Located on the western coastline of Mexico, just south of the Baja Peninsula, the beautiful city of Mazatlán beckons those with an appetite for authenticity and fun. Unlike some more popular tourist destinations such as Puerto Vallarta and Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlán offers visitors a chance to experience a taste of authentic Mexican life and culture. Check out these 7 things to do on your next visit, and enjoy the best of what Mazatlán has to offer!
1. Walk the Malecón
The Malecón is a long, vibrant street that stretches from Olas Altas (high waves, in Spanish) beach at one end of Mazatlán’s waterfront, to the El Cid resort at the other. Along the Malecón, there is a lot to see and do. Take in ocean views from the beautiful beaches (watching the sunset over the gentle waves is particularly enthralling), shop at the many beach-side stalls offering everything from souvenirs to bathing suits and sunglasses, stop in for lunch or dinner at one of the palapas (palm-thatched, open air restaurants right on the beach itself) and enjoy fresh shrimp and other seafood – the options are endless!
2. Check out the Zona Dorada
For those who are in the mood for something a touch more touristy, the Zona Dorada has a lot to offer. From souvenir shops, to the idyllic beachfront, hotels, restaurants, and much more – the Zona Dorada (Golden Zone) has a little bit of everything.
3. Enjoy Banda music on the beach
Mazatlán is the birthplace of Banda music, a style that is beloved in the Sinaloa region. Featuring loud and boisterous contributions from drummers, horns, and guitars, Banda music is something that must be experienced to be appreciated. Banda music can be found at many venues all over the city, but is particularly concentrated in the Zona Dorada along the Malecón. Pull up a beach chair or grab a dancing partner and enjoy the maximalist sonic experience that is Banda!
4. Visit Stone Island
Just across the estuary from Mazatlán itself lies a stretch of beach known as Stone Island. For 35 pesos, catch a small ferry from the fish market in Centro to Stone Island. Once you arrive on the island, walk or take an auriga (an open-backed pickup truck with bench seating) to the beach area. Check out Lety’s, a popular choice for beachside dining on the island. Relax on the sand with a coconut to drink and, once you’re done with the liquid, ask the server to cut up the meat. There is plenty to do in this area, including inflatable banana boat rides (pulled by jet skis), horse riding, swimming, body surfing, etc. Plan to spend an entire day, as there will be plenty to keep you occupied!
5. Hike up to the lighthouse
For those who enjoy beautiful views and don’t mind some aerobic exercise, a hike up to El Faro Lighthouse is a great way to spend part of the day. At 523 feet above sea-level, the hike is moderately intense, but the payoff is infinitely worthwhile. Offering 360 degree views of Mazatlán, Stone Island, and more, don’t miss out on the “highest lighthouse in the Americas.”
6. Visit nearby El Quelite and Los Osuna Tequila Distillery
Just 45 minutes outside of Mazatlán (take an auriga, negotiate with the driver to hire them for the day) lies the enchanting village of El Quelite. Walk down the cobblestone streets where cars and horses navigate around one another, enjoy authentic Mexican architecture and cuisine, and soak in the culture of this historic town. If you have time, take the tour at nearby Los Osuna Tequila distillery. For less than 50 pesos, learn how tequila is made and receive 2 drink tokens to sample the tequila grown and produced at the over 100-year-old facility.
7. Explore the Mercado Pino Suarez
A must-see in Mazatlán is the market place, or mercado. Located in the heart of the Centro district, the Mercado Pino Suarez offers just about everything. Upstairs, you will find a number of restaurants offering delicious fare. On the street level are clothing shops, jewelry vendors, shoe stores, groceries, medicine and supplements, leather goods, and much, much more. Prepare to be approached by vendors while walking through. Prices are generally set, but it’s not uncommon to be offered a better deal upon walking away.
With so much to discover and experience, it is impossible to list all that Mazatlán offers visitors. In order to understand the beauty, authenticity and excitement of this small city, it is essential to experience it firsthand. Whether staying for a night, the weekend, or longer, there is plenty to see and do in charming Mazatlán.