Mazatlán is the second largest city in the state of Sinaloa, founded in the 16th century. Because of the beautiful nature, clean beaches and warm climate, it is often called the “Pearl of the Pacific”. For the same reason, Mazatlán has become one of the main seaside resorts in Mexico. Already in the middle of the 19th century, hotels appeared here, and foreigners began to arrive. An important role was played by migrants from Bavaria, which left an imprint on local traditions: beer is loved here, and Bavarian motifs are clearly traced in folklore.
Mazatlán has always been distinguished by affordable prices, which is why it is still so popular. Tourists from all over the world come here to fish and relax on the luxurious beaches, most of all Americans and Mexicans. Check clothesbliss for how to get to Mexico.
How to get to Mazatlán
The nearest airport is General Rafael Buelna, located 15 km from Mazatlán. There are flights from Moscow and St. Petersburg, but they all have two transfers, and the flight will take at least 20 hours. It is more profitable to get through Mexico City with a subsequent flight to Mazatlán (1 hour 40 minutes in the air) – buying tickets separately, you can find inexpensive options. There are buses from Mazatlán Airport to the main bus station in the city centre. Travel time is about 20 minutes.
In the city of La Paz, Baja California, there is also an airport from where you can fly to Mazatlán in just an hour. Almost every day there is a ferry from La Paz to Mazatlán: the carrier Sematur Transbordadores Ferry takes 16 hours.
There is only one form of public transport in Mazatlán – buses, but not all of them are the same. Large green ones with signs “Sabalo-Centro” run along the waterfront, bypassing tourist areas, including the Old Town. All the rest are cheaper and travel to remote areas of the city. Mostly tourists manage green.
There are ordinary taxis and simpler ones – “pulmonia” (Pulmonia), reminiscent of carts from golf clubs, invariably white. They are not very maneuverable, and they got their name, meaning “pneumonia”, because of the open sides: it seems like traveling in such carts is a risk of catching a cold and getting sick.
The choice of options for living in Mazatlán is very wide: there are hotels of different “stars”, apartments, budget hostels. Most of the hotels are located in Zona Dorada, an area slightly removed from the city center, but close to the coast. Even further north is Marina Mazatlan, where expensive hotel complexes predominate. In Zona Dorada, the average cost of a double room is 1000-1200 MXN per night, closer to Marina Mazatlan it reaches 3000-15000 MXN.
The central part near the port is not so popular, but the prices here are lower, from 500-900 MXN for a double room per night. The cheapest hotels are located a few kilometers from the beach, you can find a room for 300 MXN.
The city beaches of Mazatlán are the leaders in length among all others in Mexico: they occupy several kilometers of the coast, and all this is within the city. The oldest section of the beach is Playa Olas Atlas (Playa Olas Altas, “big wave beach”) near the historic center. Due to the pebbly shore and high waves, this is not the best option for swimming, but surfers love it.
Playa Olas Altas is home to the famous Punta de Clavadista (“place of divers”), where locals collect coins from the audience and jump from a cliff into the water – in the evenings with torches for greater entertainment.
Playa Bruja (Witch’s Beach) on the northern outskirts of the city is also more popular with surfers than bathers. The rest of the beaches are located between these two. They are sandy, with a gentle approach, the usual infrastructure and water activities. Umbrellas and sun loungers are paid, but you can bring your own “equipment”.
Cuisine and restaurants of Mazatlán
Mazatlán is jokingly called “the shrimp capital of Mexico” because of the huge amount of production of these marine life. Therefore, the menu of local restaurants always includes shrimp dishes: they are fried with spices, added to salads, grilled, wrapped in tamales. Fish and other seafood dishes are popular and are often served as cocktails. If you get bored with seafood, you can try Sinaloa chicken, cooked with spices in hot oil, they prefer spicy tomato sauce as a sauce.
Tacos and other local fast food costs 30-50 MXN, dinner in a restaurant for two with alcohol will cost 250-500 MXN.
Entertainment and attractions
Along the coast stretches the Malecon promenade with hotels and restaurants, occupying 17 km and conditionally divided into 9 sections. Due to its impressive size, it is considered the main attraction of the city. It starts from the El Faro lighthouse in the south and ends in Nuevo Mazatlán. The El Faro lighthouse is the second highest after Gibraltar, it reaches 135 m. It takes about half an hour to climb it, but from the top platform you can enjoy a magnificent panoramic view of the city.
In the northern part of Mazatlán there is an aquarium where 250 species of marine and freshwater inhabitants live in 52 tanks (Av de los Deportes, 111).
On the central square stands the city’s cathedral, unique in its kind. The dome and the two twin towers are covered with bright yellow roofs, a color rarely used in church architecture. The stained-glass windows of the cathedral depict the Star of David, not the most popular subject for a Christian temple. This is due to the fact that a Jewish family helped to restore the cathedral. Nearby is the theater of Angela Peralta, built in 1860, but soon abandoned and almost destroyed. After restoration in 1992, it became an important historical monument. Performances are regularly held here, you can just inspect the premises from the inside for a small fee. Next to the theater is Machado Square, the cultural center of the city, where street artists, musicians gather, local craftsmen sell their handicrafts.
The “stone island” (Isla de las Piedras) adjoining the city from the south is popular, where tourists are taken on excursions. In fact, this is a peninsula with less crowded beaches and its own infrastructure, which can be reached independently by bus from the central city square or by boat from the Playa Sur Embarcadero pier at the ferry terminal.
There are also real islands: “Goat Island” (Isla de Chivos), “Island of Birds” (Isla de Pajaros) and the most visited of the three “Deer Island” (Isla de Venados), tourists are brought here by boat. There is nothing on the islands themselves, except for a few dilapidated palm canopies, but they are part of a nature reserve.
Mazatlán often hosts competitions in sport fishing, catching large marlin, swordfish, dorado and sailfish is especially popular. Fishing is offered by many local operators, while the prices are lower than in most other coastal Mexican cities.
The main holiday of Matsalan is the carnival, the oldest in Mexico, although not as noisy and colorful as in Rio de Janeiro or Veracruz. It has been held every year since 1897, begins a week before Lent (February-March) and lasts 5 days.
The rainy season is from June to September in Mazatlán, so fishermen predominate among tourists. Fishing is especially good here in July-August. It does not rain all day, but still it is not very convenient for relaxing on the beach. The beach season lasts from November to May; tourist activity peaks in spring and Christmas, mostly Americans, Canadians and Mexicans come here.