Mazatlán’s sandy beaches and colorful old town are just a few of the reasons why this idyllic city on Mexico’s Pacific Coast is known as the “Pearl of the Pacific.” A former magnet for Hollywood stars in the 40s and 50s, Mazatlán has undergone an extensive revitalization in recent years and has once again become one of Mexico’s most sought-out destinations.
Stroll through the cobblestone streets, past picturesque pastel buildings in the historic downtown. Lounge on golden beaches as the Pacific waves lap the shore, and taste some of the best shrimp in the country. On a Mazatlán cruise, you’ll find it impossible not to fall head over heels with this quaint beach town, which has everything you’re looking for in a tropical vacation.
Admire the majestic facade and twin yellow spires of the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, a 19th-century church with touches of Gothic, neoclassical, and Baroque architecture. Tour its intricate marble interior and catch a glimpse of the church’s organ, which was built in Paris by one of the best in the world.
If you want to experience some of the best views of the city during your Mazatlán cruise, take the 45-minute hike up to El Faro, a lighthouse that sits just over 500 feet above sea level. Head there in the afternoon, when it’s not as hot and sunny, and enjoy the sunset in the distance once you reach the top.
Kids and animal lovers will enjoy an afternoon trip to Mazatlán’s local aquarium, one of Mexico’s largest. With over 50 tanks, the Acuario Mazatlán has a variety of species on display, including sharks, jellyfish, and seahorses, as well as entertaining shows that feature friendly sea lions, parrots, and macaws.
Walk along Mazatlán’s sprawling malecón, an expansive boardwalk which runs for 13 miles next to the ocean. Eat tasty treats from food vendors, hop around the area’s bars, and go shopping for gifts and souvenirs in one of its many stores. If you don’t feel like walking, you can also bike or skate down the lengthy waterfront and admire its numerous sculptures, including a bronzed taxi cab and a large statue of a fisherman.
Instead of visiting one of the more crowded beaches in Mazatlán’s Golden Zone, head to the more laid back Playa Olas Altas, a local favorite named after the high waves on its shores. This stretch of sand used to be popular with Old Hollywood stars such as John Wayne and Gary Cooper, and once you lounge on its warm sand, you’ll understand its timeless appeal. If you’re into surfing, squeeze in a stop at Playa Las Brujas, where you are sure to find even bigger waves.
Walk around the streets of Old Mazatlán, the city’s historic center, where you’ll pass by picture-ready pastel houses and restored colonial buildings. There you’ll find a number of shops and restaurants, as well as art galleries and cozy bars. Don’t forget to stop by Teatro Angela Peralta, a restored opera house from the 1860s, which now hosts regular live music performances.
Aside from having the chance to enjoy all of your favorite Mexican staples, including beachside tacos and tequila cocktails, fresh seafood is also a must during your time in the area. Mazatlán is known for being the shrimp capital of the world, and you’ll find these tasty crustaceans everywhere. Order a round of fresh oysters, ceviche, or the catch of the day for lunch. On a hot day, make sure to enjoy a glass of agua de Jamaica, a refreshing drink made from hibiscus flower, and don’t forget to order a Pacifico, a light pilsner-style beer that originated in Mazatlán.
The city of Mazatlán, which means “place of the deer” in Nahuatl, the Aztec language, was claimed by the Spanish in the 1530s. Before the Spanish arrived in Mexico, Mazatlán was inhabited by indigenous people. With an ideal location between the Pacific Ocean and the Sea of Cortez, Mazatlán became a prime port. During the 1800s, a large influx of German immigrants flocked to the area and helped develop the port into a prosperous trading center. After Mexico established its independence in 1821, Mazatlán was named the capital of Sinaloa and continued to thrive as a port city. In the 1940s, after increased infrastructure and development, the city began to attract international tourists. To this day, it remains a popular resort destination in Mexico.Mazatlán Cruise Port Facilities and LocationThe Mazatlán cruise port is located in the city’s commercial port. Once you arrive, there is a free tram that takes you to the cruise terminal, where you’ll find a store, local vendors, and transportation options to the city. Old Mazatlán is just a mile away, and the city’s popular Golden Zone is about four miles away.
The Mazatlán cruise port is located in the city’s commercial port. Once you arrive, there is a free tram that takes you to the cruise terminal, where you’ll find a store, local vendors, and transportation options to the city. Old Mazatlán is just a mile away, and the city’s popular Golden Zone is about four miles away.
There are two ways to get around Mazatlán from the cruise port: either via a taxi cab or the city’s unique pulmonias, which are open-air cars found throughout the city. Prices on pulmonias vary widely, but they are often similar to the fares offered for a taxi ride. Since rates vary, it is smart to agree on a price with the driver before getting in the car.
There are excellent shopping opportunities in Old Mazatlán, where you’ll be able to buy everything from pottery to jewelry and other artisanal items. If you’re looking for a more high-end shopping experience, your best bet is the Golden Zone, where resort hotels and boutique shops line the shore. There is also a souvenir store located within the Mazatlán cruise terminal.
The local currency in Mazatlán is the Mexican peso. Since credit cards are not as widely accepted, you should have Mexican pesos on hand to pay for meals and transportation. You’ll find ATM machines in the cruise terminal, as well as in Old Mazatlán and the Golden Zone. Tipping is common in Mexico, and anything from 10% to 20% should be added for good service.