Mazatlan: A Tropical Beach Resort in the Mexican Riviera

Mazatlan is a fascinating option for visitors; its hotel infrastructure along the coast, exquisite gastronomy, regional handicrafts, and variety of entertainment centers have made it one of the most pleasant and attractive tropical destinations in the Mexican Riviera.

Mazatlan: A Tropical Beach Resort in the Mexican Riviera
A façade of a building in the Mazatlán's Historic Center. Photo by Andrea Brambila / Unsplash

Mazatlan is a fascinating option for visitors; its first-class hotel infrastructure along the coast, exquisite gastronomy, regional handicrafts, and variety of entertainment centers, among other elements, have made it one of the most pleasant and attractive tropical destinations on the Mexican Riviera. With a unique combination of sun, sea, history, food, fun, and friendly people, Mazatlan is a great beach resort thanks to the continuous efforts of its entrepreneurs. Their pride is demonstrated in the friendly character of the people of Mazatlan and is reflected in the warmth that makes tourists feel at home.

History of Mazatlán

The name Mazatlán comes etymologically from the Nahuatl "Mazatl", which means place of servants and deer. The first settlers to inhabit the region were migratory indigenous tribes, who, to survive, Mazatlán offered them food through deer hunting and fishing. Later in 1531, crossing the territory from what is now Mexico City, Don Ñuño Beltrán de Guzmán arrived accompanied by an army of men, bringing with him a variety of objects and food to settle in the territory of the Conquest.

With his arrival, Don Ñuño Beltrán and Francisco de Ibarra, who entered through the sierra, in the northern part of the State, founded the towns of the Northeast. The dominant attitude of the conquistadors and their companions provoked discontent among the indigenous people of the region, which led to a battle in which the conquistadors won; considering it a great triumph, they divided up large plots of land and became the first residents of Mazatlán.

The Spaniards originally gave it the name of Islas de Mazatlán, due to the three islands and the three locks found in the area, which were used as a natural navigation point for merchant ships coming from the East and Europe. Englishmen such as Francis Drake and Thomas Cavendish sailed in these waters.

At the beginning of the 17th century, they used the port as a shipping point for gold coins and other valuable products that were extracted in incredible quantities from Rosario and Mazatlan, to export them to Spain, having to sail thousands of nautical miles to Cape Horn and Europe where they sold what they had obtained.

Beautiful Historic Downtown of Mazatlan at night.
Beautiful Historic Downtown of Mazatlan at night. Photo: Conociendo Mazatlán

Mazatlan took a firm step at the beginning of the 19th century when the city began to be populated by Germans, French, Italians, and North Americans who quickly adapted to the environment and formed families that contributed to the development of the port. Good relations with other countries helped in the creation of a diversity of economic activities in the city, as well as fruitful negotiations between the people.

In 1840, there was an increase in the port's activity due to the gold rush in California; adventurers took Mazatlan as a place to rest and this helped improve the port's economy. In 1847, the City experienced an armed invasion from the United States, taking over the port for almost a year, being a representative of the Battle of Alamo. Due to the strength that Mazatlán was acquiring, the powers of the State were installed in the City from 1859 to 1873; later they were transferred to Culiacán where they are currently located.

Despite the effects of the Mexican Revolution, Mazatlan was already a very popular attraction in the 1920s and was a favorite destination for those who traveled by land and for those who enjoyed the comfort and tranquility of the region. In the 1960s, the city boomed with the construction of the Playa Mazatlan Hotel on Gaviotas Beach, which marked the beginning of the Golden Zone, an area that developed by leaps and bounds during the last decades.

Along with the improvement and growth of the airlines, with a larger and more modern airport located 20 minutes south of the city, Mazatlan flourished and became the most attractive place in the Northwest, due to its urban infrastructure and the beauty of its surroundings.


Mazatlan is located in the northwest of the Mexican Republic in the south of the State of Sinaloa. The port combines its beautiful beaches with the colonial centers in the western highlands, giving a beautiful contrast to the different attractions that can be admired in the southern part of Sinaloa.


To get to the city of Mazatlan you only have to decide, since it is a destination of great tourist affluence, it has air routes from the main cities of the country such as Mexico City, Guadalajara, Monterrey, Hermosillo, Tijuana, Ciudad Juarez, among others. Flight times are short and by road, there have been great advances due to the convenience of highways that contribute to a more comfortable trip in less time.

Cloudy days in Mazatlan are perfect for running or walking along the Malecon.
Cloudy days in Mazatlan are perfect for running or walking along the Malecon. Photo: Geovany Aviles

Attractions in Mazatlan

A good choice satisfies the visitor and makes their vacation an event to remember for years to come. Mazatlan has a lot to offer to the visitor, its excellent combination of natural resources and cultural attractions gives the perfect touch to take you to unforgettable moments.

In Mazatlan, there are two areas of great tourist interest: the Golden Zone, located in the northeastern part of the city, which is precisely where the most important hotels and the best beaches are located. In the southern part of the city, we find the civic center where the action and bustle of the municipal market are mixed with the old Mazatlan, being the area that limits the Historic Center, the pride of the people of Mazatlan, where you can appreciate the city in a cultural context of its time, with a neoclassical architecture, whose proportions, volumes, texture, color, and ornamentation are of great cultural richness.

These two zones are connected by the famous Malecon, a beautiful waterfront that borders the Bay of Puerto Viejo with hotels and tourist services at the other end. This avenue frames the beauty of the beaches and waters that bathe the port. The City is unique in Mexico in that it has a 24 km long coastal promenade that includes six beaches, not counting the quiet beaches to the north and south of the City limits.

El Faro Lighthouse (Cerro del Crestón)

It is located on Crestón Island, next to the sportfishing fleets. It has a height of 157 meters above sea level. It has a range of more than 48 nautical miles, which allows permanent surveillance of the horizon. Conceptualized as the highest natural lighthouse in the world, the house that houses the lighthouse was built during the Porfirian period. With the port works that took place in the 1930s, it ceased to be an island separated from the city, to later be joined by a wide and functional breakwater. It began to function as such in 1571.

The Three Islands

The Three Islands have become a symbol of Mazatlan and are named Isla de Pajaros, Isla de Venados, and Isla de Lobos. The three have quiet beaches of soft sands, where you can spend the day sunbathing and can be reached in small boats, or in the so-called "amphibians", which depart from some areas of the hotel zone. The Isla de Venados (the center) is an ecological center, in which the flora and fauna of the region thrive. Large cave paintings have also been discovered, which have been a real find.

Isla de la Piedra (Stone Island)

The beauty of its beaches, full of coconut trees, has been one of the reasons why this site was chosen to carry out one of the largest tourism developments in the country, known as "Estrella de Mar". It is the ideal place to take the family to enjoy delicious seafood.

Mazatlan Aquarium

It has an approximate variety of 200 different forms and multicolored varieties of marine species from various parts of the world. It is considered one of the best aquariums in Latin America and the largest in Mexico. It has a projection room where you can watch documentaries on various topics. Next to it is the funny Sea Lions Show, the incomparable botanical garden, where you can also admire the huge crocodiles. Hours to the public: from 9:30 to 18:00 hrs.

Puerto Viejo Bay

Mazatlan has so much to offer in terms of beaches and attractions that this beautiful bay is sometimes overlooked. From the hill of the bay, both at night and during the day, there is an extraordinary panoramic view of the city and the bay in particular. In this bay the first explorers arrived, battles against the French and pirates took it as a point of arrival to the port.

The Divers

Near the old Mazatlan following the Malecon and the Paseo Claussen, you reach the Glorieta Sanchez Taboada where brave young people perform extremely dangerous dives. The show can be seen during the day and at night when they use torches making the attraction a severe thrill.

San José Church

It is considered the oldest temple in existence in the port. Its construction began in 1835 and finished in 1842. It is located on the slopes of the Cerro dela Nevería in the street d* la Campana, its builders were the Congregation called "Las Carmelitas Descalzas". Its constructions come from the Porfiriato period.

Cathedral Basilica

It was begun in the year 1856, at the initiative of Bishop Pedro Loza y Pardavé, but further events interrupted the work until 1875 when the parish priest Miguel Lacarra was able to resume it for its conclusion in 1899. The temple was consecrated as a Cathedral Basilica in 1937 in honor of the Immaculate Conception. The church has a markedly Gothic influence on the exterior, boasts two slender towers and the interior has three naves topped by two altars, the decor is completely baroque with exuberant tendencies, making it a true mosaic of styles.

Plazuela Machado

Located between Carnaval, Constitución, and Sixto Osuna streets, it bears the name of a Filipino named Juan Nepomuceno Machado, who donated the land now occupied by the plaza, which is the second oldest in the city. It is a carnival center by tradition and the heart of old Mazatlan. Its architecture dates back to the Porfirian era.

Angela Peralta Theater

Located on Carnaval Street, the oldest theater in Mazatlan. Until 1936, it was called Teatro Rubio, later it took the name of Angela Peralta Theater or Cinema, in honor of the famous diva of the same name who died in Mazatlan in 1883. Currently, this beautiful building is and has been the venue for the Cultural Festivals of Sinaloa. Its construction was thanks to the dedication and donations of the local citizens.

Archaeological Museum

It is located at Sixto Osuna 76, near the Olas Altas promenade. This place contributes to the task of making known the historical past; the root of the regional culture gives faith and testimony to the importance and archeological richness that characterizes the cultures that flourished and developed during the Pre-Hispanic era in this region. It is open to the public from 9 to 18 hrs. and the access fee is modest.

Historic Center

Area of Mazatlan where visitors can observe the passage of time as they walk through the streets with buildings from the 19th century. The buildings have a marked Spanish, French and German influence and their facades have recently been restored.

House of Culture

A beautiful structure located in the central area of the Historic Center, it is the venue for cultural events, painting exhibitions, and musical concerts. It is located on Sixto Osuna and Carranza streets, in front of the Archaeological Museum.

March 31st Fort

Located at Paseo Claussen and Las Palmas. It is identified as "La Casa del Marino". It was built in 1892 for the defense of the port. It was anchored with English cannons, which were used to defend Mazatlan at that time.

Municipal Arts Center

It is made up of schools that began to function in 1989 in different locations throughout the city. They work in the reconstructed building of what was the Hotel Iturbide where the diva Angela Peralta died in 1883. In this Municipal Center of Arts classes are given in Plastic Arts (Painting, Sculpture, and Drawing); music, theater; Singing (choir); Literature, and Cinema.

Pergola of the Centennial Promenade

It is located on the watchtower hill, also called "Angela Pergola Peralta". It was built at the end of the last century, for the defense of the port of Mazatlan. One of the three English cannons that defended Mazatlan from foreign invasions was installed here. The pergola was built in 1848.

Local monuments

To the Mazatlecan woman (Paseo Claussen)
Coat of arms of Mazatlan and Sinaloa (Paseo Olas Altas)
To the continuity of life (Paseo Claussen and Av. Zaragoza)
To the fisherman (Av. del Mar and Gutiérrez Nájera)
To the deer (Paseo Olas Altas)
The statues of The Beatles (in Olas Altas)

The "Liverpool Alley" in Mazatlan is a new tourist attraction for visitors.
The "Liverpool Alley" in Mazatlan is a new tourist product that has already become a focus of attraction for domestic and foreign visitors. Photo: Sectur

Sports activities in Mazatlan

A wide range of activities and attractions exist in the vicinity of Mazatlan. A call or a visit to the Office of the General Coordination of Tourism of the State or any Travel Agency is enough to obtain information on what is offered in Mazatlan, either in terms of attractions or tourist services.

Water sports

In Mazatlan, the partying and fun on the beach never ends. For unlimited entertainment under the sun, Mazatlan is the perfect place. With an eagle's eye view, visitors can climb the parachutes and see the city from above. Banana rides are also exciting and groups of up to 10 people are accepted.

Mazatlan has achieved fame for having good waves for surfing. In addition to the national surfing championships that take place every year on the beaches north of the city, international surfing tournaments are also organized.

Access to the Isla de Venados can be done through the "amphibian", which has three daily departures for those who want a beach with a different and special view. The bay tours are excellent by both the Fiesta Yacht and the Catamaran that take you to see the lighthouse caves, the sea lions, and a very particular view of the sea to the city.

You can also rent a yacht or boat to do it yourself. For scuba diving and snorkeling with all the necessary equipment, this service is available at different aquatic centers in town. Want more? Well, you can rent jet skis, sailboats, and boogie rentals, and the recommendation is to go for a swim with the certainty that you will simply enjoy it.


In the Mazatlan area there are excellent golfing facilities; in the golden zone is the El Cid Hotel's "Country Club" golf course; this is currently the largest golf course, with 18 holes. On the way to the airport is the country golf club which offers 9 or 18 hole options at a more moderate price. And the "Estrella de Mar" golf course is located in the urban tourist development of Isla de la Piedra, which offers shuttle service and equipment rental.


A large number of tennis courts exist in several of the local hotels. In some of them, you can even play at night since they are well lit. There are also clubs such as "Gaviotas", "Reforma" and "Britania", among others. The Hotel El Cid complex offers tennis courses for children and young people in the summer.

Volleyball tournaments

Every year during Holy Week, the Beach Volleyball Championship is held at Club Bora Bora. Other hotels such as Playa Mazatlan, Los Sabalos, El Cid, etc. also offer guests the opportunity to practice beach volleyball in their facilities; there is no doubt that this sport is most of the time part of their vacation activities, and playing it in Mazatlan would be unforgettable.

Venados de Mazatlan games can be seen at the Teodoro Mariscal Stadium.
Venados de Mazatlan games can be seen at the Teodoro Mariscal Stadium. Photo: Venados de Mazatlán


The baseball team "Los Venados" of Mazatlan is part of the Mexican Pacific League, which is played from October through January. In this league, you will be able to see many major league stars play since at the end of their season in the United States they are recruited in Mexico to participate in various teams of the Mexican Pacific League. The home of Mazatlan's "Venados" is the Teodoro Mariscal Stadium, a venue for major international events. For ticket purchases during the baseball season, please call 83-30-12.


For a change of pace, this is a great opportunity. Charreadas is a Mexican tradition that is practiced throughout most of the country and is held throughout the year, featuring the best charros of the region performing their suertes with great pride and professionalism. For more information contact the Mazatlan Charro Club at telephone 86-35-10.


The bullfighting season begins every Sunday after Christmas. Tickets can be reserved by calling 84-16-66 and 84-17-77, or by contacting your nearest travel agent.

Where to shop in Mazatlan

The city has three modern shopping centers and the traditional "José Ma. Pino Suárez" market. There is also a commercial zone in the tourist area that meets all the needs and requirements to make Mazatlan a vacation destination.

The shopping is endless; everywhere the Mexican colors captivate the eyes of visitors. The Municipal Market, the Mazatlán Crafts Center, and the Museo de Conchas make it possible to purchase products and handicrafts from all corners of Mexico. All it takes is a little time and a sense of adventure to stroll through Mazatlán's handicraft stores in both the tourist area and downtown.

There have been shopping malls since 1990, especially in the Golden Zone. A huge Walmart/Aurrerá chain store, Sam's Club, began operations to satisfy almost all consumer needs. Product quality continues to improve with the competitiveness demanded by consumers. The prices of crafts and handicrafts are very affordable.

Expert artisans from Sinaloa work in furniture, pottery, and basketry, and the quality of their work can be identified with the same presentation as that of artisans from the rest of the country.

There are a variety of interesting galleries and workshops in Mazatlan for those who wish to obtain original works of art. On some occasions, they may coincide with the arrival of tourists to the port with the opening of an exhibition of paintings, sculptures, or other works of art at the Archaeological Museum, which is usually held every month. Other galleries hold similar events but not with the same frequency.

Most stores in the area remain open to serve customers at convenient hours. In the downtown area of Mazatlan, offices, and stores close at noon.


In Mazatlan, you can feel and experience an ideal atmosphere combining the historical with the modern. The architecture that can be seen in the historic center is of a very 19th-century style that clearly illustrates the culture and traditions of Mexico. The beautiful architecture of the area is a sample of the Old Mexico era. The local infrastructure has continued to grow with new shopping centers, hospitals, and commercial facilities among others. Mazatlan is a place that can be explored for its great natural attractions and fascinating Latin culture.

Mazatlan has a variety of places where you can develop activities in a unique tropical environment, with all the appropriate services for tourists during the year. The city offers a permanent festive atmosphere that can be found in restaurants, show centers, and nightclubs. Traditional festivities such as the International Carnival, which celebrated its first centennial in 1998, the third most important in the world after Rio de Janeiro and New Orleans, as well as the recreational activities during Holy Week, make the port a very special place for fun.

Dancers on stage during the Mazatlan International Carnival.
Dancers on stage during the Mazatlan International Carnival. Photo: Visita Mazatlán

Lodging in Mazatlan

Mazatlan has an excellent hotel infrastructure, offering a wide variety of establishments to meet all kinds of needs. There are all types of rooms to suit any budget, ranging from budget lodging to large hotels that meet all expectations. Finding lodging for tourists in the beautiful port is an easy task.

Thanks to the urban planning that has been applied in Mazatlan, it can be observed that most of the hotels are located on the coastal avenue, which means that most of them have ocean views. Some hotels are not located on the beach, however, the access to the ocean is just a few steps away or just across the avenue that separates the hotel from the beach.

Restaurants in Mazatlan

Mexican food is much more varied than you might imagine, with great influence from the Aztecs and Mayans, who provided the basic origins of corn and beans, Mexican food has become one of the most exquisite in the world. The Spanish conquistadors brought the meat and cheese. The French occupation left its great confectionery and a delicate seasoning for sauces and other dishes. Merchant ships from Europe, Africa, and the Far East introduced spices and coffee.

The great migration that took place during the 20th century to Mexico has given more shape to the cuisine, which is why hamburgers and pizzas arrived in Mexico many years ago. The great variety of Mexican dishes can be enjoyed all over the country, even the same dish is prepared in different ways with different ingredients from one state to another.

In Sinaloa's restaurants, tourists can enjoy the best cuts of meat in the country. Sinaloa is renowned for the quality of its meat and the state is famous for its exquisite seafood, which ranges from typical grilled meats and shrimp to the famous "zarandeado" fish. Another rich typical dishes representative of the state is the chilorio, which consists of shredded pork meat seasoned with spices and spices. The chilorio is used as breakfast and can be ordered in any restaurant in Sinaloa.

The atmosphere in Mazatlan's restaurants varies and caters to all tastes and budgets. You can find outdoor cafes as well as snacking on finely decorated patios and terraces, or have a good time under a ceiling fan enjoying delicious seafood in convivial conversation with friends in a casual atmosphere. Everyone forgets the time when they find themselves enjoying a fabulous meal and good company in such an attractive place.

Eating in Mazatlan is exquisite for your palate. A delicious combination of seafood, and Mexican and international food conquers all tastes. The preference for seafood only increases the great diversity that Mazatlan offers to its visitors. Mazatlan is considered the shrimp capital of Mexico, which is reflected in the menus where the most delicious dishes are listed, whether in cocktails, natural, or cooked with secret recipes. In addition, American cuts, fish, marlin, tacos, tamales, chilorio, and chorizo can be enjoyed anywhere.

Transportation in Mazatlan

Getting from one place to another within Mazatlan is very easy thanks to the variety of means of transportation available. You have the option of taking the new minibusses, cab service from either of the two groups that offer home delivery service and of course the famous "pulmonias" that have become a symbol of the port.

For tourists staying in the golden zone, two bus routes take you to downtown Mazatlan, one of them is "Sábalo Cocos", which is longer but accessible for those who wish to visit shopping centers with convenience stores and clinics both public and private; "Sábalo Centro" gives you a ride all along the coast to the historic center.

The cab service is excellent because they are new models, air-conditioned and have a door-to-door service that with just one call, in a few minutes, they arrive where you are to provide the service. This type of cab can be distinguished by green or red stripes and is called "Ecotaxis". Departures to the airport can be requested preferably from these carriers since they have the concession to provide this service outside the city limits.

There are also vans with specialized guides recognized by the SECTUR authority organization that offer services such as tours of the city and nearby towns, such as Concordia, Cópala, Rosario, and Teacapán.

Car rental agencies are located both at the airport and in Zona Dorada with easily accessible offices, and short-term rentals are also available in Zona Dorada.

All drivers of public transportation services must bring with them a special identification from their Union, with a photograph, so that in case of any inconvenience, the data can be requested and taken for any clarification.

Sightseeing tours in Mazatlan

In Mazatlan, there are several agencies dedicated to tourist tours. The people who work both as tour guides and travel agents offer professional services to make the trip or tour as pleasant as possible, remembering that their clients are vacationers and therefore want to have fun. Most tours offer spectacular panoramas and some exceptional tours for the same cost.

The tour is conducted by a specialized tour guide who shows the regional culture and traditions in an informative and friendly manner. There are tours such as the one in the city that lasts 3 hours and others that go out to other towns that last up to 8 hours with food included.

In Mazatlan's surroundings, you can visit colonial towns with 400 years of culture, history, and traditions, or a tropical environment full of flora and fauna. There are other options available at local travel agencies, which you can find in the lobby of your hotel. Professional staff will give you all the necessary information regarding the tours and attractions that are offered, as well as help you with reservations and transportation from your hotel agency at no extra cost.

Mazatlan serves as a departure point to go to the Islas Marias, a new attraction.
Mazatlan serves as a departure point to go to the Islas Marias, a new attraction. Image: Revista Nexos Turísticos