Mazatlan Travel Guide

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Centrally located on Mexico’s west coast, Mazatlan is truly a hidden gem for tourists. This vibrant city is nestled between the Sierra Madre Occidental Mountains and the shimmering Pacific Ocean, exuding a rugged beauty that is both inviting and authentic.

Mazatlan’s Pacific waters aren’t as clear or warm as Mexico’s Caribbean coastline, but that doesn’t make them less inviting. Overall, Mazatlan tends to offer a less touristy, more genuine experience. Oftentimes, this translates into exceptionally affordable deals on hotels and food.

Whale watchers should keep their gaze firmly affixed to the water. During the winter months, humpback whales can often be spotted off the coast.

Mazatlan is also a foodie’s paradise. The city is filled with delicious and affordable eats. And, as the “Shrimp Capital of Mexico,” it goes without saying that the seafood here is out-of-this-world!

So, if you’re searching for an affordable and authentic Mexican vacation, Mazatlan deserves a spot at the top of your list!

El Cid Marina Beach Hotel – Located near Mazatlan’s famous marina, El Cid Marina Beach offers large suites, a great location, and a price tag that won’t break the bank. Hang out by their spacious pool, catch some rays on the private sand beach, and enjoy spectacular sunset views over the Pacific Ocean. There are two upscale restaurants on the property, and you even have the option of going all-inclusive – which gives you access to 4 specialty restaurants other El Cid hotels in the area. Check rates and availability >>

El Cid El Moro Beach Hotel – This beachfront hotel offers luxury king and double rooms as well as one bedroom suites. Again, you can upgrade to an all-inclusive stay which includes access to the specialty restaurants at their sister hotels. Check rates and availability >>

Holiday Inn Resort – Holiday Inn Resorts tend to offer a ton of value at a very affordable price point. The Holiday Inn Resort Mazatlan is no different. Located on the beach , this 3-star hotel is one of the newest hotels in Mazatlan’s “Golden Zone.” With easy access to everything the Golden Zone has to offer, you’ll get exactly what you expect from a Holiday Inn – nice, clean rooms with no frills and a price you can afford. Check rates and availability >>

🌴🌴🌴 Whale Watching – If you’ve never seen humpback whales in the wild, they are truly an incredible sight to behold! During the winter months, these majestic creatures migrate here to breed. Whale watching tours are an awesome way to get up close and personal with these spectacular beings. If you’re lucky, you’ll also spot dolphins, sea lions, and other types of marine life! Learn more >>

🌴🌴 Malecon de Mazatlan – This gorgeous pedestrian walkway glides gently along the beach, stretching for about 13 miles. It’s the perfect spot to grab a tasty treat while on an afternoon or evening stroll.

🌴🌴 Old Mazatlan – As the historic center of this colonial city, Mazatlan’s Old Town is filled with historic buildings, museums, and art galleries. You’ll also find delicious restaurants, yummy taco stands, and a thriving market area.

🌴🌴 Basilica of the Immaculate Conception – Also known as the Mazatlan Cathedral, this basilica is located in the city’s historic center and serves as the headquarters for the Catholic Diocese of Mazatlan. The beautiful 19th century building is known for it’s beauty – both the interior and exterior – and is free to visit.

Deer Island – The middle island of three, Deer Island sits about a 1.5 miles off the coast. The uninhabited beach makes a relaxing day trip for sunbathers, snorkelers, and kayakers. Book a Deer Island excursion >>

Stone Island – Stone Island, which is actually not an island at all, is another nice spot for an excursion. Lay on the beach or snorkel in the calm waters along this 8.5 mile stretch of Mazatlan. There are dozens of restaurants here as well, making it the perfect spot to spend the day. Browse Stone Island excursions >>

(Key: 🌴🌴🌴=Must See, 🌴🌴=Make an Effort to Visit, 🌴=If You Have Time, None=Worth Mentioning)

Airport – Mazatlan International Airport (MZT) is the main airport hub for Mazatlan. Many major American airlines – including Delta, American Airlines, United, and Alaska Airlines – serve the area with multiple flights per day.

Getting to/from Your Hotel – From MZT, it is about a 30 minute drive to the Golden Zone. To get from the airport to your hotel, you typically have three options:

  1. Book a private transfer (highly recommended). – We always book a private transfer to hotels in Mexico. They are reliable, fast, relatively inexpensive, and comfortable. Find private airport transfers here >>
  2. Utilize a hotel transfer. – Many hotels offer paid or free pickup at the airport. Depending on the service offered, this could mean waiting for and riding with several other groups. It could also mean multiple stops on the way to your hotel, which could result in a long and (sometimes) uncomfortable ride.
  3. Take a taxi.

Getting Around Mazatlan – Although we’ve done it before, we do not recommend renting a car in Mexico. Instead, have your hotel call you a taxi, or you can opt for a guided tour. Mazatlan’s bus system is also an affordable option, but it may not be suitable for all travelers.

Tours and Activities