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Pearl of the Pacific - Mazatlan, Sinaloa, Mexico.


When I tell people I lived in Sinaloa I can see their brain working overtime and the first thing that comes from their mouths is the Sinaloa cartel, Narcos Mexico or El Chapo and although it is understandable when you look at the U.S. government page and watch anything to do with the cocaine trade. Honestly I take offence, It's like Mazatlan or the state of Sinaloa has nothing else to offer and unless a percentage of the population have been under a rock then I will just have to assure you all that Mazatlan is a must.



As a lonely traveler on the road for 22 years, I've seen my fair share of stunning destinations. But there's something about Mazatlán, Mexico, that truly stands out. Maybe it's the beautiful beaches, the vibrant culture, or the warm and welcoming locals. Or maybe it's because, as a Virgo in nature, I'm drawn to the natural beauty and tranquility that can be found here. Whatever the reason, Mazatlán has a special place in my heart, and I'm excited to share my personal take on this amazing destination.


Well known for its laid back restaurants, open air bars, hotel resorts and beaches the Zona Dorada (Golden Zone) is a great way to start your adventure in Maza and although Mazatlan has a stigma due to being in the heart of Sinaloa you couldn't be any more safer or secure.


e in this region along its beautiful Pacific coastline. Working your way through the streets towards the beach you will realise this is well organised, clean and a tourist hotspot. The restaurants here will offer you anything from homemade tacos, American burgers, Chinese and a vast amount of delicious seafood that is fished locally every morning. Fun fact: Mazatlan is Mexico's largest commercial port due to the amount of tourism and fishing that is here in this colourful and vibrant city. It is also the gateway to Baja California where one can get a boat across the Gulf of California to the famous tourist destination La Paz for a day or two. Not only does Mazatlan offer some of the best seafood in the world, but it also offers some of the best whale watching, shark encounters and deep diving experiences that you cannot ignore.


From the Golden Zone looking south you will find beautiful stretches of beach that follow what is thought to be one of the longest boardwalks in the world: The Malecón at around 21km (13 miles) it is one of the major highlights when visiting Maza. Along this stretch you will find that sometimes you do not know which way to look. Surfers, sunsets and the ocean on one side; shops, bars and restaurants on the other and cyclists, skaters and joggers passing you by in the centre. The Malecon is bustling during the day, but it is the night time when it gets most interesting as it seems to be the place to meet and enjoy the cool breeze, have a cold beer and listen to either the waves or the music the beach clubs and bars are playing.

Between the famous Valentino's fiesta land and the world famous surf spot of Olas Atlas you will also get to enjoy a vast amount of statues and sculptures representing what it is to be a Mazatlanian, you will no doubt come across La Cueva Del Diablo (devils cave) on your to do list and the famous Carpa Olivera public bath. Heading towards the port you see El Faro lighthouse the highest natural lighthouse in the Americas and one of the highest operating lighthouses in the world, El Faro should be on your list of things to do in Mazatlan.


Next is the old city which is both captivating and enchanting. One of my favourite things to do in Mazatlan was to actually just ride around here and grab some ice cream and people watch. This part of Mazatlan will no doubt take you back in time with its colonial feel and old-fashioned bars, charming and delightful cafes and its artistic and decorative hotels. In the centre you will find the gorgeous Basilica Cathederal of Mazatlan,the Macardo Pino Suarez (Traditional Market) and the Museo El Rincón de Pedro Infante paying homage to the famous Mexican actor who is a national treasure. One place that should be on anyones list is the Plazuela Machado a bustling gathering spot that is an open air square and surrounded by beautiful restaurants and cafes.


Mazatlán has the biggest open-air archaeological museum of Mexico: Las Labradas. There you will find petroglyphs with ancient abstract art figures, and pre-Columbian monuments, which are about 3400 years old. Mazatlán also boasts the 3rd largest carnival in the world and has been celebrated since 1898.

 

Contents


When in Mazatlán

Restaurants and bars

Beaches

Honourable Mentions

Final thoughts


 

When in Mazatlán

Top 10 Things to Do

  1. Take a stroll through the historic center of Mazatlán, where you can admire the beautiful colonial architecture and soak up the vibrant culture.

  2. Visit the El Faro Lighthouse, the highest natural lighthouse in the Americas, for breathtaking views of the city and the surrounding mountains.

  3. Explore the Mazatlán Aquarium, home to a variety of marine life and one of the largest aquariums in Latin America.

  4. Check out the Angela Peralta Theater, a beautiful neoclassical building that hosts a variety of cultural events throughout the year.

  5. Go fishing in the Pacific Ocean, where you can catch everything from marlin to dorado.

  6. Take a sunset cruise, where you can enjoy a beautiful sunset over the ocean while sipping on a margarita.

  7. Visit the Plaza Machado, a historic square in the heart of the city that's surrounded by beautiful buildings and lively restaurants and bars.

  8. Go birdwatching in the nearby wetlands, where you can spot everything from egrets to pelicans.

  9. Take a day trip to the nearby town of Concordia, known for its beautiful colonial architecture and artisanal pottery.

  10. Enjoy a relaxing massage or spa treatment at one of the many luxury spas in Mazatlán.


Basilica Cathederal of Mazatlán

Also known as The Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception is the main religious building in the city. Originally the works of the temple began in the year of 1856 and completed in 1899. It still operates as the main church in Mazatlan.


Plazuela Machado



Plaza Machado originally constructed in 1837 to show case the wealth and progress of the city and has now become a hub of life and a great meeting spot for the community. Surrounded by popular restaurants, art galleries, bars and even a restored theatre this is the perfect place to come to relax, enjoy and people watch.


El Faro Lighthouse



El Faro - Spanish for "The Lighthouse" sits upon Cerro del Creston and offers a dominating view over the Pacific Ocean. Originally a beacon in 1828, everything changed in 1879 when El Faro was constructed to what we see today. Completing this nearly 750 meter hike and its steep 325 steps that can bring you up to a quick elevation of 550 meters is quite a feat. El Faro is considered the 2nd highest working lighthouse in the world and can be seen from 30 nautical miles from sea.


Museo Arqueologico de Mazatlan

This museum holds a collection of archaeological artifacts from pre-Hispanic Sinaloan civilizations and local native cultures. Among obsidian tools and ceramics, standout exhibits include beautiful Aztatlán pottery and a mammoth skeleton.


Central Market

Officially opened on 5th May 1900 Central Market has been a bustling, hustling and rustling place since.

With over 250 vendors who sell everything from hats, jewellery, clothes, fresh produces and meat.

You can not mss out on a little adventure through here.


Best Tours in Mazatlán:

  1. City Tour: Explore Mazatlán's historic center and learn about the city's rich culture and history.

  2. Boat Tour: Take a tour of the city's harbor and nearby islands, including Isla de la Piedra.

  3. Whale Watching Tour: From December to March, you can take a boat tour to see humpback and gray whales in their natural habitat.

  4. Tequila Tasting Tour: Take a tour of a local tequila distillery and learn about the history and production of this iconic Mexican drink.

  5. Culinary Tour: Explore the city's culinary scene and sample traditional dishes at some of Mazatlán's best restaurants.


Favourite eats and drinks

As stated previously Mazatlan is a fishing port and one of the biggest in the Americas, so there is without a doubt that you will find some of the best food the ocean has to offer right here. Along with the amazing seafood that can be found everywhere is the array of bars, nightclubs, restaurants and venders all over the place so you could spend two weeks here having breakfast, lunch and dinner in a different spot for each meal.


F.I.S.H.

I love the place. It has a small, simple and easy menu and the staff are excellent even when they are run off their feet. Thursday night is a winner so book a table in advance. It is my favourite spot in the golden zone and is a must.


Joes Oyster Bar

Probably the most famous open air bar on the beach. If you are looking for a good start to a party and really want to mingle then this is a must go to. Loud, fun and always a fun night.


Vista Palma

A trendy bar with a rooftop terrace and beautiful views, great music and no doubt a fun night for everyone who enters.


El Presidio

A historic bar with a beautiful courtyard and great drinks.


Tres Islas

Serving the best craft beers in Mazatlan without a doubt. In the first minute of my arrival here I received a t-shirt and a tour of the micro brewery, be friendly and ask questions. I fell in love with this place, cozy, cute and simple.


Valatinos Bora Bora

During the day walking along the Malecon you will no doubt take some shots of this elegant white structure where Valentinos rests quietly. When the sun goes down and the dark of the night arrives this complex takes on a whole different personality. Big strobes lights, loud music and a bustling atmosphere, it is Mazatlan most famous night club.


Tacos Martins

There maybe disputes here, but personally this is hands down the best place to go for tacos.

I have nothing else to say.


Top 10 bars and restaurants:

  1. Casa 46 - this restaurant offers a unique dining experience, with a focus on fresh ingredients and inventive flavor combinations. The restaurant also offers an extensive selection of wine and cocktails.

  2. Pedro y Lola - a local favorite, Pedro y Lola offers traditional Mexican cuisine in a charming and lively atmosphere. The restaurant also features live music and entertainment.

  3. Pancho's - this bar and restaurant has a fun and lively atmosphere, with great drinks and delicious Mexican cuisine. The outdoor patio is a great place to enjoy a margarita and watch the sunset.

  4. Topolo - this upscale restaurant offers contemporary Mexican cuisine, with a focus on fresh and local ingredients. The restaurant also offers a great selection of tequila and mezcal.

  5. Los Arcos - a local institution, Los Arcos is known for its seafood and traditional Mexican dishes. The restaurant also offers a lively atmosphere and great service.

  6. Joe's Oyster Bar - this beachfront bar is a favorite among locals and tourists alike, with great drinks and a party atmosphere. The bar also features live music and entertainment.

  7. La Fábula - this restaurant offers a unique dining experience, with a focus on local ingredients and traditional Mexican flavors. The restaurant also features a beautiful outdoor patio.

  8. Diego's Beach House - this beachfront bar offers a fun and lively atmosphere, with great cocktails and a party vibe. The bar also features live music and entertainment.

  9. Mariscos La Costa - this seafood restaurant is a local favorite, offering fresh and delicious dishes at reasonable prices. The restaurant also features a laid-back atmosphere and great service.

  10. La Bohemia - this bar and restaurant offers a fun and eclectic atmosphere, with great drinks and delicious Mexican cuisine. The restaurant also features live music and entertainment.

These bars and restaurants offer a great variety of dining experiences, from upscale contemporary Mexican cuisine to traditional local favorites. No matter what you're in the mood for, there's sure to be something on this list that will satisfy your cravings.


Beaches:

Mazatlán is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in Mexico. From the popular and lively Playa Brujas to the more secluded and peaceful Playa Olas Altas, there's a beach for everyone. Playa Norte and Playa Sabalo are also popular spots, known for their soft sand and crystal-clear waters. And if you're looking for something a little more off the beaten path, check out Playa Cerritos, where you can soak up the sun and enjoy a delicious meal at one of the beachside restaurants.


Best Beaches in Mazatlán:

  1. Playa Norte: Located in the heart of the city, Playa Norte is one of the most popular beaches in Mazatlán. It features calm waters and stunning sunsets.

  2. Playa Brujas: A secluded beach located north of Mazatlán, Playa Brujas is the perfect spot for a peaceful day in the sun.

  3. Isla de la Piedra: Just off the coast of Mazatlán, Isla de la Piedra is a beautiful island with several beaches to explore.

  4. Playa Olas Altas: This beach is popular among surfers and bodyboarders due to its consistent waves.

  5. Cerritos Beach: Located a short drive north of Mazatlán, Cerritos Beach is a great spot for swimming, surfing, and relaxing.

  6. Playa Sabalo: This beach is known for its calm waters and is popular among families with children.

  7. Playa Las Gaviotas: This beach is located near the marina and is known for its crystal-clear waters and soft sand.

  8. Playa Los Pinos: A secluded beach located south of Mazatlán, Playa Los Pinos is a great spot for a quiet day in the sun.

  9. Playa Camarón Sábalo: This beach is popular among locals and is a great spot for swimming and sunbathing.

  10. Playa El Delfín: Located near the aquarium, Playa El Delfín is a great spot for swimming and snorkeling.


Honourable Mentions:

Aquatic Park Mazagua - Defintaly worth a day trip here and lots of fun for families and groups. Great shoots, slides and pools, but be carful shooting down the big white slide, both scary and dangerous.


Isla de la Piedra - Not actually an island, but with its smooth long coastline and with palm trees dotted along this region of Mazatlan it does make you feel like you have just been transported to the middle of the Pacific.

Bring a sleeping bag, a bottle of rum or your logo mats and be transported to island life.


Deer Island - Get an Echo-tour day trip and enjoy snorkelling, kayaking and hiking in this beautify nature hotspot, and if you feel brave enough take an ice bucket on a paddle board over the waves to get there. Gorgeous.


Surf Spots

Mazatlán is also known for its great surf spots. Playa Brujas is a popular spot for beginners, with consistent waves and a sandy bottom. More experienced surfers will want to check out Playa Los Pinos or Playa Camarón, both of which offer bigger waves and more challenging conditions. And for those who want to get away from the crowds, head south to the town of Cerritos, where you'll find a beautiful beach with excellent surf breaks.


Fun Fact

Mazatlán is a Nahuatl word meaning "place of the deer." The city was started in 1531. By the mid-1800s a large group of immigrants had arrived from Germany and also started the Pacifico Brewery on March 14, 1900.


Final Thoughts

As a solo traveler, I've always found Mazatlán to be a welcoming and friendly destination. Whether you're looking to relax on the beach, explore the city's rich history and culture, or catch some waves, there's something here for everyone. And with its delicious food, vibrant nightlife, and stunning natural beauty, Mazatlán truly has it all. So if you're looking for your next adventure, I highly recommend adding Mazatlán to your list. Mazatlan is an ideal place to live and should be considered a great place to also retire.

Whether you are looking for a family vacation or go at it alone I totally recommend forgetting what you see on TV or in the movies and just get there.



Peace, love and travel xx


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