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Are you looking for the best things to do in Mazatlan? You’re in the right place. I’ve spent a lot of time in Mazatlan, and I have the inside scoop on the absolute best experiences this coastal paradise has to offer.
Planning a vacation can be overwhelming. You want to make every moment count, and the last thing you want is to waste your precious vacation time and money on subpar activities.
To help you out, I’ve rounded up the best that Mazatlan has to offer so your vacation will be everything you’re hoping for.
Overview of Mazatlan
Mazatlan, located on the Pacific coast of Mexico, is a city that effortlessly blends sun, sea, and culture. It’s not just your run-of-the-mill beach destination. It’s a place where history meets modernity, and where you can experience true Mexican culture.
Picture miles of golden sandy beaches, the soothing sound of ocean waves, and a beautiful cityscape that’s brimming with energy.
Who Should Visit Mazatlan?
Mazatlan is a destination that caters to a diverse range of travelers, but it’s especially perfect for:
- Families: If you’re traveling with kids like Maria, Mazatlan offers a fantastic mix of family-friendly activities, from water sports to wildlife encounters.
- Cultural Enthusiasts: History buffs and culture seekers will be enthralled by the city’s historic center, filled with colonial architecture and centuries-old stories.
- Foodies: Mazatlan is a food lover’s paradise. Get ready to savor fresh seafood, authentic Mexican cuisine, and unforgettable street food.
- Adventure Seekers: From surfing to zip-lining, Mazatlan provides plenty of adrenaline-pumping adventures for the thrill-seekers among us.
- Beach Lovers: Of course, if you’re all about the sun and sand, you’ll find some of the most picturesque beaches here, perfect for relaxation or water activities.
Why should you choose Mazatlan for your next vacation? It’s simple:
- Diverse Experiences: Whether you’re into water sports, cultural explorations, or simply lounging on the beach, Mazatlan offers a well-rounded vacation experience.
- Affordability: Mazatlan is one of those rare gems where you can enjoy a luxurious vacation without breaking the bank.
- Safety: Safety is a top concern for travelers, and Mazatlan has a reputation for being a safe destination with friendly locals.
Best Things to Do in Mazatlan
Let’s jump into the best things to do in Mazatlan so you can make the most of your vacation.
1. The Malecón
When in Mazatlan, don’t miss the Malecón. It’s my favorite place to hang out. This 13-mile seaside promenade offers great views, with the ocean on one side and the city on the other.
You can bike, watch street performers, see cool art, and eat local food. It’s ideal for families and sunset lovers. You’ll probably want to return several times during your trip.
2. Plaza Machado
Plaza Machado is a hub of history and culture in Old Mazatlan. The square is surrounded by colorful colonial buildings, creating a charming atmosphere.
Be sure to try some of the Plaza’s restaurants for lunch or dinner. Whether you’re enjoying local cuisine, sipping a drink at a café, or people-watching, Plaza Machado offers a genuine taste of Mazatlan’s culture.
3. Centro Histórico
Centro Histórico, or the Historic Center, is where the city’s rich history and culture come to life. You’ll find historic buildings, narrow streets, and a welcoming atmosphere that invites exploration.
Wandering through Centro Histórico, you’ll stumble upon charming plazas, like Plaza Machado, where locals and visitors gather. The area is also home to significant landmarks, including the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception.
It’s a place to take in the authentic spirit of Mazatlan, enjoy local cuisine, and shop for unique souvenirs.
4. El Faro Lighthouse
Perched on a hill overlooking Mazatlan, El Faro Lighthouse offers majestic panoramic views of the city and the Pacific Ocean.
This lighthouse has stood as a sentinel for decades, guiding ships safely to the harbor. Today, it welcomes visitors who climb its spiral staircase to reach the top. The reward? A stunning view of Mazatlan’s coastline and a perfect backdrop for photos and memories.
5. Basilica of the Immaculate Conception
The Basilica of the Immaculate Conception is a spiritual gem located in Mazatlan’s Centro Histórico. This historic church is a place of serenity and reverence.
Stepping inside, you’ll find a tranquil sanctuary with beautiful architecture and religious artwork. Whether you’re a devout worshipper or just curious about the local culture, a visit here offers a peaceful pause amid the busy city.
6. Mazatlán Aquarium
The Mazatlán Aquarium is a family-friendly attraction that combines education with entertainment. Situated by the sea, it’s a great place to explore marine life and have a fun day out.
Inside the aquarium, you’ll encounter a variety of aquatic creatures, from colorful fish to playful dolphins. It’s an excellent opportunity for kids and adults to learn about marine ecosystems and conservation efforts.
The Mazatlán Aquarium is an educational experience that doesn’t feel like a classroom. If you’re looking for a day of family fun and learning, the Mazatlán Aquarium is a top pick.
7. El Verde Camacho Turtle Sanctuary
El Verde Camacho Turtle Sanctuary is a haven for sea turtles on Mazatlan’s coastline. It’s a place where you can witness the incredible journey of these majestic creatures.
The sanctuary plays a crucial role in turtle conservation efforts. Visitors have the unique opportunity to see baby turtles hatching and watch their release into the ocean. It’s an educational and heartwarming experience for families and nature enthusiasts.
If you’re looking to connect with nature and support conservation initiatives, a visit to El Verde Camacho Turtle Sanctuary is both enlightening and rewarding. It’s a reminder of the importance of protecting our oceans and the incredible wildlife that calls them home.
8. Whales, Dolphins, and More
In Mazatlan, there’s a world of adventure waiting for anyone who wants to get up close and personal with marine life. Several tours offer the chance to see whales, dolphins, sea lions, and more.
These guided excursions take you out to sea, where you can encounter magnificent marine creatures in their natural habitat. From the playful antics of dolphins to the awe-inspiring sightings of humpback whales, these tours provide an incredible opportunity to witness the ocean’s breathtaking spectacle.
9. Beach Day
When people think of Mexican beaches, Mazatlan is often overshadowed by places like Cancun and Cozumel. However, when it comes to soaking up the sun and surf, Mazatlan doesn’t disappoint.
A beach day here is a treat for the senses, and with options like Playa Olas Altas, Cerritos, and Brujas, you’re in for a day of coastal exploration like no other.
Playa Olas Altas: Known as the “Old Town Beach,” Playa Olas Altas is a charming stretch of sand located in Mazatlan’s historic district. You can lounge on the beach, sip on a refreshing coconut drink, and watch the world go by. It’s also great for water activities like surfing and boogie boarding, making it a dynamic beach experience with a dash of local flavor.
Cerritos Beach: If you’re in search of a more tranquil setting, Cerritos Beach is for you. This sandy paradise is less crowded and perfect for a relaxing day by the ocean. It’s known for its gentle waves, ideal for swimming and stand-up paddleboarding.
Brujas Beach: Brujas Beach, or “Witches’ Beach,” is tucked away from the crowds and offers a more secluded escape. This beach is known for its striking rock formations and tide pools. It’s a fantastic spot for snorkeling and exploring marine life in the clear waters.
Mazatlan offers an exciting surfing experience along the Pacific coast. What makes it special? The variety of waves caters to surfers of all levels. Playa Brujas and Playa Cerritos offer gentle waves for beginners, while Olas Altas Beach provides a challenge for the more experienced.
With consistent swells year-round and a thriving local surf culture, Mazatlan is a fantastic destination to catch some waves. Plus, you’ll enjoy stunning ocean views and the iconic El Faro lighthouse as your backdrop.
Mazatlan isn’t just about beaches; it’s also a snorkeler’s paradise. The warm waters of the Pacific Ocean provide excellent visibility for exploring underwater wonders. You’ll encounter coral reefs teeming with marine life, making it an unforgettable experience.
And while Mexico’s Caribbean cities such as Cozumel are renowned for their world-class snorkeling, Mazatlan offers a more tranquil and less crowded option, perfect for those seeking a more intimate connection with the ocean’s beauty.
12. Deep Sea Fishing
Mazatlan is a deep-sea fishing haven that beckons anglers of all levels. With the vast Pacific as your playground, you can expect thrilling catches like marlin, dorado, and tuna.
The city’s charter services provide well-equipped boats and experienced guides, ensuring you have a successful day on the water. It’s a fishing experience that rivals any other, making Mazatlan a top choice if you want to reel in the big ones and create lasting fishing memories.
13. Mazagua Water Park
Mazagua Water Park in Mazatlan is where the fun begins for families and water enthusiasts. Located in the heart of the city, this aquatic wonderland offers a variety of water attractions to keep visitors of all ages entertained.
One of the standout features of Mazagua is its diverse range of water-based activities. Whether you want exciting slides or are simply looking for a leisurely day by the pool, you’ll find something that suits your style.
From thrilling water slides that’ll leave you screaming with joy to tranquil lazy rivers where you can relax and soak up the sun, Mazagua caters to every preference.
14. Scuba Diving
Mazatlan offers an excellent scuba diving experience thanks to its clear waters and diverse marine life.
Here, you can explore coral reefs teeming with marine species like tropical fish, rays, and eels. The warm waters and good visibility make it suitable for both beginners and experienced divers. Mazatlan’s underwater landscape includes caves and rock formations, adding to the adventure.
Compared to the busy dive scene in places like Cancun, Mazatlan’s dive sites are less crowded, allowing for a more personal and peaceful experience. It’s an excellent place to observe marine life and immerse yourself in the underwater world without the crowds.
15. Canopy Adventure
Mazatlan isn’t just about beaches; it’s also a hotspot for adrenaline junkies seeking canopy adventures in the lush tropical forests. Ziplining through the treetops offers a thrilling way to connect with nature and the scenic beauty of the region.
Mazatlan’s canopy tours typically include a series of zip lines, suspension bridges, and platforms, each offering a unique perspective of the jungle below. You’ll soar above the canopy, experiencing the rush of wind and the excitement of being suspended high above the forest floor.
The tours often combine the thrill of ziplining with local cultural elements, such as stops to interact with indigenous communities or learn about the flora and fauna of the region. It’s a blend of adventure and education, making it a memorable experience.
16. Teatro Angela Peralta
Teatro Angela Peralta, located in the heart of Mazatlan’s historic district, is a cultural treasure that adds depth to the city’s vibrant arts scene. This historic theater is a testament to Mazatlan’s commitment to the performing arts and a must-visit for anyone seeking a dose of culture.
Inside the theater, you’ll find a beautifully restored space adorned with elegant architecture and stunning artwork. The venue hosts a wide range of cultural performances, from ballet and opera to concerts and theatrical productions. It’s a place where you can immerse yourself in the world of performing arts and appreciate the local talent that graces its stage.
17. Baseball Game Experiences
For sports enthusiasts and travelers seeking an authentic local experience, attending a baseball game in Mazatlan is a must. Baseball is more than just a sport here. It’s a passion that runs deep.
Mazatlan’s baseball stadium, Estadio Teodoro Mariscal, is where the action unfolds. The atmosphere is electric, with enthusiastic fans filling the stands, waving flags, and cheering for their teams.
Compared to the massive stadiums found in major U.S. cities, Mazatlan’s baseball games offer a more intimate experience. You’ll feel the energy of the crowd, interact with fans, and maybe even catch a foul ball.
It’s a chance to immerse yourself in Mazatlan’s local culture and share in the excitement of a beloved pastime.
18. Carnaval Celebration
Mazatlan’s Carnaval is a celebration that truly defines the city’s spirit of fun, color, and revelry. It’s a vibrant and dazzling event that ranks among the top Carnavals in the world.
This annual extravaganza, often referred to as “The Pearl of the Pacific,” features parades, music, dancing, and elaborate costumes. The entire city comes alive with a contagious energy as locals and tourists join in the festivities.
Compared to other renowned Carnavals, such as Rio de Janeiro, Mazatlan’s Carnaval offers a more accessible and intimate experience. You can get up close to the stunning parade floats, interact with performers, and immerse yourself in the atmosphere without the overwhelming crowds of larger cities.
19. Food Tours
Exploring Mazatlan through a food tour is a culinary adventure. From street vendors to local eateries, the city’s food scene offers a mouthwatering journey through authentic Mexican flavors.
Food tours in Mazatlan often take you to hidden gems and local hotspots, allowing you to sample a variety of dishes, from tacos to fresh seafood. You’ll get to taste the rich and diverse cuisine of Mexico, including the famous Sinaloan dishes that Mazatlan is known for.
20. Baluarte Bridge
A day trip to the Baluarte Bridge is like no other. This massive bridge in northern Mexico stands tall amidst rugged terrain, showcasing both human engineering brilliance and natural beauty.
The journey to the bridge itself offers striking views of the Sierra Madre Occidental’s dramatic landscapes. As you arrive, you’ll be greeted by the impressive span of the bridge, which crosses a deep canyon. It’s a fantastic spot for photographers and nature lovers to capture the wild beauty of northern Mexico.
A day trip to Copala is like stepping back in time. This colonial town in Sinaloa preserves its history and charm, offering a unique escape from the modern world.
As you venture into Copala, you’ll notice its well-preserved colonial architecture and cobblestone streets. It’s a town where the past is very much present, and you can feel the history in the air.
Compared to crowded tourist destinations, Copala provides a quieter and more genuine experience. You can wander through its streets, visit old churches, and chat with friendly locals who are proud of their heritage.
22. El Quelite
A day trip to El Quelite is a window into rural Mexico. This quaint village offers a peaceful break from city life.
As you explore El Quelite, you’ll encounter a slower pace of life, with charming streets and friendly locals. It’s a place to savor authentic Mexican cuisine, like homemade tortillas and regional specialties.
Compared to busy tourist spots, El Quelite provides a more laid-back and genuine experience. You can stroll through the village, visit the local church, and enjoy a leisurely meal at a family-owned restaurant.
23. Island Adventures
Mazatlan’s coastal charm extends to its nearby islands, making day trips to Deer Island and Stone Island an enticing adventure.
Deer Island (Isla de Venados): To reach Deer Island, hop on a boat from Mazatlan’s marina or take a water taxi from Playa Norte. Once there, you can immerse yourself in nature with activities like snorkeling, hiking, and bird watching. The island’s pristine beaches provide a serene spot for relaxation and picnics.
Stone Island (Isla de la Piedra): Stone Island is a quick boat ride from Mazatlan’s Golden Zone. It’s known for its laid-back atmosphere and golden sandy beaches. You can rent a beachfront palapa, enjoy fresh seafood at local restaurants, or embark on a horseback ride along the shore.
Final Thoughts: Things to Do in Mazatlan
Mazatlan is a destination that seamlessly blends the charm of Mexico’s rich culture with the allure of its coastal beauty. From the lively streets of the Historic District to the tranquil beaches and nearby islands, you won’t run out of things to do.
For families, Mazatlan offers a balance of adult and kid-friendly activities, ensuring that everyone can have a memorable vacation. Safety is a top concern, and the city’s warm and welcoming atmosphere provides peace of mind.
Cultural experiences, local cuisine, and a variety of outdoor adventures await you. Whether you’re strolling along the Malecón, savoring street food on a food tour, or immersing yourself in the magic of Carnaval, Mazatlan offers an authentic Mexican experience.
If you’re overwhelmed by trip planning, rest assured that Mazatlan has it all. With its enthusiastic spirit, casual confidence, and a wide array of activities, it’s a destination that welcomes you with open arms and invites you to create lasting memories on the shores of the Pacific.
About the Author:
Sherry Arkfeld is the author of the travel blog, Digital Nomad and a Dog. She focuses on helping other digital nomads and travelers live their best lives. Sherry is living her dream while traveling full-time with her little dog, Shelby, with plans to eventually go pretty much everywhere.
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