Warm and beachy Mazatlán is just a hair's breadth south of the Tropic of Cancer. Come soak up some coastal rays, stroll the long malecón (boardwalk) and taste the city's revived cultural offerings. From kitschy souvenir stores to cosmopolitan galleries, Mazatlán is at once touristy and beguiling.
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As well as being a prime resort area, Mazatlán is Mexico's principal Pacific coast port for fishing and trade. It's famous for sport fishing, with thousands of sailfish and marlin tagged and released each year, and is home to Latin America's largest fleet of commercial shrimp vessels.
What To Do
With an excellent location at the confluence of the Sea of Cortez and the Pacific Ocean, Mazatlán is world famous for its sportfishing. The city is also big on watersports. Scuba diving, water-skiing, sailing, parasailing and boogie boarding are all on offer.
What To See
One of Mexico’s largest aquariums has 52 tanks with 250 species of freshwater and saltwater fish and other creatures. Sea lion, diving and bird shows are each presented three times daily.
Isla de la Piedra
Escape artists love Isla de la Piedra, located southeast of Old Mazatlan, for its beautiful, long sandy beach bordered by coconut groves. Anyone with an appetite sings the praises of the simple palapa (thatched-roof shelter) restaurants. Surfers come for the waves, and on Sunday afternoons and holidays the restaurants draw Mexican families. Most other times you'll have the beach to yourself.
The small but absorbing Museo Arqueológico displays pre-Hispanic archeological finds accompanied by fascinating wall texts in Spanish and English.
A short southwesterly walk will bring you to the tree-lined Plazuela Machado. The plaza and surrounding streets are abuzz with art galleries, cafes and restaurants. The center of attention is the Teatro Ángela Peralta, half a block south of the plaza. All kinds of cultural events are staged here.
At Old Mazatlán's center is the soaring 19th-century cathedral with its high yellow twin towers and a dramatic interior.
Teatro Ángela Peralta
To feel the pulse of Mazatlán’s burgeoning culture scene, a night at the Peralta is a must. Built in 1860, the theater was lovingly restored over five years to reopen in 1992. It has an intimate auditorium with three narrow, stacked balconies. Events of all kinds are presented – movies, concerts, opera, theater and more. A kiosk on the walkway out front announces current and upcoming events. The schedule is fullest in November and December during the Festival Cultural Mazatlán.
Mazatlán has one of Mexico's most flamboyant Carnaval celebrations. For the week leading up to Ash Wednesday in February or March, Mazatlán goes on a nonstop partying spree. People from around the country (and beyond) pour in for the music, parades and general revelry. The party ends abruptly on the morning of Ash Wednesday when Roman Catholics go to church to receive ash marks on their foreheads for the first day of Lent.
Torneos de pesca (fishing tournaments) for sailfish, marlin and dorado (dolphinfish) are held in mid-May and mid-November.