Mazatlan Travel Guide

Mazatlan is one of Mexico's premier beach resorts, though it flies somewhat under the radar. Unpretentious and inviting, its scenic beachfront sees lots of foot traffic, and local creatives have taken it upon themselves to restore the tropical neoclassical character of the Centro Historico (Historical Centre). Today, the city recalls some of the allure it held for the entire country in the mid-20th century and is a must for easy-going adventurers.

Fondly called the 'Pearl of the Pacific', Mazatlan boasts Mexico's longest and most gorgeous waterfront promenade, or malecon. This is the city's defining characteristic, and much of Mazatlan's bustling life can be viewed from up here. The colonial old town centre is the heart of Mazatlan, where the busy main plaza, the 19th-century cathedral with its blue and gold motifs, and the open-air market are a hive of activity.

The focus of daytime fun on holiday in Mazatlan is on the tourist beaches of the Golden Zone: Playa Camaron and Playa Gaviotas. Snorkelling is rewarding here too, particularly at Deer Island, as is parasailing, deep-sea fishing and yachting. Horse riding is also popular, but those averse to the saddle can trundle in a donkey cart. Keen golfers can tee off at the magnificent Estrella del Mar 18-hole course.

Shoppers will love the streets of the Golden Zone, where jewellery and designer clothes can be found at tiny boutiques and vast emporiums. The Mazatlan Arts and Crafts Center is a treasure-trove of handmade goods, while the Central Market in Old Mazatlan is filled with busy street food stalls under bright umbrellas in front of little stores selling a hodge-podge of crafts, clothing and novelties. La Gran Plaza on the Avenida de los Deportes is a large shopping mall, which has a supermarket that stocks essentials. Shops generally open from around 10am and stay open until late.

There is a lively nightlife with a plethora of dance, live music and drinking venues, with most found in the Golden Zone. Visitors will find chilled piano playing, lively local mariachi groups and sizzling Latin-style clubs. Those whose tastes cater to things other than dancing will find plenty of sports bars, karaoke spots and breweries in which to enjoy themselves.

The city emanates a combination of laid-back seaside charm and affordable luxury, its beaches lined with bars and outdoor cafes, and the sky above filled with colourful parasails. Sunbathers and hawkers compete for space on the city beaches, and fishing vessels and jet skis circulate in Mazatlan bay.