conditioned vehicle. He speaks English and Spanish, very friendly and knowledgeable about the city, and he will answer any of your questions. Visit his website at www.mazatlan-tours.com
Jungle Tour – the tour boat will pass the harbor featuring the largest shrimp, tuna fleets in the country, Mexican navy boat, the Pacifico Brewery, the shrimp packing plants and the thermoelectric plant where power is produced for the state of Sinaloa. You will cruise through mangroves-lined waterways and inlets, and up to Isla de la Piedra (Stone Island). It is ideal for bird and nature lovers. You could see the Mexican Brown Pelican, Sea Hawk, Blue Heron, Osprey and other exotic water fowls in this protected wildlife refuge. The tour stops at a native farm for a snack. You will go for an wonderful ride through the coconut plantation to a private beach. Where you would enjoy sunbathing, horseback riding, or a stroll down the beach looking for seashells and maybe the largest sand dollars. A delicious charcoal-grilled fish, Mexican rice, homemade tortillas, and coconut candy desert will be served. On your return, get ready to enjoy the Pelican and Frigate bird show.
“Mazatlan IS Paradise” by Charles A Hall. This book is available at La Vina church and Mazatlán Book and Coffee Shop in Mazatlán, also online at www.iuniverse.com or www.amazon.com
This article is just a small portion of what Mazatlán has to offer. There is so much about its history, beach, real estate, rental, medical, dining, what to see and do, events, wild life rescrue, charity, fishing, bird watching and much more.
I highly recomand reading the book mentioned above “Mazatlan IS Paradise”. Then you will fall in love with this city as I did.
Whatever your passion, this is the place. Mazatlán, where you can still experience the “real Mexico” with friendly people, very good food and activities to choose from, and nice long streches of sunny beach and spectacular sunsets.