Pearl of the Pacific - Mazatlan, Sinaloa, Mexico.

Jumping on a plane for my first adventure in Mexico was a crucial stepping stone in my life and not only was it important and enjoyable, it is also where my love affair of Mexico started and continues to influence my everyday life today. As soon as I arrived a huge weight was lifted of my shoulders and I couldn't wait to get stuck into this irresistible and engaging part of the world; and thanks to Salem, Funky Monkey Hostel and everyone I came to meet whilst living in Maza, it is now I place I cherish and will always miss.

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.

Sitting in the taxi on route to my new place of work and looking outside the window my initial image was somewhat like a scene from Terminator II where Arnie and co were driving through this dry and arid part of the of Mexico, I have no idea why this come to mind but it did. Driving down the highway I could feel the cool breeze hitting my face and smell a little hint of the Pacific Ocean. Although I had been to Lima previously and also lived on the coast in Uruguay and Brazil, hitting the Pacific coast in this part of the world filled me with huge excitement and it was hard to contain myself.

Finally arriving at Funky Monkey Hostel after 3 flights and a little taxi drive to the door, it was time to meet the other workers and be shown around. Within the hour and after all the niceties it was time to take a walk around and get the feels for what would become my home for the next 6 months.

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 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.



When in Mazatlán

- Basilica Cathederal of Mazatlan

- Aquatic Park Mazagua

- Plaza Machado

- El Faro Lighthouse

- Museo Arqueologico de Mazatlan

- Acuarro Mazatlan

- Central Market

Restaurants and bars

- F.I.S.H.

- Joes Oyster Bar

- Pancho's

- Barracrudas

- Life en Español

- Tres Islas

- Marina Mia

- Valatinos Bora Bora

- Taqueria los Chiles

- Mr Lionso