Mazatlan Travel Guide

Known as the “Pacific Pearl,” Mazatlan, Mexico prides itself on being a family oriented vacation destination. The atmosphere of this beautiful beach city is laid-back and a Mazatlan vacation is definitely budget friendly. The area didn’t become a popular tourist attraction until well after the 1960’s, which means it is often less crowded than other tropical Mexican seaports and coastal cities.

What to Do in Mazatlan

mazatlan aquarium

Mazatlan Aquarium

The Mazatlan Aquarium has over 300 aquatic species, various exhibits and a tropical botanical garden. There are also live shows, such as a diving exhibition, a sea lion show, a dolphin show and an exotic birds show.

Ecoaventura

Experience the culture and natural surroundings of Mazatlan in a personal way by booking an Ecoaventura tour. These short camping excursions allow opportunities for white water rafting, kayaking, rock climbing, paragliding, balloon rides and hiking. The possible adventures include Appreciation of Nature, Archaeological Tour, Ecotourism and Soft Adventure. There is something available for everyone.

MazAgua Water Park

The MazAgua Water Park is open from March to December each year, offering a variety of water rides, slides, wave pools and relaxing tube rides that the whole family will enjoy.

mazatlan water sports

Water Sports and Activities

A Mazatlan vacation puts you on one of the largest Pacific seaports, which means there are plenty of opportunities to enjoy the water. Spend the day on the beach, wiggling your toes in the sand, building a sand castle with your kids or splashing in the waves. Rent a boogie board or take surfing lessons through one of the local beach shops. Rent a kayak or small boat and spend the afternoon on the water. You can also take part in a deep sea fishing excursion.

Nightlife

Despite the smaller crowds and family oriented atmosphere, there is still plenty of nightlife activity for college age travelers without a care in the world, or for mom and dad to leave the kids with grandparents and spend an evening out on the town. There are several area bars and clubs, such as Mr. Tony’s, Valentino’s Disco Club and Bora Bora, that maintain a laid back atmosphere to accompany drinks and dancing.

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What to See in Mazatlan

mazatlan museum

Archaeological Museum

This museum provides over 180 relics and displays depicting Mazatlan’s pre-Hispanic roots. The museum prides itself on educating the public, starting with tribes such as the Cahitas, Totorames, Tahues, Xiximes, Acaxes and Tepehuanes and continuing through contemporary Mazatlan.

Lighthouse

There is a beautiful lighthouse located on Creston Island. It is thought to be the second tallest in the world at 500 feet above sea level. The lighthouse may not be available for tours, but it makes for some great pictures.

Angela Peralta Theater

Originally called the Rubio Theater, The Angela Peralta is the oldest theater in Mazatlan. You can see performances of live music, dance, opera or theatrical productions. Earlier arrivals can dine at one of the restaurants in the nearby plaza before enjoying the show. Mazatlan locals are proud of this theater, making it a must see cultural experience.

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Where to Shop and Eat in Mazatlan

mazatlan vacation

Authentic Mexican Food

You can find every type of cuisine in Mazatlan – it’s not all Mexican food. However, no one should enjoy a Mazatlan vacation without experiencing authentic Mexican food. Panama’s receives some of the highest reviews on travel websites and locals even recommend it. Pancho’s By the Beach offers a fantastic view as well as great service.

Other Cuisine Styles

There are several seafood, steak, Italian, American and even Japanese/Sushi restaurants in Mazatlan as well. Villa Italia Restaurante not only offers great pastas, but many enjoy their brick oven pizzas. Many recommend The Place for breakfast dining. Chili Peppers is a great spot to enjoy seafood and watch the sunset. You’ll even find some of the world’s most popular fast food locations such as Burger King, Dairy Queen, McDonald’s and Subway.

Centro Mercado

The central market is where most Mazatlan locals shop for their meat and fresh produce. There are also souvenir items available. It can be very crowded, but is worth experiencing the culture of Mazatlan if you can handle the waves of people. A word of caution, however, the prices in the market go up by about 20 percent on days that cruise ships come into port.

Los Tiangis

Los Tiangis is an open-air, used goods bazaar available every Sunday morning, beginning very early in the day. It is on the Juarez and gives a great opportunity to shop for great bargains as you barter with vendors for a better price.

La Zona Dorado

This shopping area of town offers eclectic vendors you won’t likely find many other places. The Mazatlan Arts and Crafts Center provides a large selection of handcrafted items from all over Mexico. Visit Sea Shell City to select from a variety of handcrafted décor items made entirely of sea shells. Gallery Michael offers beautiful silver jewelry and Tlaquepaque crafts.

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When to Visit Mazatlan

Mazatlan has a tropical climate that transitions from wet to dry over the span of a year. The wet season is July through September and sees an average of 6 to 12 inches of rain each month. During the rest of the year, the average monthly rainfall is less than one inch. It is exceptionally humid in Mazatlan, especially during the rainy season.

The average high temperatures from May to October range from 85 to 92 degrees Fahrenheit, with lows near 70 degrees. Throughout the remaining months in the year (November through April) average highs are near 80 degrees, with lows ranging from 65 to 70 degrees.

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What to Bring to Mazatlan

If you plan to participate in an Ecoaventura, or plan to create your own tropical adventure while visiting Mazatlan, then chances are you’ll need a great pair of tennis shoes or hiking boots and other hiking apparel.

Other recommended items for a family beach vacation include sunscreen, of course, as well as baby powder to help get the sand off, plastic zipping bags to protect your valuables in a wet environment, chargers and extra batteries for electronics and those other backup and handy elements.

Most importantly, don’t forget your passport. While you don’t necessarily need it go on your Mazatlan vacation, the 2007 Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative requires you to have your passport to return to the United States. While other documents are accepted, a passport is the easiest route. Keep in mind, however, that it can take up to three months to obtain a passport if you don’t have a current one (they expire 10 years after being issued for adults and five years after for children), so plan your trip accordingly.

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Local Services in Mazatlan

Mazatlan Services

Mazatlan Services is a local company that strives to make visiting the area easier, especially if you’re not fluent in the language. Among the many services available to tourists are translators and concierge services. Additionally, you can have their personal shoppers pick up groceries to stock the refrigerator in Mazatlan vacation rentals and save on dining expenses. Visit MazatlanServices.com for contact information.

Car Rentals

If you want to rent a car to get around the city, National Car Rentals is available at the airport and in the resorts area called the Golden Zone. There are internet cafes dotting the area and you can mail packages and postcards to loved ones from Mailboxes Etc.

Physical Well-Being

In case of an emergency, Sharp Mazatlan Hospital is available to take care of you and your family. Additionally, if you need to rejuvenate your body, a full range of spa and massage services are available from a couple of local businesses.

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Getting to Mazatlan

By Plane

Flights from Los Angeles, San Francisco, Phoenix, Denver, Chicago, Houston, Seattle and Minneapolis provide service to Gral. Rafael Buelna International Airport (MZT) in Mazatlan. Generally, if you can get a flight to one of these U.S. cities as a layover, then your travel to Mazatlan is quite simple.

Other Modes of Transportation

Mazatlan is a busy Mexican seaport, so you can also reach the city by cruise ship. Greyhound offers bus services from the states to Mexico City, then you can take the Mexican bus system. Be sure to pay the little bit extra for the executive bus service. These buses are air conditioned and offer snacks and on-board movies.

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Why Mazatlan vacation rentals?

Mazatlan vacation rentals are the icing on the cake for a relaxing and laid back stay in this beautiful city. Many of Mazatlan vacation rentals have several rooms and bathrooms, so, rather than staying in a crowded and cramped hotel, the whole family can share the spacious accommodations of a Mazatlan cottage, while still enjoying some privacy and plenty of elbow room. Additionally, there are several possible amenities available with Mazatlan vacation rentals that you likely won’t find in a hotel or resort, such as fully-equipped kitchens, private beach front property, decks overlooking the water, hot tubs, washers and dryers, and private parking.

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