23 Terrific Things to Do in Mazatlan, Mexico | A Gringo’s Guide

Looking for the absolute best things to do in Mazatlan, Mexico?

You’ve come to the perfect place, wey.

After living in lovely Mazatlan for over three months this summer, I wanted to break it down for my fellow travelers.

Gringos.

Vagabonds.

Anybody rolling through Mazatlan and looking for some dope stuff to do.

I’ll never forget the first time I rolled into Mazatlan..

Staying in the stunning Olas Altas barrio.

I marveled at the sunset as I swam in the ocean. Doing my best to body surf the Pacific Ocean waves.

A group of kids were boogie boarding nearby. They started chatting with me, as seeing a gringo frolicking around in the waves wasn’t a common sight.

Or so I assumed.

Then one yelled out a warning:

“Tiburón!”

The kids all started paddling towards the shore as fast as possible. No riding waves. No messing around.

I sure as shit knew what that word meant in Spanish…

“Shark!”

I began swimming as fast as I could towards the shore – just like the kids. Heart racing. Adrenaline through the roof.

My first day swimming in Mazatlan and there was a shark.

Fookin’ great!

I kept my head down until I was only in knee-high water. Swimming without looking around me. Doing my best to get away from the damned shark.

Losing a limb to a shark just wasn’t how I planned to spend my first day in the city. I figured there were better things to do in Mazatlan than go to the hospital.

As I began running in the knee-high water, I turned back to look for the shark.

Only to see half-a-dozen kids doubled over in laughter on their boogie boards.

I’d been got.

The local minions played a joke on the gringo.

Coño!

I couldn’t help but laugh as the anger and adrenaline quickly subsided.

Well played ;(

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23 Terrific Things to Do in Mazatlan, Mexico

Now we’re getting to the good stuff.

The meat and potatoes.

The rice and beans

Or in the case of Mazatlan…

The swordfish tacos and tuna medallions.

But I’ve got some good news and some bad news for you.

The good news?

There’s far better things to do in Mazatlan, Mexico than get tricked by some kids while swimming in the ocean.

Although I’m confident I won’t forget that memory for quite some time now.

The bad news?

If you’re not in love with the beach, there’s many things to do in Mazatlan.

There’s only one reason to come to Mazatlan, Mexico in my mind…

La Playa.

If spending time around the sea is exactly what you want and need on vacation, then this is a damn good city.

For museums, monuments, and more – you’re better off in a different locale.

But enough of me fluff…

Here’s 23 terrific things to do in Mazatlan:

#1. Relax at the Beach

Like I said…

If you’re coming to Mazatlan, expect to spend a whole hell of a lot of time at the beach. That’s the main reason to visit this amazing city.

The Pacific Ocean offers a stunning backdrop to all things Mazatlan.

From the stunning views at Posada Freeman to one of the world’s longest Malecon’s – the sea is everywhere in Mazatlan.

Which means golden-sand beaches can be found all throughout the city.

I spent tons of time at the beach in Mazatlan. From relaxing in the sand to body surfing big waves, I damn near enjoyed every minute of it.

Here’s a few of the best beaches around the city:

  • Zona Dorada: The beaches found in Zona Dorada are stunning. Some of the best kept in the city, as there are many resorts here. You’ll always find light waves here and a good amount of people relaxing on vacation. Surfing can be good near Valentino’s in Zona Dorada.
  • Olas Altas: Small beach in the south of the city near the colonial area. Charming and romantic. Great waves for boogie boarding and more. Sunsets can be otherworldly. Small bars line the beachfront promenade.
  • Playa Marlin: The beaches on the Malecon are referred to as Playa Marlin and Monos Beaches. These beaches are nice and offer great opportunity for exercise. There’s an amazing outdoor gym here, along with a walking and bike path. Smaller waves.
  • Playa Bruja: The biggest waves in Mazatlan can often be found at Playa Bruja. A few surf camps hold fort here – along with a number of resorts and restaurants. Playa Bruja is a bit north of the city.

Olas Altas is a safe area 100%.

#2. Enjoy a Little Rumba

For a smaller city…

The nightlife in Mazatlan truly pops off. I’m talking massive beachfront clubs, high-end discos, and so much more.

If you enjoy a good party, the weekends in Mazatlan will not disappoint.

I crafted a whole guide on Mazatlan nightlife here.

But here’s a few things to keep in mind:

  • Weekend Only: There’s not much going on during the week. Nightlife in Mazatlan is a weekend affair. Why? Because the city fills with tourists from Durango and Culiacan.
  • Oyster Bar FTW: Start at Joe’s Oyster Bar. This should be the first club you step into in Mazatlan. The place is massive, right on the beach in Zona Dorada, and a guaranteed good time.
  • Get Fancy: If you want high-end nightlife, check out Prive in Marina Mazatlan. This was the fanciest place I found in Mazatlan.
  • Nothing Down South: Overall, most of the nightlife is found in the north of the city. Outside of a few bars, the south doesn’t have much going on.

#3. Swim Your Hangover Away

The best thing about partying in Mazatlan?

There’s no such thing as a horrific hangover.

Why?

Because you’re never more than a few blocks away from the beach.

Dive right in and let the Pacific Ocean work its magic. After a 30 minute swim in the ocean, that hangover of yours will be gone.

Your hangover is no match for those powerful Pacific Ocean waves shoving saltwater right into your sinuses time after time.

Downing a Gatorade, swimming in the ocean, and a fat-filled breakfast ensured I never had too bad of a hangover in Mazatlan.

#4. Learn to Surf

The waves in Mazatlan are damn good throughout the year.

While the best surf spots change with the season, you’ll find consistent waves somewhere throughout the city almost every single day.

My buddy even bought a surf board during our time in Mazatlan because of the great surf.

I’m no surfer, but from what I gathered these are two of the hotspots:

  • Playa Bruja
  • Valentino’s in Zona Dorada

For more on surfing in Mazatlan, check out Mazatlan Surf School.

#5. Take in the Sunsets

If your budget can afford it, try to book a hotel room or an Airbnb apartment in Mazatlan with a stunning view.

With miles upon miles of oceanfront property in the city, this shouldn’t be too difficult.

The reason?

Because Mazatlan sunsets are so damn beautiful.

Seriously, whether you’re at the beach or on a balcony, some of my favorites times in Mazatlan were spent unwinding as the sun went down.

Just look at this…

Zona Dorada sunsets.

#6. Hike El Faro

If you’re the active type, Mazatlan has more than just the ocean and the Malecon for ya.

You can also hike El Faro – aka the lighthouse.

The hike to the top of Cerro Crestón takes 30-45 minutes and can be quite the workout. The lighthouse is 160 meters above sea-level and can draw a crowd during certain times.

But…

It’s worth it. Because once you get to the top, you’ll be treat with the best views of Mazatlan you can find. From the beaches to the Pacific Ocean to the colonial downtown area.

Highly recommended if an active vacation is up your alley.

#7. Exercise Along El Malecon

With one of the longest beachfront promenades in all of Latin America, the Malecon in Mazatlan has a lot to offer.

Not only will you find stunning views of the sea, but there’s also great opportunities to exercise.

The Malecon offers a great walking and jogging path – along with a nice bike lane too.

Not only that, there’s an outdoor gym near the south of the city along the Malecon. Locals call is “Monos Beach” and it’s a great place to get a workout in.

Just make sure to go in the morning or at night.

During the day, the sun beats down so hard on the outdoor gym that it’s damn near impossible to get a good workout in without getting fried.

#8. Check Out Deer Island

If you’re staying in Zona Dorada, one of the easiest tours you can take is to Isla de Venados.

Also known as Deer Island…

You simply walk down to the beach and point across the ocean to the island in front of you when talking with a hustler who owns a little catamaran.

You should pay $300-500 Mexican Pesos for a ride over, an hour or two of relaxing on the island, and a ride back.

Highly recommended because it’s fun to ride on the little catamarans and because it’s so easy when staying in Zona Dorada.

#9. Cruise in a Pulmonia

I won’t lie to ya.

One of my favorite things to do in Mazatlan was cruise in a Pulmonia along the Malecon – all while having a drink or three at night.

There’s just something intoxicating about downing a fresh brewski while the ocean breeze hits your face.

But what’s a pulmonia?

Well, that’s a Mazatlan classic.

A special open-air taxi made for cruising along the ocean-front Malecon in Mazatan. Often, these little golf-cart-esque taxis would have impressive sound systems too.

Put down the Uber while in Mazatlan.

You absolutely must take a pulmonia along the Malecon at least a couple times.

MUST in Mazatlan.

#10. Practice Some Spanish

You’ll find English levels to be ok in Mazatlan.

Mas o menos.

This isn’t Barrnaquilla, Colombia or Las Terrenas, Dominican Republic.

Many people in Mazatlan speak some English and have lived in the United States for a bit.

But the majority of people don’t.

A little Spanish will go a long way while visiting or living in Mazatlan.

In fact, I found the locals to have a crisp, clear Spanish that made it fairly easy to understand. Far better than many other places in Latin America.

If you’re planning to spend some time here, then plan to put some effort into your Spanish speaking skill.

The easiest way to do just that?

Start studying with a private tutor online before you arrive.

#11. ATVs on the Beach

Not going to lie…

I had some damn good times in Mazatlan, but not much compared to cruising ATVs on deserted beaches and through mango farms…

As watch dogs chased me and a buddy!

Take about a little adrenaline.

If you’re looking for fast-paced things to do in Mazatlan, then going on an ATV tour should be at the top of the list.

There’s a number of tours and many take you off-road before heading down to cruise along the beach.

ATV tours are certainly a damn good time in Mazatlan.

Pandilleros en Mexico.

#12. Eat @ La Mazatleca

My Brazilian bodybuilding buddy came and visited me in Mazatlan.

Due to his special cocktail of vitamins he took every morning, the dude was eating damn near 8,000 calories a day during his week at the beach.

Where did he eat about half of those calories during his trip?

La Mazatleca.

This beachfront restaurant was my absolute favorite during my stay in Mazatlan.

If you like seafood, you’ll absolute love this spot.

The tuna medallions, swordfish tacos, and tuna ceviche were too die for.

I’m not even a foodie type of dude and I found myself coming back to La Mazatleca multiple times each week while in Mazatlan.

Ceviche!

#13. Go Deep Sea Fishing

Mazatlan, Mexico is a world-renowned deep sea fishing location.

People from around the world come here to catch massive Marlins.

If you’re looking to catch the biggest fish you’ve ever caught in your life, then Mazatlan is the place to do it.

Just don’t be like me.

Don’t forget to take your sea sickness pills before heading out on the boat.

Don’t spend a nice chunk of change to go deep sea fishing in Mazatlan – only to spend the whole day doubled over on the deck of the boat throwing up.

Not fun.

Not recommended.

If you want to go deep sea fishing, head down to Marina Mazatlan and walk around. Try to speak with the boat owners and captains.

Negotiate and plan an excursion with these guys. Look at the boat you’ll be on.

Avoid the tour guides hawking junk excursions in Zona Dorada.

#14. Visit Pubelo Magicos

While Mazatlan almost in the middle of nowhere on the map, there are a few small towns around the city.

If you’ve had enough a beach and are looking to get away from the waves for a day, I’d check out:

Both are small towns within an hour of Mazatlan. I had an Uber take me to each one.

Considered “Pueblo Magicos” here in Mexico, the tiny towns offer a unique ambience, classical architecture, and great food.

The altar in Rosario.

#15. Fishing in Teacapan

While my deep sea fishing experience was a disaster in Mazatlan, I had an amazing time fishing the sound in Teacapan.

A small town about two hours south of Mazatlan…

Teacapan doesn’t have a lot going on.

There’s fishing.

And fishing.

That’s truly about it.

But my buddies and I caught damn near a dozen fish while in Teacapan on an eco-tour.

Then the guide cleaned our catch for us and we had a local restaurant cook the stuff up straight from the ocean.

One of the best meals of my life.

If getting off the beaten path in Sinaloa is something you’re up for, then Teacapan is worth the trip.

In dem’ guts!

#16. Get Fresh with Primo

One of my biggest pet peeves when traveling?

Getting a shitty haircut.

My first haircut in Mazatlan was absolute dogshit.

I looked like a leper.

So before my next cut, I went online and did some digging. Eventually, I found Primo’s Barbershop on Instagram.

Suffice to say…

I didn’t look for another barber in Mazatlan.

If you’re a man looking for a haircut in Mazatlan, just head to Primo’s.

Ask for Primo himself.

He speaks English and does a damn good job. Highly recommended.

#17. Colonial Plazuela Machado

One of the most “romantic” parts of Mazatlan?

That’d be Plazuela Machado near Olas Altas beach.

The colonial architecture surrounded by dozens of great restaurants ensures a lovely scene.

If you want to unwind during the evening in Mazatlan, there’s no better place than Plazuela Machado down south.

The people watching is fantastic, especially when the “snowbirds” from Canada are in town. On weekend nights, this place tends to fill up fast.

#18. Stop By Stone Island

The biggest tourist trap in all of Mazatlan?

Taking a tour of Stone Island – aka Isla de Pierda.

The hustlers in Mazatlan funnel people onto this strip of sand, which isn’t even an island by the way, each and every damn day.

It’s a racket, especially considering the beaches on Stone Island aren’t anything special compared to Olas Altas or Zona Dorada.

Hell, they’re worse.

But you can get to Stone Island by taking a water taxi from the Mazatlan port in the south for like $30 Mexican Pesos.

The only redeeming quality?

The beach life on Stone Island can be fun on the weekends.

If you’re looking to party a bit on the beach, then this might be the best spot in Mazatlan – simply because there’s more people here than anywhere else in the city.

#19. Visit the Local Market

If you’re in the centro of Mazatlan, then make sure to check out some of the local markets.

Why?

Because of the dirt cheap fresh seafood.

Oh, and the fresh produce isn’t too shabby either.

If you’re coming from the west, you’ll be absolutely amazed how cheap fresh seafood is. I’m talking pennies on the dollar back home.

I continually visited the central market in the centro just to get dirt cheap fresh, never frozen tuna medallions.

#20. Marvel at the Cliff Divers

Near Olas Altas beach in the south of Mazatlan, you’ll find a unique site.

Just north of the barrio, there’s a little oceanside park along the Malecon called Parque Glorieta Rodolfo Sanchez Taboada,

During most evenings with a decent swell, you’ll find cliff divers jumping into the ocean for dozens of meters above.

It’s quite a site to behold – if you get a chance to see it.

Make sure to tip if you end up watching. And don’t worry – someone will certainly come around asking.

#21. Check Out the Aquarium

Acuario Mazatlan is fine and dandy.

It’s nothing special, but if it’s a rainy day in Mazatlan and you have nothing to do…

Well, it’s worth checking out.

Or if you have a sunburn and need to get out of the sun.

But personally, I wouldn’t pass up any beach time to visit though.

#22. Watch a Baseball Game

You’ll see stores for the Venados baseball team all over Mazatlan.

Hell, there’s almost as many of them as the Senor Frogs stores that line every damn street in Mazatlan.

I legit thought they were a money laundering operation for the cartels when I began noticing how many of them there were and how little foot traffic they got.

But…

Apparently baseball is big in Mazatlan.

I wasn’t in the city during the season, which I believe is October through February.

But if you’re in town during the season, I’ve heard the games can be a damn good time.

I plan to check one out on my next trip to Mazatlan.

Te lo juro.

#23. Experience Carnival in Mazatlan

Last but certainly not least…

Mazatlan apparently holds the absolute best Carnival celebration in all of Mexico.

A country of nearly 130 million people!

Suffice to say, the celebration during Carnival in Mazatlan has to be one hell of a time.

If you’re looking to let loose while at the beach, then coming down to Mazatlan during the Carnival celebrations has to be insane.

Just expected for everything to be insanely packed and prices to be through the fookin’ roof!

Not Carnival.


Things to Do in Mazatlan, Mexico | A Gringo’s Guide

Oyyeee…

That’s about it, wey.

Some of the best damn things to do in Mazatlan, Mexico for my fellow travelers and digital expats.

If you love the beach, then ole’ Mazatlan might be one of your favorite cities in Mexico. The place certainly offers natural beauty and charms.

But for people who aren’t in love with la playa

Mazatlan may not keep you entertained for too long.

As a beach addict, I fell in love with Mazatlan and will be going back sooner than later. If you’re like me, I have a feeling you enjoy the place too.

P.S: Just make sure to brush up on your Spanish before you arrive!

Mazatlan at night.

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Jake D

Travel junkie turned blogger. Location independent. From the Midwest, but often based in Latin America. Big on beaches, rumba, and rum. Addicted to the gym. Committed to showing a different style of travel - one that involves actually interacting with locals and exploring different cultures.

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