Mazatlán, the "Pearl of the Pacific," has drawn people to its shores since pre-Columbian times thanks to its gorgeous beaches. Add an architecturally outstanding old town, the festive, hotel-lined Golden Zone, and top-notch shopping, dining, and nightlife, and it's no wonder that this is a heavily trafficked cruise stop. This is Mexico's largest commercial port, so even the largest boats can pull right in.
How to Get to Mazatlán
The enormous port is less than two kilometers (about one mile) away from Old Mazatlán, the historic old town. You can walk there along the scenic seaside malecón, or paved oceanfront walk, one of the longest in the world, or even continue the 7km (4mi) to the hotel-lined Zona Dorada, or Gold Zone. Inexpensive taxis wait at the port—as do pulmonías, topless, fiberglass taxis that are cheaper but sometimes targeted by thieves; keep valuables close by.
One Day in Mazatlán
Mazatlán's exceptional beaches are its claim to fame, and not just the touristy stretches of sand in town where you can surf, tan, or see the cliff divers. More adventurous travelers will find other, less crowded beaches accessible by taxi.
If you'd rather see what lies beneath the sea, head into the city proper for the Mazatlán Aquarium. Others can explore the beautiful city center, including Plazuela Machado and the Moorish-style basilica, just two of Mazatlán's architectural gems. Shoppers will find just about any Mexican handicraft, including fine silver jewelry, at Mercado Pino Suarez and scores of slightly pricier Gold Zone shops.
The official language is Spanish, though most people in the tourist areas speak some English. The currency is the Mexican peso, available at several ATMs around Mazatlán, but vendors will happily accept payment in US dollars.