Mazatlan is a beach town on the Pacific coast of Mexico in the state of Sinaloa. This town tends to be slightly less expensive than the more southern resort city of Puerto Vallarta, so you can generally get more for their money. Mazatlan is home to many cultural and historical attractions. And nearby natural areas contain diverse species of wildlife and provide ecotourism opportunities for visitors.
Fishing and tourism support a large part of Mazatlan’s economy. This city is a popular port and destination for several cruise lines. When ships are docked, the beaches and the city can get crowded. Zona Dorada is a popular part of Mazatlan for shopping and spending time on the beach. However, Mazatlan has so much more to offer visitors than the typical beach resort area popular with visiting cruise ship guests. These are some of the top things to do in Mazatlan to experience its beauty and culture.
- Mazatlan, Mexico
- 20 Things To Do In Mazatlan
- 1- Walk along the Malecon
- 2- Explore Plaza Machado
- 3- Go Snorkelling Around Isla de Venados
- 4- Climb To The Lighthouse
- 5- See A Show At Teatro Angela Peralta
- 6- Visit El Quelite
- 7- Surf At Playa Olas Altas
- 8- Visit Stone Island
- 9- Take The Kids To Mazagua Water Park
- 10- Acuario Mazatlan
- 11- Go Whale Watching
- 12- Go SCUBA Diving
- 13- Go Sportfishing
- 14- Go On A Huana Coa Canopy Adventure
- 15- Play Golf At Estrella del Mar
- 16- Catch The Ferry To La Paz
- 17- Watch The Cliff Divers
- 18- Experience Carnaval
- 19- Watch A Baseball Match
- 20- Visit the El Verde Camacho Turtle Sanctuary
- 20 Things To Do In Mazatlan
20 Things To Do In Mazatlan
1- Walk along the Malecon
The Malecon in Mazatlan meanders more than 21 km (13 miles) along one of the longest shorelines in the world.
This wide pathway is perfect for those who want to walk, jog or bike and you can find places to rent bikes along the Malecon.
Wander past cliffs, historical buildings, sculptures, hotels and restaurants, then stop at a beach-side hut for a fresh juice, cold beer or margarita before continuing.
Street vendors sell souvenirs and art along the way.
The Malecon is a vibrant place that visitors should explore during the day and at night.
2- Explore Plaza Machado
The Plaza Machado is in the Centro Historico area of Mazatlan.
This old part of Mazatlan contains many charming buildings with 19th-century architecture.
Local musicians often perform near the wrought-iron gazebo in the park’s centre square.
Surrounded by excellent restaurants, shops, and art galleries, Plaza Machado is at the centre of many of the cultural and historical attractions within the city.
Visitors to this colourful part of the city enjoy exploring the tree-lined streets during the day and at night.
3- Go Snorkelling Around Isla de Venados
Isla de Venados or Deer Island is a small, uninhabited island off the coast of Mazatlan.
Catch a ride with a tour group to spend a day playing on the white-sand beach. Activities include riding banana boats, kayaking and snorkelling.
You can also hike around the island to explore this protected natural area.
Food options are available but limited, and rustic restrooms are available for public use.
This is a popular place for cruise ship excursions, so visitors not with a cruise line may want to avoid visiting when the cruise ships are in port.
4- Climb To The Lighthouse
The El Faro lighthouse is a famous landmark in Mazatlan, built in 1879.
The strenuous hike begins at one end of the Malecon and requires 30 to 45 minutes of steady walking to reach the summit.
It’s best to climb early in the morning or late in the afternoon and carry water because there are no vendors selling refreshments on the hike.
Once at the top, enjoy a spectacular 360-degree view of the surrounding ocean.
The sunset views from this point are especially stunning.
El Faro lighthouse is at Cap. Joel Montes Camarena s/n, Cerro El Crestón, 82000 Mazatlán, Sin.
5- See A Show At Teatro Angela Peralta
The Teatro Angela Peralta or Angela Peralta Theater is a historic building just around the corner from the Plaza Machado.
This theatre was constructed in 1874 and seats more than 800 people for its performances.
Soak in the history of this beautifully restored building and check out the performance schedule online.
The theatre was named for a famous opera singer who died during the yellow fever epidemic less than a decade after it opened.
During the day, tours are available to visitors who want to learn more about the history of this building.
Teatro Angela Peralta is at Carnaval S/N, Centro, 82000 Mazatlán, Sin.
6- Visit El Quelite
The best way to visit El Quelite, a small town an hour’s drive from Mazatlan, is to join an organised tour.
This town lies in the jungle, and you can find wildlife like iguanas and tropical birds everywhere.
The streets are lined with souvenir shops, vendors selling artisanal crafts, and restaurants that serve local food.
Climb the small chapel and explore the traditional Mexican cemetery to get a better feel for the culture and history of the town.
7- Surf At Playa Olas Altas
Playa Olas Altas has a relaxed vibe and is one of the best beaches in Mazatlan for surfing.
Both intermediate and expert surfers enjoy the massive waves usually found here.
The golden sand and bright blue waters are also popular with swimmers who don’t mind the bigger waves.
Playa Olas Altas is the closest beach to Mazatlan’s cruise terminal, so the beach sees more visitors on days that the ships dock.
This beach is easy to find because it is right off the Malecon and a few monuments mark its location.
Outdoor restaurants and street vendors serve seafood and refreshing beverages to hungry visitors while vendors wander down the beach selling souvenirs.
8- Visit Stone Island
Stone Island or Isla de las Piedras is a small peninsula a five-minute boat ride away from Mazatlan.
Even though it doesn’t take long to get there, because this remote peninsula can only be reached by boat, far fewer people find their way to its beaches.
Beachgoers enjoy the wide beach lined with open-air restaurants serving fresh food and beverages.
In addition to swimming and sunbathing, horseback riding, fishing and banana boat rides are popular activities.
Visitors to Stone Island can reach the beach by catching a water taxi or booking a tour with a company.
The water taxi is a far less expensive option for independent travellers comfortable exploring on their own.
9- Take The Kids To Mazagua Water Park
The Mazagua Water Park is a family-friendly destination for children of all ages who want to slide down exciting water slides and play in a giant wave pool.
It’s inexpensive to enter and you can bring your own food and water, making it an affordable water park.
Soft drinks and beer cannot be brought inside but are available to purchase at the concession stand.
Grills in the park are ready to be used by visitors who want to cook their food and enjoy a nice picnic lunch.
This water park is shut most of the winter, so check the opening dates before going.
Mazagua Water Park is at Entronque, Av. Sábalo Cerritos, Sábalo Country, 82110 Mazatlán, Sin.
10- Acuario Mazatlan
The Acuario Mazatlan or Mazatlan Aquarium is one of Mexico’s biggest aquariums.
Because Mazatlan lies at the mouth of the Sea of Cortez, this part of the ocean is well known for its biodiversity.
The aquarium showcases this incredible diversity by displaying more than 250 aquatic animals within the 50 tanks on display.
This building also houses a crocodile and frog exhibit as well as an aviary containing lovebirds and macaws, among others.
Animal shows at the aquarium feature sea lions, birds and divers.
This aquarium also educates people about the conservation efforts they are working on throughout Mexico.
Acuario Mazatlan is at Av. de los Deportes 111, Tellería, 82017 Mazatlán, Sin.
For more adventures in Mexico, read:
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- Where To Stay In Tulum
- 20 National Parks In Mexico
- 20 Day Trips From Mexico City
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- 20 Things To Do In Cancun With Kids
- 20 Things To Do In Mexico City At Night
- 20 Things To Do In La Paz
- 20 Things To Do In Monterrey Mexico
- 20 Things To Do In Acapulco
- 20 Things To Do In Chihuahua
- 20 Things To Do In Puerto Vallarta
- 20 Famous Landmarks in Mexico
- 20 Best Beaches in Mexico
- 20 Ways To Spend Christmas in Mexico
- 10 Things To Do In Baja California
- The Wonder of Chichen Itza
- When Is The Best Time To Visit Mexico?
- A Guide To Las Grutas De Tolantongo
- A Guide To Valle De Bravo
- 20 Best Cenotes In Mexico
- 20 Interesting Mexican Traditions
- 20 Mayan Ruins In Mexico
- 20 Things To Do In Veracruz
- 25 Things To Do In Guadalajara
- 20 Mexican Cocktails and Drinks
- 20 Things To Do In Mazatlan
11- Go Whale Watching
Whale watching draws visitors to Mexico’s West Coast every winter between November and March when the whales migrate along the coast to spend time in the Sea of Cortez.
The humpback whale, famous for its spectacular breaches and leaps out of the water, is the most common whale seen during this annual migration.
To go whale watching, you must book a tour with a certified guide.
The Mexican government highly regulates tourism around whale watching, and boat captains must adhere to the strict rules to protect the whales from injury.
12- Go SCUBA Diving
Mazatlan sits on the coast at the entrance to the World’s Aquarium, which is ocean explorer Jacques Cousteau’s description of the wondrous biodiversity within the Sea of Cortez.
Because of the incredible life found here, Mazatlan offers some excellent diving opportunities.
Luckily for anyone who chooses Mazatlan as their diving destination, the coral reefs do not receive much dive traffic compared to other coastal resort cities.
Mazatlan’s three primary dive sites are Deer Island, Bird Island and Wolf Island, where divers will encounter many fish species and colourful corals.
13- Go Sportfishing
Sportfishing in Mazatlan is a popular activity for visitors to this beach resort town and the fishing industry is important to Mazatlan’s economy.
You can book deep sea fishing and bottom fishing excursions year-round.
The species being fished depends on the season, but popular sportfish species include marlin, sailfish, dorado and swordfish.
Freshwater fishing is also popular.
Anglers can book tours from Mazatlan and fish for trophy largemouth bass at Picachos Dam, only a 45-minute drive inland from the city.
These tours often include food, drinks and all the big bass an angler could ever want to catch.
14- Go On A Huana Coa Canopy Adventure
The Huana Coa Canopy Adventure offers three exciting adventures that begin and end at your hotel.
On the canopy tour, guides take people on a thrilling zipline tour through the trees with spectacular forest views.
After the adventure, you can tour the distillery and taste tequila.
An ATV tour takes you through the town of La Noria and across forested trails and ranches. It includes a trip to a local leather factory for some shopping and a distillery where people can taste tequila.
A kayaking tour along the coast takes visitors to Deer Island, where they can hike and explore. All tours include friendly, knowledgeable guides and you will have the time of your life.
Huana Coa Canopy Adventure is at Habal – La Noria highway Km 45.5
15- Play Golf At Estrella del Mar
The Estrella del Mar golf course is a professionally-rated course designed by Robert Trent Jones, Jr.
Ranked often as one of the best golf courses in Mexico, Estrella del Mar has hosted Canadian, Latinamerica and Mexico PGA Tournament events.
The Pacific Ocean borders six holes in this 18-hole course.
Playing this course is a scenic and challenging experience.
A luxurious hotel with a restaurant serving authentic and delicious Mexican cuisine makes this an easy choice for a vacation destination if golfing is your passion.
Estrella del Mar is at Av Camarón Sábalo 1005, Zona Dorada, 82110 Mazatlán, Sin.
16- Catch The Ferry To La Paz
Mazatlan is located at the mouth of the Sea of Cortez, opposite the city of La Paz on the Baja California Peninsula.
Travellers to Mazatlan can catch the car ferry and travel overnight across the water for 13 hours, arriving in La Paz the following day.
Passengers can book an overnight cabin with bunk beds and a small, private bathroom.
A restaurant on board serves dinner and breakfast, but meal options are limited.
This overnight cruise is not luxurious and travelling with dogs is allowed, but their movement on the ship is restricted.
Despite the inconveniences, this travel route from mainland Mexico to the Baja Peninsula and back is one of the safest ways to travel.
It allows for an easy vacation experience for visitors who want to see as much of Mexico as possible without driving through less safe parts of the country.
17- Watch The Cliff Divers
Off the Malecon in Mazatlan, cliff divers have been performing spectacular dives for audiences since the mid-1900s.
A tall platform, approximately 50 feet high (15 meters), was constructed on top of a rock outcropping.
Divers must time their jumps precisely with the waves because the water here is very shallow until a wave rolls in.
If you want to see the show, walk along the Malecon to El Clavadista at the Explanada Sanchez Taboada Park.
The divers begin diving around noon every day and perform off and on until sunset.
While watching the divers perform is technically free, the divers do walk around collecting donations from the people watching and enjoying the death-defying display.
Sundays are the busiest days, and vendors often sell snacks and beverages at this time.
Carnaval is a week-long celebration occurring in February or early March that is important throughout many countries in Latin and South America.
Rio de Janeiro and New Orleans are the two largest and best-known celebrations.
Mexico hosts hundreds of Carnaval celebrations in communities throughout the country, but the biggest celebrations occur in Mazatlan and Veracruz.
Mazatlan has been celebrating Carnaval for over a hundred years, longer than any other city in the country.
This celebration is full of colour, music, joy, parades, bright costumes and cultural activities.
Mazatlan’s Carnaval experience is typically more family-friendly than the celebrations found in other cities.
19- Watch A Baseball Match
Baseball is a popular professional sport in Mexico, second only to soccer.
Mazatlan is home to one of the best teams in the Mexican Pacific League, the Venados.
The mascot for the Venados is a large deer with antlers, and their team colours are red and white.
The home stadium of the Venados, the Estadio Teodoro Mariscal, seats 14,000 people.
The regular baseball season runs from October through December.
The Venados have won nine Pacific League Championships and two Caribbean World Series.
Baseball fans who visit Mazatlan during the regular season can purchase tickets online and enjoy watching an excellent baseball game.
20- Visit the El Verde Camacho Turtle Sanctuary
The El Verde Camacho Sanctuary is an important turtle sanctuary and breeding centre in Mazatlan.
This conservation area provides the primary nesting habitat in northwestern Mexico for the Olive Ridley, also called Pacific Ridley, sea turtle.
Several community-based tour companies operate guided sea turtle tours to this sanctuary from July through November.
Depending on the timing, baby sea turtles are released by volunteers and guests during this tour.
Outside the turtle nesting season, visitors can take a guided tour through El Verde Camacho and explore the estuary and mangroves by boat or kayak.