Located in the state of Sinaloa, on the Pacific side of Mexico, Mazatlán offers Texas visitors the opportunity to get to know a different side of Mexico. The city, which is the second largest in the state, not only offers a tranquil beach getaway, but outdoor activities, delicious food, as well as history and culture in abundance.
Mazatlán has recently made strides to improve infrastructure both in and out of the Zona Dorada or Golden Zone. State of the art lighting literally puts the spotlight on the Mazatlán Malecon, a beautifully revamped esplanade, and the longest seafront walkway in Mexico, that stretches 13 miles along the largest bay in Mazatlán. Visitors can walk or bike along the seafront and visit beautiful sculptures along the way. The Malecon has vendors of every variety, great people-watching opportunities and even freshly shucked oysters and shrimp to snack on. The historic district of Mazatlán, which is also very walkable, is lively and festive during the day and beautifully lit at night. Full of restaurants and shops, visitors can spend days soaking up everything the city has to offer.
Along with updated infrastructure and revamped hotels, Mazatlán also has one of the most well-regarded aquariums in Latin America. The Acuario Mazatlán, one of the main attractions for the city, has the largest fish tank in Latin America and only houses species found in the Pacific Ocean.
Where to Stay
There are many resorts in the Golden Zone to choose from. I stayed at the beautiful El Cid Marina Beach Hotel. The hotel is all inclusive and, depending on the room level you choose, it will give you access to all the other El Cid properties, as well. The rooms are spacious and the proximity to the tranquil beach cannot be beat. There are two restaurants to choose from on property, as well as a fast-casual beachside restaurant. The service at El Cid is excellent – the staff is very friendly and were so helpful during my visit with everything from changing money to giving directions and suggestions about what to do.
One of the easiest and most enjoyable ways to get around in Mazatlán is by pulmonia. First popularized in the 1960s, pulmonia are the original and most popular form of public transportation in the city. The cars have no doors or windows and a soft top, because the climate is so consistent year-round. I highly recommend this mode of transportation at least once when you visit—it is a great way to really immerse yourself in the sights and sounds of the city.
The islands located close to Mazatlán are worth the day trip to visit. Just a short ferry ride away is Isla de la Piedra (Stone Island) where you can get a great lunch, rest on the beach, enjoy water activities or take a horseback ride to explore the village. Isla de Venados (Deer Island) is an ecological reserve where you can take an eco-tour of the island or go snorkeling in the crystal-clear waters.
If touring the mainland is more your style, there are the lovely historic towns of Concordia, Copala and Malpica to explore. Colonial history, artisans and quaint town squares are some of the things you’ll learn about.
Don’t feel pressure to ever leave the beach, though. The beaches of the Golden Zone are kept very clean and ready for visitors. The sand is soft and, depending on where you are located, the waves are perfect for water activities.
One of the delightful things about Mazatlán is the food, especially if you like shrimp. It is quite possible to have shrimp for breakfast, lunch and dinner in Mazatlán because the shellfish is so plentiful in the waters nearby. This is lucky for anyone who loves fresh ceviche, campechana, shrimp quesadilla, shrimp tacos etc.
If shellfish isn’t your thing, don’t worry – Mazatlán has menus for every pallet. I highly recommend Panamá Restarante y Pasteleria. The restaurant began as a small grocery store and bakery 40 years ago, and has now expanded to be one of the most popular restaurants for breakfast, lunch or dinner. The baked goods are also delicious and fresh, everything from wedding cakes to baked bread can be found at the tasty spot. If you are looking for something a bit more upscale visit Casa 46 in the historic part of the city. The beautiful restaurant is housed in a building with many of the original elements intact and one-of-a-kind art installations. There are great views of the plaza and open-air balcony seating while the menu and wine list are extensive and delicious.
Mazatlán has a little something for everyone. Your vacation itinerary can be full of fun adventures or you can perfect the art of doing nothing on one of the beautiful beaches. Either way, it is a short flight from anywhere in Texas and well worth the trip.
Cover photo courtesy City of Mazatlán
Gabi De la Rosa lives in Houston with her husband and three children. You can usually find her at a great local restaurant or out exploring HTX with her family. Visit her on Instagram @gabioftheroses_htx.