Mazatlan, Mexico | Cruise port of call | CruiseBe
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Mazatlan, Mexico

Mazatlán is a city in Sinaloa state, Mexico, known for its fine beaches.
Mazatlán is a socially and economically diverse city, with more than 350,000 welcoming people of all races. It is a popular vacation and retirement destination for Europeans, Canadians and Americans, and also provides opportunities for working immigrants. It has several distinct inner city districts, as well as outlying suburbs that are mainly inhabited by poor and middle-class Mexicans, but there are two primary areas of interest to visitors: the Zona Dorada where the tourists go and the Centro Historico with several lovely plazas and many recently renovated 18th century commercial buildings and private residences.

Flora and fauna

The flora of Mazatlán are tabachines, eucalyptus, laurels, and poplars. Its fauna includes birds like ducks, herons,... Read more

Mazatlan, Mexico

Mazatlán is a city in Sinaloa state, Mexico, known for its fine beaches.
Mazatlán is a socially and economically diverse city, with more than 350,000 welcoming people of all races. It is a popular vacation and retirement destination for Europeans, Canadians and Americans, and also provides opportunities for working immigrants. It has several distinct inner city districts, as well as outlying suburbs that are mainly inhabited by poor and middle-class Mexicans, but there are two primary areas of interest to visitors: the Zona Dorada where the tourists go and the Centro Historico with several lovely plazas and many recently renovated 18th century commercial buildings and private residences.

Flora and fauna

The flora of Mazatlán are tabachines, eucalyptus, laurels, and poplars. Its fauna includes birds like ducks, herons, and pelicans. There are armadillos, raccoons, and a variety of marine species such as whales, dolphins, turtles, and fish. White-tailed deer is one of the main animals that characterizes Mazatlán. Today, there are fewer animals and plants than before, due to the way humans have changed the ecosystem.

Mazatlán has several protected areas, one of which is the Protection of Flora and Fauna Area (APFF). CACAXTLA Plateau is located between the towns of Mazatlán and San Ignacio in the central part of the state of Sinaloa, and contains a portion of the coastal habitats of the state, and is the largest in Sinaloa. This wealth of habitats favors the presence of 66 species of flora and fauna listed in NOM-059-ECOL-2001 and CITES and 47.5% of endemism reported for Sinaloa, plus charismatic and commercially important species. At the same time, the protected area is home to a population of 7,964 inhabitants, whose livelihood depends entirely on the extraction of natural resources in this area. The relationship between nature and society in the APFF Cacaxtla Plateau is the focus of this program.


Mazatlán etymologically comes from the Nahuatl language and means "Land of deer" (mazatl "deer" and Tlan: "earth" or "place").

Originally, the name Presidio of Mazatlán was used for what is now called Villa Unión. The port of Mazatlán served as a reference to arrive to Presidio by sea, and was called the Islands of Mazatlán. By decree of the Estado de Occidente, on September 11, 1828, Presidio of Mazatlán was renamed Villa of the Union. This freed the name Mazatlán (land of deer), and since the port was known as Islas de Mazatlán, the name was adopted.

Historic Center

The Historic Center of Mazatlán, among whose former inhabitants are French, German, Chinese, Italian, Spanish and Americans (many contemporary inhabitants of Mazatlán are descended from these), was named Heritage of the Nation on March 12, 2001. A civil association composed of a group of Mazatlán locals have managed to revive this area, along with the support of various organizations, companies, and government authorities. Among the buildings and areas of high cultural value are the Plazuela Machado, the Angela Peralta Theater, the old Hotel Iturbide (today the Municipal Arts Centre), Mansion of Redo, Melchers House, House of Retes, Corvera Building, Bank of London and Mexico Building, Haas House, Temple of San José, and various others.

Culture and art

Mazatlán hosts several events annually, the most important being the International Carnival of Mazatlán, which was 114 years old in 2012. Other important events are the Mazatlán Cultural Festival and the José Limón International Dance Festival, celebrated every year in the winter and spring, respectively. There is also the Book Fair and Arts of Mazatlán (Feliart) and Mazatlán Book Fair.

Another important event is the International Motorcycle Week, which attracts thousands of motorcyclists from around the country as well as from abroad, and is held each year during Easter week.

In sports, Mazatlán is home to the Pacific International Triathlon held in April, and the Pacific International Marathon, which is held every year in late November and early December and is attended by athletes from around the world.

In 2012, Mazatlán was chosen as the host city for the tenth installment of Premios Oye!, prizes awarded by the National Academy of Music in Mexico, and the Volleyball Olympic qualifiers for the Olympic Games in London 2012.


Mazatlán has a Tropical savanna climate bordering a hot Semi-arid climate, with a marked and rather long dry season and an average annual temperature of 25 °C.
Note that during the summer months, with the humidity factor, temperatures usually feel well above what the thermometer shows.

During the period of 1940-1980, the municipality experienced an average annual 748 mm of precipitation, with a maximum of 215.4 mm in 24 hours, and 90.4 mm was observed in one hour. During the same period, the average evaporation rate per year was 2146.80 mm; the prevailing winds are in a northwesterly direction at an average speed of 5.0 meters. Thermal sensation in summer is quite marked.

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Mazatlan, Mexico: Port Information

Your cruise liner will dock in the industrial area. There is a tram that will transport you to the cruise terminal. There you can find taxis that can take you to Old Mazatlan and Golden Zone. 
Old Mazatlan is only one mile away so you can walk this distance (about 20 minutes).
Golden Zone is further (4 miles away).
Taxis outside the cruise terminal are cheaper.

Get around Mazatlan, Mexico

By taxi

Besides normal taxis, the tourist areas (Zona Dorada and Centro Historico) always have many small white open-topped taxis called pulmonías that look like dodgem cars. These are unique to Mazatlan. Although you'll never have to wait long for one (they're always whizzing back and forth) ask the price before you get in and then bargain. The correct price will usually be about 30% less than the original quote. Don't overdo the haggling, though. You may want to give the driver a little tip as appreciation for a safe and enjoyable journey.

By bus

There are two different types of public transport buses that run in Mazatlán. The larger green ones run along the main tourist strip right along the water and either turn off at Rafael Buelna Anvenue or continue on along the Malecon to downtown. These are the equivalent of coach buses, they are very well air-conditioned and in great shape. Be sure to check the windshield of the bus as the bus route is typically written on it. These buses serve the entire city well but can be confusing without a thorough knowledge of the system. The buses that go along the Malecon between downtown and the tourist district are the "Sabalo-Centro" buses.

By car

Mazatlán is approximately on the intersection of highway 15 and highway 40. In-town transportation is mainly motorized, except for the Centro Histórico, which is a very nice walking district. For tourists, cabs can be found in sparse supply compared to the number of pulmonías in town. Pulmonías are essentially open-air taxis, many of them old Volkswagens. They're as safe as any cab, just as cheap, and offer a far better view of the city on a nice day.
  • AGA Rent a Car, Av. Camaron Sabalo #312-A, Zona Dorada. AGA Rent-A-Car has been renting vehicles to travelers and local renters since 1989. Their first location opened in Mazatlan, Sinaloa, Mexico and they have since expanded to serve Los Mochis and Culiacan, with locations both at the airport and in town. There are the usual competing companies (Hertz, Avis, etc), but AGA may be the least expensive.

What to see in Mazatlan, Mexico

  • Lighthouse of Mazatlan (El Faro de Mazatlán). Look for the signs that say "Faro" around town. Now the highest natural lighthouse in the world (Gibraltar was the highest, but now not in operation), it is 515 feet above sea level. You will have the best view in Mazatlan if you hike up. Don't attempt the hike up unless you're in shape.  
  • Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. This lovely building was finished in 1899 and is being gently restored to its original beauty, although to a visitor it is already beautiful to behold. Its exterior displays a beauty that needs no extras or frills, its inner beauty is juxtaposed to its outside. With all interior light coming through the stained glass, it takes on a lovely color, and its reflection off gold statues and other images is quite something. A unique detail is that, at the time of the construction, there was a Jewish family living in Mazatlan, and they donated money towards the construction. People were so happy that they decided to set the Star of David in the top windows of this cathedral. One of the only Catholic churches with this Jewish symbol.  
  • Cliff divers - These daredevils do something similar as in Acapulco, but it is lower and more shallow. The rock formation that they climb up is about 45 feet high and it is only 5 to 6 ft deep. They wait for the right wave to make the dive. They are there all day long, but the best time to see them is in the morning.
  • The Acuario Mazatlan - with bird, seal, and diving shows. Adjacent to the Parque de la Ciudad and Parque Infantil. Between Del Mar and Internacional, north of Deportes.
  • El Mercado - A large marketplace located in the historic center of town where they sell everything from t-shirts to traditional Mexican handcrafts. In the center is the meat and fruit market that serves the local residents. The name is Mercado Pino Suarez and it was finished in 1899.
  • Machado Square (Plazuela) - The jewel of the restored Centro Histórico. The west side of the square is flanked by the Teatro Angela Peralta, originally built in the 1800's, a beautifully restored building (1987 to 1992) which regularly offers many types of drama and music. Adjacent to the Teatro is a Spanish-language exhibit explaining the history of Mazatlán. The north side has Pedro y Lola's restaurant, a favorite among locals and tourists. On the south side is a hotel restored to its original beauty. A decent (Spanish-language) bookstore is only a couple of blocks away near the Universidad Politécnica de Sinaloa on Constitución. Keep your eyes open for shops with interesting (high-end) local art. The restaurants on the Plazuela have great food, some a little nicer and pricier than others. El Patio and Café Pacífico line the northeast corner of the plaza and regularly have a fantastic acoustic guitarist playing at night for the diners and the square. Along the north side are three great spots for lunch or dinner. With offers of cheap, ice-cold beer all day, it isn't hard to be lured in to try a little of their food. All these restaurants have both indoor and outdoor, on the sidewalk, seating. It reminds one a bit of Paris.
  • Olas Altas Beach - This lovely curving beach with its popular Malecon and many restaurants serve the residents of the Centro Historico. Don't miss it. It's only four blocks west of the Plazuela Machado.
  • A graveyard. There is one on Barragan, a block north of Najera. Beautiful and interesting.

What to do in Mazatlan, Mexico

  • The miles of beach have plenty to keep most people occupied. Jet skiing, waterskiing, and parascending are all available, but always haggle on price.
  • Dinner Theater or Comedy Club. The newest evening time passers are the murder mystery dinner theater put on by Murder in Mexico, at Las Flores Beach Hotel on Tuesday nights, 669 180 2038 for bookings, and The Mazatlan Comedy Club at the Hotel Playa Mazatlan which is on monthly between November and March. Approach the concierge at the hotel there to book.
  • Surfing. Mazatlán has several prime locations where you can try out your surfing skills. The most popular spot is a beach called Playa Bruja to the North of the city. The waves easily reach heights of 8-10 feet and there is almost always a vendor from whom you can rent surfboards. This is a remote beach that is usually fairly empty. Not only is the surf great, but the lack of annoying vendors makes it even better. Another surfing location is right next to Valentino's (this is the largest landmark in the city). There are several places to rent boards right on the beach, however, the waves are not nearly as good as Playa Bruja.
  • Estrella Del Mar Golf Course. Camino Isla de la Piedra KM 10, Mazatlan, Sinaloa, Mexico 82280. Rated one of the best courses in Mexico, Estrella Del Mar is a challenging 18-hole championship Mazatlan Golf Course designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr. Just 10 minutes from Mazatlan airport, the course is laid out alongside the ocean, fronts 3½ miles of beach and offers tropical landscaping, beautiful lakes and truly spectacular scenery.
  • Estrella Del Mar Sea Turtle Sanctuary. KM 10 Camino Isla de la Piedra, Mazatlan, Sinaloa, Mexico 82267. The Sea Turtle Sanctuary at Estrella Del Mar in Mazatlan, Sinaloa, is the lagest privately funded sea turtle preservation and adopt a sea turtle program in Mexico. Established in 1998, the Turtle Sanctuary was created with the single goal of protecting and conserving the sea turtle Lepidochelys olivacea species.

What to eat and drink in Mazatlan, Mexico


Coconuts - Try it with lime, salt, chili powder, various hot sauces.
There's a restaurant to suit everyone's taste and budget. They're keen on seafood, especially prawns (camarones) and steaks.

  • La Bahia - Amazing seafood.
  • Chili's Pepper - Good atmosphere and often busy (always a good sign).
  • Chon, at Carnival and Flores. Crab, shrimp and marlin tacos, etc. 
  • Costanzas, Old Maz., at Serdan and 21 de Marzo. Comida corrida (daily special), prices vary, always good.
  • La Mona, Centro Histórico. A great pizza place. Always filled with locals (a good sign), and they have salads that tourists can safely eat.
  • La Tromoya - Also on Plaza Machado and the best option next to Pedro y Lola's. Indifferent service, but good food (especially the tortilla soup).
There's also a restaurant in the middle of the Square located at Zaragoza and Nelson. Ham and eggs with tortillas, toast, and beans. The iguanas in the square are fun to watch, too (but terrible to eat).

  • El Olivo Cafe, Deli & Boulangerie. The best cafe, delicious breakfasts, house-bread deli sandwiches, organic salads, pastas, unbelievable fresh fruit salads. And a wonderful variety of freshly baked pastries. Gaviotas and Camaron Sabalo, Fracc. Gaviotas Zona Dorada. Phone 913 2327.
  • Topolos - A really fancy restaurant-outside in a beautiful courtyard with red walls and oil paintings from local artists. The food is amazing, the service is amazing, but the atmosphere beats all. Try the cubos tementapec, or the shrimp.
  • Lucila's Restaurant - A quaint bistro that probably has the best view in town of the ocean. Located inside Casa Lucila Hotel Boutique, the bistro serves up delicious meals for breakfast, lunch & dinner. Drink specials and wine are always available.
  • Hector's Bistro - A bistro serving modern European food if you need a break from the tacos. Reservations recommended if you're coming for dinner but there is always seating at the bar. Serves breakfast next door at Krema.
  • Pedro y Lola - On the Plaza Machado square in Centro. Only open for dinner.


Just like the restaurants, there are plenty of bars to choose from, depending upon taste, budget and comfort. Tourists occupy the seafront bars whereas locals head inland where the atmosphere can be excellent.
You must try Pacífico, a beautiful locally brewed beer. 
  • Señor Frog's bar and restaurant (part of an international chain) is the place to be and be seen for locals on a Saturday night, and draws a huge tourist crowd as well.
  • Bora Bora complex, which looks like an enormous white castle on the beach, has half a dozen bars and clubs overlooking the ocean and is always happening well into the dawn. Security at this bar is significantly less than at Joe's Oyster Bar. It should be considered dangerous and unsafe to go here without several muscular friends unless you want to be robbed at knifepoint directly outside the door in front of hundreds of people.
  • Joe's Oyster Bar, Av Playa Gaviotas 100. Joe's Oyster Bar is located on the beach in the Hotel Ramada Mazatlan (formerly the Hotel Los Sabalos). It is a palapa (grass roof) bar. It is 2 for 1 beer (about 40 pesos) all day and night. It opens around noon and stays open until 2 am weekdays and 4 am weekends. During the day you can sit on the ledge over the beach and listen to classic rock music. They have a volleyball court in the bar if you wish to play. It is great for happy hour and watching the sunset. At night, it turns into a nightclub where you can dance on the chairs and tables. Many people hang out on the beach in front of Joe's just to listen to music. It gets very busy on Friday and Saturday nights and has a small cover charge (60 pesos) which includes your first 2 beers or 1 mixed drink. During the day, food is served. A visit to Joe's Oyster bar is a must when you visit Mazatlan.  
  • Gus Y Gus Restaurant Bar and Grill, Avenida Camaron Sabalo #1730 Centro Commercial Plaza Dorada L A-1, Mazatlan, Sinaloa, Mexico. Gus Y Gus (pronounced Goose-E-Goose) is a great little restaurant/bar in the Golden Zone. It is located across the street from the Hotel Costa De Oro. The food is very reasonably priced. It is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. In the evening, the house band "Chameleon" plays classic rock and roll music. When it is busy, people will get up and dance. It has both open air and air-conditioned sections. Normally, the open air sections are where people sit. Gus Y Gus is the place to go to have a good evening out: dinner and dancing. 
  • Green Bar a great place for refreshment while ship cruises are in Mazatlán, is located in the port.

Shopping in Mazatlan, Mexico

  • Centro Histórico Most of the shops and vendors down here are trying to make a living selling their wares. You can get a fantastic product, at far cheaper prices than if you go to the "Golden District" or to the Mall. It's also a great district to walk through, giving you more to do than just spend money all day.
  • Golden Zone The name says it all. High class, high prices. Valentino's Disco is famous for its parties, no matter what time of the year.
  • La Gran Plaza Mall You'll find the Mall largely empty but for a few middle-class kids milling around looking for somewhere to spend their money. High prices in almost all the stores, bad food (well, I guess it's just mall food, like anywhere else), and absolutely no culture or feeling like you're anywhere but somewhere to waste money. The one bright spot? A really big video-game parlor that is great for kids big and small.

Safety in Mazatlan, Mexico

Mazatlán has the problems that all large Mexican cities do. It's wise to walk in groups or with someone else in any city after dark. Some places in the Centro Histórico and Golden Zone are well lit and occasionally busy at night. Don't let this deceive you into believing it is safe to walk around after dark. Don't be afraid to walk around the Cathedral, Malecon or Plaza Machado during the day. Incidents of chain-snatching and robbery at knifepoint have been reported as occurring directly in front of Valentinos Disco in the Golden Zone even when it is very busy and several hundred people are standing outside. Avoid having any jewelry whatsoever, or wearing nice clothes so you are not targeted by the thugs in this large city. Unoccupied lifeguard stands are on all main beaches, however, lifeguards are rarely present. You'll usually know if jellyfish are in the water by looking at the flags (white) on the beach but stings are still possible, you may want to bring a small container of vinegar to ease the sting. They will also warn you of other dangerous conditions (red flags), so be sure to look for them and heed their warnings.

Language spoken in Mazatlan, Mexico

Spanish is the predominant language. English is widely spoken in tourist places. 


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