A colonial city with a rich history, Mazatlán has brightly painted buildings in the old town, 17 miles of sandy beaches, and some of the best sportfishing around. From the cruise port you can follow a painted blue line straight to the historical district, or book an excursion to the more modern Zona Dorada.
What We Love
Sightseeing: A hop-on/hop-off tour bus can show you all the sights, but a more interesting and personal option is to tour via open-air taxi. For around $20, have a local show you the sights, complete with personal anecdotes. For a bird's-eye view of the city itself — and attractive vistas of the Pacific — hike to the iconic El Faro lighthouse, the highest in the Americas.
The Weather: The tropical climate in this coastal oasis leads to beautiful days throughout the year. Visitors can take advantage of all the Pacific has to offer: deep-sea fishing, whale watching, surfing, scuba diving, and, of course, sunbathing.
Best Known For
Cliff Divers: From atop one of several stone perches at El Clavadista, local men put on a show and dive from a nearly 50-foot-high platform into the rocky Pacific. A years-long tradition that stems from a man showing off for his lady (or so the story goes), it’s a sight to see. Don’t forget to tip.
Diverse Dining: You won’t go hungry in Mazatlán. Locals crowd the small stalls inside the central market for fresh produce and home-cooked staples. Craving something less traditional? Head to Delirium, a taco shop housed in an art gallery in the colonial city center, where you can order from a menu of a dozen or more inventive tacos.
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Who It's Best For
Sun Worshippers: From the rocky Pacific beaches on the malecón to the touristy stretch of sand that is the Golden Zone, beachgoers won’t be disappointed. Grab a day pass to one of the area's many top resorts or for a quieter vibe take a short boat ride to Stone Island or visit Deer Island via kayak.
Artists and Art Lovers: The colorful and charming Centro Historico is lined with restored shops, cafés, and houses that take you back in time. Galleries, studios, and small museums are a big draw.
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
Crime Concerns: Worries about violence stopped lines from calling on this Sinaloa state port several years ago. Ships have returned and concerns have receded, but officials still advise travelers to exercise caution when visiting.
Beware of Beggars and Peddlers: Not unlike other ports in the Caribbean and on the Mexican Riviera, pushy hawkers come out when cruise ships pull into port.
Kristen Boatright is the New York City-based senior video editor of ShermansCruise.com.