Let me be the first to say WELCOME to Mazatlán!
It’s so fantastic that your cruise is going to stop here, because Mazatlán really does live up to its nickname of being the ‘Pearl of the Pacific’. Funny enough, Mazatlán is still relatively unknown to many travellers, which makes it more of an authentic and unique experience.
I have curated this amazing list for all the best things to do in Mazatlán on a port day, but first I want to address the elephant in the room. Safety.
Yes, Mazatlán is safe.
Take it from me first hand. As an expat living in Mazatlán I find daily life here extremely safe and secure. I have travelled all over the world, and I chose Mazatlán specifically to be my home, so that should say a lot about the place.
Hmm- how can I put this lightly…the media tends to over-exaggerate things to fuel its own agenda.
Here in Mazatlán you will see locals and expats going about their day, heading off to work and school, running errands, or simply sipping coffee in a plaza, all without worry.
I personally walk around areas in Centro and the Golden Zone alone at night after dinners with friends and have never felt uneasy or unsafe in any way.
I have friends that have relocated here from the United States and Canada, young children in tow, to give them a better quality of life and sense of culture.
To sum it up, Mazatlán is safe and ready for your visit. Practice the normal safety precautions that you would in any city worldwide, including keeping an eye on your belongings, and not flashing around expensive jewelry.
Now let’s get back to making the most of your time on a cruise port day in beautiful Mazatlán!
Layout of Mazatlán
To be super general for the sake of giving you a 10 second introduction to how Mazatlán is laid out, here are the areas you’ll be visiting during your stop. (Everything in these 3 areas will be right beside the coast as well!)
Centro & South Malecon
Golden Zone & North Malecon
Marina / Nuevo Mazatlán
Centro & South Malecon is walkable from the ship. To visit the other areas, you’ll want to jump in a taxi, Uber, or pulmonia. (btw- I have more on ‘how to get around’ at the bottom of this post!)
Top 32 Things
To-Do on a Cruise Stop in Mazatlán
1. Hike El Faro
El Faro is located at the southern tip of the city, very close to the cruise port! ‘Faro’ means ‘lighthouse’ in English and this picturesque hill has the world’s highest natural lighthouse perched atop its peak. The lighthouse was first built in 1879 and is still in operation to this day, sitting 500 ft above sea level.
The views from the top are spectacular! You can literally see the entire city, plus the Sierra Madre mountains in the background, and even your cruise ship back in the harbour. There are lots of opportunities to take beautiful pictures all the way up the hill, including the summit at the top.
Also at the top of El Faro is the new glass floor bridge that extends out from the side of the hill, almost as if it was floating above the sea.
Another main attraction for me, other than the breathtaking views, was all the cats and kittens that live on the hill. They are around every corner and bend, usually napping or sunbathing, or looking for some attention. Expect to see dozens of cute kitties!
Is the hike hard? The hike itself takes around 20-30 minutes depending on your fitness level and I would consider it to be moderately strenuous.
Can I tell you a secret? I really hate exercising, sweating, or anything to do with sports, and I have done this hike 5 times. My first time we had visitors in their late 60’s and early 70’s with us (who are very sporty) and they easily beat me to the top. You can take your time or race up the hill, whatever floats your boat. Half of the hike is a windy gravel trail, while the top half is mostly stairs.
Tip: You should bring your own water, but if you find yourself parched they do sell water and Gatorade at the top. The sun does shine on the trail, so bring a hat. Washrooms are also available at the bottom of the hike.
Cost: free for the hike. 10 pesos for the optional glass bridge ($0.55 USD)
How To Get There: Type ‘El Faro’ into Google Maps or Uber. Your taxi or pulmonia driver will know 100% where to take you.
Walkable from the cruise port.
2. Admire The Cathedral
The Mazatlán Cathedral (formally known as The Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception) is a gorgeous Baroque-Revival style Church in the middle of downtown’s ‘Centro’ area.
Construction started on this church is 1856 but didn’t finish until 1899, due do financial troubles within the church.
The outside is painted a lovely yellow, while the inside is uniquely ornate with chandeliers, wood, marble and gold. Sometimes the church is closed to the public for Catholic weddings, but most of the time you’ll find it open to wander inside.
Tip: A very interesting fact about its history is that the Jewish Community actually stepped in and funded the completion of the church, and in turn had the Star of David put into some of the windows. See if you can find them!
Cost: free. But it’s always appreciated to leave a contribution to the church.
How to get there: Type ‘Mazatlán Cathedral’ into Google Maps or Uber. Walkable from cruise port.
Address: 21 de Marzo, Centro
3. Plaza Republica
This colorful little plaza sits directly across from the towering cathedral, so you can’t miss it.
You’ll find lots of red benches to rest on, shoe shine vendors working on the feet of businessmen, and a few vendors selling treats. This plaza is usually quite shady during the day, which is a nice break for anyone looking to get out of the sun. Plaza Republica is also a great place to meet up with your group if you’ve spilt up to sightsee, as it’s easy to find and quite cool to wait in.
How to get there: Type ‘Plaza República’ into Google Maps or Uber. Walkable from cruise port.
Address: 21 de Marzo, Centro
4. Plaza Machado
A more famous and popular plaza in town is Plaza Machado, the social hub of Mazatlán. In this quaint yet bustling courtyard you’ll find tourists and locals alike, along with many treasured restaurants, shops, vendors and countless events. While many of the activities, events and live music happen after the sun has set, you will still love the energizing vibe around the plaza in the day.
The plaza was first built in 1837 by a rich investor and business man to reflect the wealth of the area at the time. It quickly became a place where locals ‘came to be seen’ and still has that magnetic effect on residents and visitors. People watching while sipping on coffee is one of the best ways to spend time in Plaza Machado.
How to get there: Type ‘Plaza Machado’ into Google Maps or Uber. Walkable from cruise port. (If you ‘follow the blue line’ from the cruise port, you will eventually end up here.)
Address: Av. Constitucion, Centro
5. Tour Angela Peralta Theatre
Since you’ve slowed down time by relaxing in Plaza Machado, you might as well keep living in the past with a visit to the famous Angela Peralta Theatre located just beside the square.
This theatre is a jaw-dropper! I couldn’t believe my eyes the first time I toured through the exquisite building. The tour is only $1, and trust me you will want your camera.
I won’t spoil the history for you here, but just know it has a long and dramatic story filled with hurricanes, floods, and even barely escaping being demolished! The structure you see standing before you has been rebuilt, but some of the elegant features, like the iron railings on the first balcony seats, are original from 1874!
Today the theatre is once again the cultural centre of Mazatlán and puts on shows ranging from Broadway performances, ballets, plays, symphonies, and more.
I recently attended The Nutcracker ballet here and balcony tickets were an unbelievable price of $11.
Cost: 20 pesos per adult ($1 USD)
How to get there: Type ‘Angela Peralta’ into Google Maps or Uber. Walkable from cruise port. (If you ‘follow the blue line’ from the cruise port, you will eventually end up here.)
Address: Plaza Machado & Calle Carnival, Centro
6. Brunch in Centro
Mazatlan is a foodie paradise. There are so many good restaurants here, I always get overwhelmed on choosing where to eat next, especially for brunch.
Mazatleco’s know how to break the fast right!
Down in Centro Historico, which is walkable from the cruise port, you will find TONS of places to have a delectable brunch.
Some of my favorites are:
These places have traditional Mexican breakfast plates like Chilaquiles and Beef Machaca, but you can also expect familiar favorites like stuffed French toast, eggs bene, and almond milk lattes.
Other recently opened places and new favorites include: Cafferium and Maree Crepe.
Cost: 40-200 pesos for coffees or brunch ($2-$11 USD)
How to get there: All four of these recommendations are within a few blocks from each other in Centro. Walkable from cruise port.
Address: Various, Centro
7. Massage at Athina Spa
Athina Spa is the best place in Mazatlan to get a massage! Even if your ship is hosting a spa discount day, Athina should still come at least 50% less in price, but still equal in quality.
Athina Spa is named after the owner Athina who comes from Athens, Greece and brings a chic Mediterranean flare to her spas. There are two locations in the city, one in Centro and another in the Golden Zone. Her spas also do facials, waxing, and mink eyelash extensions.
Cost: 450 pesos for a 1-hour massage ($25 USD)
How to get there: Type ‘Athina SPA Centro’ or ‘Athina SPA Zona Dorada’ into Google Maps or Uber. Centro location is walkable from cruise port.
Address: Calle, Belisario Domínguez 1600, Centro & Playa Gaviotas o, Av. Playa Gaviotas 212, Golden Zone
8. Take Pictures at Angel Flores Street
I joking call this “Instagram Influencer Street” because if the news got out about how cool this street looks in photos, there would be lineups of influencers all waiting for that Insta-worthy shot. You might see a few people snapping pics, but the colorful houses along Angel Flores street are still a considerably well-kept secret.
It’s not possible to walk by and not wonder “What is it like to live in one of these vibrant and charming houses?” It is one of the most noteworthy and remarkable streets in all of Mazatlán, full of splashy color and appeal.
Get your iPhone ready!
How to get there: On Angel Flores street between Plaza Hidalgo and the Malecon. Walkable from cruise port – 1.6km.
Address: Calle Angel Flores, Centro
9. Walk Up and Down the Malecon
The Malecon is simply beautiful and one of the main attractions of the city. It’s similar to a pier or a boardwalk, directly hugging the beach and being around 20km in total distance. It starts in the south end of town at Olas Altas beach (near Centro) and goes up until Valentinos in the Golden Zone.
It is said to be the 2nd longest beachfront walkway in the world and the main stage for many of Mazatlán’s events, like Carnival.
There are lots of things to see and do along the malecon, all at different spots. You’ll find many fountains, monuments, attractions and photo opportunities. In fact, lots of the suggestions I am going to make on this list are near or directly ON the malecon.
You’ll find people walking, jogging or biking up and down the path, people chatting and meeting, and even vendors hawking items. One of my favorite parts of the malecon is that it inhibits any hotels from building directly on the sand, keeping the view and the beach open and available to everyone!
Tip: If you are wondering “Can I walk the entire malecon, start to finish?” the answer is YES! (but it’s far!) We live at the northern end of the malecon and we have seen cruisers mid-afternoon proclaiming they just walked the entire thing.
This will obviously depend on your physical fitness and weather conditions, but yes people have done it. During the heat of the day the malecon doesn’t have much shade, so be prepared.
How to get there: Find the ocean. You can’t miss it. 🙂
10. Ride A Pulmonia (or take a tour in one!)
There is no cooler way to get around Mazatlan than riding in a pulmonia. If you’ve taken one of these open air taxis before, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about. Warm ocean breeze blowing through your hair, loud bass from rhythmic latino music pumping from the speakers, flying down the malecon while watching the sunset. It makes you feel alive.
You can take a pulmonia as a quick ride to a destination, or you can hire one for the entire day!
When you walk out of the cruise port you will see dozens of these all lined up. You can flag one down and hop in! Depending on what you are looking to do, these guys will take you from the cruise port to a certain location, or give you a tour, anywhere from 1 hour to all day.
However, this is a ‘luck of the draw’ way to do it. You might end up with lack-luster pulmonia, or maybe a ‘tour guide’ that speaks no English at all.
(I will also be super honest here… a lot of the drivers at the cruise port will take you on ‘commission runs’ to certain restaurants and jewelry stores in hopes you buy and he gets a commission. While I am all for these hard workers making money, it can take time out of your limited cruise port day and not give you the best impression/experience in Mazatlan.)
Tours/By The Hour:
- Random pulmonia at cruise port: Anywhere from 300-600 pesos / $17 – $32 USD per hour
- Reserved English-speaking driver: 550 pesos / $30 USD per hour (up to 4 people included in that one price)
Rides once in town:
- 60-100 pesos / $4-$6 USD for half the malecon
- 100-150 pesos / $6-$9 for one end of the malecon to the other
- 120-170 pesos / $7-$10 USD to the golden zone from centro
11. Rooftop Of The Best Western Freeman Hotel
I know you don’t need a hotel, as you have to get back to the ship, but this is a stop you shouldn’t miss. The Posada Freeman Hotel (now owned by Best Western) is a landmark building in Mazatlán built back in 1944. It was actually the first ‘high-rise’ in all of north western Mexico.
What makes it so special is its perfect location on the malecon, just outside of Centro Historico. On the very top of the building, there is a rooftop area with a pool, dining tables and bar. Up here you get one of the best views in all of Mazatlan. You can see the ocean, the malecon, and even the city scape. It’s a dream!
Photo Cred: Jamie Lish
Tip: To get to the rooftop take the elevator from the lobby to the top floor, then you will walk up 2 flights of stairs.
Cost: free. Although you should buy a drink from the bar since you soaked up such an amazing view.
How to get there: On the Malecon at Olas Altas beach,. Type ‘Best Western Posada Freeman’ into Uber or Google Maps. Walkable from cruise port – 1.3km.
Address: Paseo Olas Altas 79, Centro
12. Swim at Carpa Olivera
Originally built in 1914, the Carpa Olivera is literally a salt water pool in the ocean! Depending on what time of day it is and the tide levels, you might even see waves refilling the pool as they roll in. The pool’s walls protect you from the waves that can violently crash on rocks in this area, thereby letting you ‘swim in the sea’ without the direct dangers of the sea.
The pool is usually open from 7am daily, unless bad weather dictates otherwise.
2022 Update: The pool has just been renovated by the city and is brand new once again, now in a bright white color.
Tip: If you want to take a swim, there are change rooms and washrooms on site. Be careful, it can be slippery!
How to get there: On the Malecon, just as you walk past the colorful houses on Angel Flores st. Type ‘Carpa Olivera’ into Uber or Google Maps. Walkable from cruise port – 1.7km.
Address: Malecon at Olas Altas, Centro
13. Watch The Cliff Divers
Just 300m up the malecon from the Carpa Olivera pool is the tower where daring divers throw themselves from 50 feet into shallow and rocky waters, just a few feet deep!
These brave cliff divers usually start around noon and go into the night, and get this… they only work for tips! It seems insane because of how dangerous their job is!
Here is how it works: The divers have to time their jumps to the millisecond based on how the waves are coming into the small cove. As a wave comes in, it gives the diver a few extra feet of protection against the sharp rocks, but it’s only a few feet deep to begin with.
No matter how many times I see them dive, I still hold my breathe a little!
Cost: free. But you should make a donation.
How to get there: On the Malecon, 300m north of the Carpa Olivera pool. Type ‘El Clavadista’ into Uber or Google Maps. Possibly walkable from cruise port – 2km.
Address: Malecon at Lomas Linda, Centro
14. Take a Custom Private Tour
Yes, your cruise ship offers some guided and organized tours, but they likely don’t hit many of the good spots on this list. If you want to custom make a private tour with only your favorite picks and without the extras that don’t interest you, make a custom tour.
We use Christian Blancarte of Mazatlan Travel Cub because he has a 17-passenger air-conditioned van, speaks perfect English, and will help cruisers custom make a Mazatlan tour. He will:
- Pick you up directly at the cruise port, steps from the ship
- Work around your cruise ship time limits and make sure you get back stress-free
- Custom build an in city tour, using many stops from this list if you like.
- Can take groups as small as 2 people, or groups as large as 17 in his professionally licensed, air conditioned, tour van
- You can book him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on WhatsApp at +52 669 142 3699
15. Stop For Coffee at Rico’s
Rico’s is a cute cafe that looks out onto the malecon and the ocean. It’s located really close to the above suggestions, so you might already be in the area!
I love going to Rico’s for the frappucinos, the people watching, and of course the CLEAN bathrooms! After walking up and down the malecon all morning, you might need just that.
Cost: couple bucks for a coffee or frappucino
How to get there: It’s just 300m south of the Carpa Olivera (pool in the ocean) Walkable from cruise port – 1.5km.
Address: Paseo Olas Altas #1220, Centro
16. Visit The Aquarium
The Acuario Mazatlán has been welcoming guests since 1980!
In addition to over 200+ species of fish, sharks and sea lions, you can also expect to find: flamingos, parrots, birds of prey, crocodiles and other interesting creatures.
On site they also have an animal hospital with a Stranded Sea Turtle and Marine Mammal Program in effect. Any injured or washed up marine mammal, reptile or bird found in the area gets treated at the Aquariums hospital and eventually integrated back into their natural home.
Construction has already started on the new aquarium that is projected to be one of the 10th biggest in the world!
The Mazatlán aquarium opens at 9:30am every single day, 365 days a year!
Here are the current times for their interactive animal shows:
- Sharks 10:30am & 12:30pm & 3:30pm
- Predators 11:30am & 1:30pm
- Sea Lions 11am & 1pm
- Tropical birds 11:30am & 1:30pm
Cost: 115 pesos for adults ($7 USD), 85 pesos for kids up to 11 ($5 USD).
How to get there: Half way between Centro and Golden Zone. Type ‘Acuario Mazatlán’ into Uber or Google Maps. 5km from cruise port.
Address: Av. de los Deportes 111, Tellería, 82017 Mazatlán, Golden Zone
17. Indulge at the Panama Bakery
Panama is bakery and restaurant from Sinaloa that is locally treasured. It’s kind of like a Denny’s or IHOP, but with a big focus on fresh bakery items, cakes, pies and treats. Let me tell you from personal experience… the pastries and cake slices are to DIE for! Every time we have guests, we have a big tray of Panama treats on the counter to impress them with.
There are 2 locations in Centro and 1 in the Golden Zone that you can easily find.
Try: Pay de guayaba (guava pie), cuerno crema de leche (croissant filled with cream).
Cost: 8 pesos to 45 pesos for bakery items and cake slices. ($0.50 – $2.50 USD)
How to get there: Type ‘Panamá’ into Uber or Google Maps. 2 Centro locations are walkable from cruise port.
Address: 3 various locations in the city. 2 in Centro and 1 on Cameron Sabalo street in the Golden Zone.
18. Take a Photo with the ‘Mazatlán Letters’
There are actually TWO sets of letters in Mazatlán you can take a photo with.
The most popular and known one is at the north start of the malecon in the Golden Zone, beside the iconic ‘Valentinos’ club that looks like a white castle. This set of letters can get busy depending if the sun is out or not.
The second is about mid-way up the malecon, just after centro, in the Playa Norte/Reforma area of town. This one is across the street from the malecon, tucked in a little park area, but still makes for a fab photo. This set of letters is usually less busy as well, which can be easier for photos without other people in them.
How to get there: Both are located in different areas of the malecon. For the Golden Zone location, type ‘Mazatlan sign’ into Google Maps or Uber. For the Centro location, type ‘Letrero De Mazatlán’ into Google Maps or Uber. Centro location is 2.5km from cruise port.
19. Party at Brenster’s Beach Bash
If you are lucky enough to have a port day on Tuesday… then it’s a sign. You need to get to Brenster’s Beach Bash!
This weekly beach party, which has coined the phrase “I Live For Tuesdays”, has become a world-famous attraction in Mazatlán. And for good reason. People of all ages from 4 to 94 come down to meet new friends, listen to some great music, dance in the sand, and just let loose.
Hundreds of fans show up at Diego’s Beach House in the Golden Zone every Tuesday, just to be a part of this unique party on the playa.
I think one of the reasons it’s gotten so popular is because of how non-assuming it is. It’s a come as you are and be who you are kind of place, which has everyone smiling ear to ear. And if you don’t know the host, the ‘Brenster’ himself, you will by the time you leave. He’ll make you feel like a long-lost friend!
Here’s how it works:
You can buy a 340 peso wrist band ($18 USD) that gives you entry to the bash, plus all you can drink! You get live music, dancing, and a beautiful view of the ocean. It opens at 2pm and goes until 6pm, but don’t worry, if you have to leave at 5 to catch your ship, you still would’ve had hours of fun.
TIP: Since it’s a very popular thing to do on Tuesday’s (Oct-May), reservations are highly suggested. It’s easy to do, just send a quick message to the Brenster’s Beach Bash FB Page and he’ll make sure your on the list!
- 340 pesos includes cover charge and all you can drink- beer, shots, blended/mixed drinks ($18 USD)
- 200 pesos includes cover charge and all you can drink, non-alcoholic ($11 USD)
- Or 80 pesos, just cover charge ($4.50 USD)
How to get there: Type ‘Diego’s beach house’ into Uber or Google Maps. 20 min cab ride from cruise port.
Address: La Florida 100, Sábalo Country, Golden Zone
20. Shop and Eat in the Golden Zone
Just beyond the Mazatlán letters at Valentinos, is the heart of the Golden Zone.
Walk up on Av. Playa Gaviotas and you’ll find many shops, restaurants and boutiques with everything from jewelry to art to clothing to food.
We live on this main street, so you might even see us walking around!
There is a huge variety of stores in these few blocks selling everything from $2 souvenir magnets right up to $1000 gold bracelets. Here is where you can shop inside of Senor Frogs or even the Venados store, which sells merchandise from the local baseball team.
Many of the hotels and restaurants on the left-hand side of the street (when facing north) have access to the beach.
What’s for Lunch? If you want Mexican food, eat at Panchos for an ocean front dining experience. If you crave pub/comfort food, try Pinups for the biggest burgers and mozza-sticks you’ve ever seen. And, if you love raw tuna like me, go to Agatha for the BEST tuna and avocado tostada you’ve ever had!
Cost: depends on what you eat/buy
How to get there: Walk there from the Golden Zone ‘Mazatlan Letters’. Or – type ‘Agatha’ into Google Maps or Uber and start walking north from that starting point. 15 min cab ride/7.5km from cruise port.
Address: Ave Playa Gavitoas, Golden Zone
21. Hang out at the Hotel Playa Mazatlán
The Hotel Playa Mazatlán was the very first beach front hotel ever opened in Mazatlán back in 1955 when there was literally nothing but lagoons and trees surrounding it! Now it’s in the heart of the Golden Zone and is the perfect place to hang out all day long.
Even though the hotel is one of the nicest properties in all of Mazatlán, you can have access to it all day with a Day-Pass! (Many cruisers don’t know this secret!)
A Day Pass is cheap and easy to buy in the lobby, which gives you access to:
All 9 pools (some are heated!) 1200 ft of beach front (including chairs and palapas), and all you can eat and drink until 4pm. Including alcohol! The grounds are beautiful, the staff is friendly, and the food is delicious! Who doesn’t like ocean-front dining!?
Tip: For anyone with sensitive stomachs, I highly recommend eating and drinking here! All of the water in the hotel is 4x’s purified and they inspect, wash and disinfect every piece of food, down to individual leaves of lettuce! So, you can have ice in your drinks and not worry about the fruit, veggies, or even seafood at this hotel!
Cost: 500 pesos per ‘All Inclusive’ day pass ($27 USD)
How to get there: Easy to find in the Golden Zone. Type ‘Hotel Playa Mazatlan’ into Google Maps or Uber. 16 min cab ride/8km from cruise port.
Address: Av. Playa Gaviotas 202, Golden Zone
22. Get Botox or Filler
Mazatlán is a HUB for cosmetic medical tourism because the products are equal quality to the states, but the cost is much less. While the cruise ships usually offer discounted rates on botox, it’s still not as cheap as it is in Mazatlán, plus the person injecting these treatments on the ship is not a plastic surgeon or in many cases, even a doctor.
I have no problem sharing that I receive both filler and botox treatments here in Mazatlán. I go to a plastic surgeon at a boutique hospital (that looks more like a spa!) who has over 13 years of education and training. To be frank, these kinds of procedures are too freaking expensive in Canada/US, so I love that I can save a lot of money by doing them here. I probably wouldn’t do them if I had to pay the higher rates ‘back home’.
Cost: Botox and filler costs around 30%-60% less in Mazatlán that it does in Canada or the US! For me personally, it’s 55% less than I would pay ‘back home’ in BC.
23. Head To The Mall(s)
There are two major shopping malls here in Mazatlán. One is located in the Golden Zone, while the other is in the Marina/Nuevo Mazatlán area.
Gran Plaza Mall – Golden Zone area
This mall was first opened in 1991, but has expanded to accommodate more stores and is currently finishing renovating their brand new food court.
This mall is more of a ‘local’ mall, in the sense that most of the clothing stores are small locally owned boutiques and full of bright Mexican fashion. For women’s fashions, expect to see lots of ruffles, sequins, patterns, and sparkles. I am in love with how flashy the clothes are at this mall!
There are also some department stores with more North American style clothes as well.
My favorite stores are: Zona Rosa (women’s fashion) and Sanbourns (a really unique department store!)
Galerias Mall – Marina/Nuevo Mazatlán area
The Galerias mall is the newest shopping centre in Mazatlán and just opened in 2013. This mall has it all! You’ll find popular North American stores like H&M, Aeropostale, Sears and Sketchers, latino brands like Studio F, and lots of delicious places to eat. Also this mall is HUGE on entertainment – there is a virtual reality lounge, a bowling alley, trampoline studio, kids gaming hall, and 2 cinemas.
My favorite stores are: Liverpool (a huge department store) and Studio F (trendy women’s fashion)
Cost: free unless you shop!
- Uber from cruise port to Gran Plaza is around 60 pesos. ($3.50 USD)
- Uber from cruise port to Galerias is around 90 pesos. ($5 USD)
How to get there: Type either ‘Gran Plaza’ or ‘Galerias’ into Google Maps or Uber.
Gran Plaza – Av. Reforma y Apolo S/N, Golden Zone
Galerias – Av del Delfín 6204, Marina/Nuevo Mazatlan
24. Watch a Movie in the VIP Theatre
If the weather is too hot or rainy on your port day, you might want to have a lazy afternoon at the VIP movie theatre called Cinemex ‘Platino’. (It’s located on level 2 of the Galerias Mall.)
Inside the Platino theatre the seats are actually large leather recliners, set up in intimate pairs of two. They each have a swivel table to make eating while reclining easy, and dimly lit lamps. The best part… a call button to have a waiter come to your seat, even mid-film, so you can order food like pizza, beer, wine, popcorn, or even Nutella stuffed waffles!
Tip: It’s COLD inside, but they have clean blankets upon request. And yes, 90% of the movies are in English!
Cost: 120 pesos per VIP ticket ($6.50 USD)
How to get there: Type ‘Galerias’ into Google Maps or Uber. Go to second level and look for the ‘Platino’ sign.
Address: Galerias Mall – Av del Delfín 6204, Marina/Nuevo Mazatlan
25. Visit a Market
Depending on what day your ship comes in, there might be a market or bazaar happening in Mazatlan. Here are the most popular markets:
Pino Suarez Market
Everyday, all year round
This market has been in operation since 1899! Can you believe it!?
Located in Centro, the Pino Suarez market supports both locals and tourists, from everyday grocery purchases to souvenirs. You can find anything from pigs heads to leather sandals, to knick-knacks. Prices for souvenirs are mostly negotiable at this market, so sharpen up your bartering skills!
Address: Mercado Pino Suarez, Melchor Ocampo, Centro
Mazatlan Farmer Market
Saturday’s: 8am – 12pm, November to April
The Mazatlan Famers Market can be found just a few blocks from Pino Suarez market in Plaza Zaragoza.
This is a very popular and special market in town because it’s one of the places you can buy farm direct food that is organic!
Here you will find tons of fresh organic fruit and veggies, vegan friendly food, handmade crafts, essential oils, organic creams, and even chefs cooking up natural and healthy meals.
Mazatlan Farmers Market FB Page
Bazar Market Mazatlan (AKA ‘Cerritos Market’)
Saturday’s: 10am – 1pm, November to March
Every Saturday, just north of the Golden Zone, the Bazar Market Mazatlan is set up from 10am to 1pm, across from Mayan Palace Hotel. Some popular vendors include: Keto and low carb desserts, organic Mexican coffee, custom made cards, gemstones, Ukrainian food, sweet and salty snacks, natural soaps and creams, and art.
Bazar Market Mazatlan FB Page
La Catrina Market
Wednesday’s: 9am-12pm, Novmeber to March
Every Wednesday morning during high season, the restaurant La Catrina hosts a local market in Sabalo Country. (Just a few minutes north of the Golden Zone.)
You’ll find jewelry, leather masks, crafts, baked goods, and fresh meals to go.
Address: La Catrina Restaurant, Av. Camarón sabalo esquina con calle del Delfin Fracc
Juarez Flea Market
Sunday’s: 7am-3pm, all year round
Not for the faint of heart, but quite the experience! This one is off the beaten path, so if you are intimidated by local crowds, you might want to sit this one out. However, if you are looking for a truly authentic experience, this is it! The Juarez Flea Market such a great place to literally buy anything imaginable for rock bottom prices. It’s busy, it’s crowded, it’s memorable.
Address: Enrique Pérez Arce, Benito Juárez
Cost: all free to visit
26. Go Whale Watching
Photo Cred: David Madrigal ‘All Over Mazatlan’
From mid-December until the end of March, majestic humpback whales come to the waters of Mazatlán to breed and have their babies! If you decide to go on a whale watching tour, there is a good chance you will get to have an up-close look at them from beside your boat.
In January I did a whale watching tour with a local company called ‘All Over Mazatlán’ and I highly recommend the experience.
Starting at around 9am, you get a half day tour to go out into the waters surrounding the city in search of beautiful humpbacks. A van picks you up at the cruise port, takes you to the marina where you launch your boat, and sets out for around 3 or so hours.
The tour includes an English-speaking guide, drinks and snacks, and hopefully a close encounter with a whale!
The day I did my tour we also got to see some sea lions sunbathing on rocks, lots of different types of birds, a small rock island with a natural cave formation, and of course the Mazatlan skyline from the waters. Some of my friends who have taken the same tour were also lucky enough to see turtles, manta rays and dolphins!
Cost: 1500 pesos (or around $80 USD) per adult
How to book: You should book an excursion like this ahead of time. They allow booking on their site here
Address: Boulevard Marina Mazatlán #2211, Local 9, Marina/Nuevo Mazatlan
27. Visit Stone Island
Stone Island is a quiet and chill little paradise, just a quick 5 minute ferry from the main land.
Have you ever seen to Sayulita near Puerto Vallarta? If so, Stone Island kind of reminds me of what Sayulita looked like 25 years ago.
It’s a collection of cute beach shacks and restaurants with a few streets of homes (both old and brand new) plus a few RV parks. The beach is long and uninterrupted and there are no high rises or big stores anywhere. It’s truly island vibes.
On the island there are a few places to eat with your toes in the sand. You can also rent ATV’s, banana boats, paddle boards, or go horseback riding.
Tip: Stone Island is great for swimming, especially if you have little cruisers with you! The waves are very soft here.
Cost: 30 pesos for the roundtrip ferry ($1.75 USD)
How to get there: You can easily go on your own from the cruise port. You just walk out onto the main road outside the cruise terminal (Av Emilio Barragan) and head south about 3 or 4 minutes. You will then see a sign saying “Embarcadero Playa Sur” and a little gravel road leading to an orange/yellow building. This is where you buy your round-trip ticket and grab the ferry.
28. Jungle Escape at Stone Island Tour
If you really want to learn more about Stone Island, plus all the surrounding mangroves and harbour, I highly suggest going on the ‘Jungle Escape at Stone Island Tour’
My husband and I personally did this tour with a local company called King David, and we had a blast! We now recommend it to our guest whenever they come visit, because it really is a fun way to spend the day.
I wrote an entire review on the whole experience that you can find HERE, but I’ll also give you the cliff-notes version:
They pick you up at the cruise port, take you to their own launch area, and you board a small tour boat. Next you’ll go through the harbour while learning about the fishing industry, the military base and the coast of Mazatlán. Next the guide will attract some pelicans onto the boat for some close encounters and photos! After that you tour through the gorgeous mangroves (which make for great photo ops!) and then stop in the jungle to see some crocodiles and turtles. Next is a Mexican limo ride through coconut plantations to Stone Island, where you will spend a few hours eating, drinking, swimming, and horseback riding. The tour even includes open bar, upgraded shrimp lunch, and beach activities.
The tour is from 8:30am to 2:30pm
Cost: 1500 pesos per person (around $80 USD)
How to book: You can make a booking request for this tour by calling King David Tours.
Address: They will pick you up, but it’s very close to the cruise port
29. Visit Deer Island
I live in the Golden Zone and the view from my condo is out to the beautiful Deer Island.
This island at one point was believed to had deer living on it, but now all you’ll find is a lot of birds, plus fish in the waters surrounding it!
If you head to the beach around the Holiday Inn hotel, you will find guys with boats that will take you across to the island. You can also rent a kayak to take yourself there, or even hire a guide to take you snorkeling.
We had guests visiting that took a boat over and hikes to the very top of the hill and took some great photos up there!
I haven’t personally gone across, so I can’t confidently recommend anyone or any company just yet, but I will update this blog when I do.
Cost: (so I’ve heard!)
- 100-150 pesos roundtrip ride to the island ($5-$8 USD)
- 400-450 per person for 3 hours kayak, snorkeling and tour guide to the island ($22-$25 USD)
How to get there: You will find the boats on the beach in the Golden Zone to take you across near the Holiday Inn Hotel
30. Rent a Side by Side
If you want to drive around town in adrenaline junkie style, how about renting a side-by-side RZR off-road vehicle?
You will find tons of places to rent one in the Golden Zone (specifically on Av. Cameron Sabalo).
Cost: 1000-1400 pesos an hour including gas for up to 4 people
How to get there: You will find many rental places along Cameron Sabalo street in the Golden Zone.
31. Day Trip to Nearby Towns
So far, I’ve been so busy exploring and settling into life in Mazatlán, that I haven’t gone out to the surrounding cities. (yet!)
I know there are many quaint villages and magical pueblos just a short drive from the city, but I can’t personally give you any recommendations in this moment. I’ve got some tours booked soon, so I will update this post as I personally experience them.
For now, here are the names of the towns that cruisers love to visit:
El Quilete – 40 mins Quaint rural town with authentic Mexican food
La Noria – 40 mins Colonial mining mountain village with artisan crafts
Puerta de Canoas – 40 mins Home of the dancing horses
Concordia – 45 mins 16th century town with a beautiful 18th century church
Copala – 1.2 hours – Old cobblestone mining town
Las Labradas – 1.2 hours petroglyphs with ancient stone carvings
With all of these day trip recommendations you can get there and be back to your ship with enough time to spare.
We highly recommend to go with Christian Blancarte of Mazatlan Travel Club, who has years of experience touring cruise ship passengers.
32. Head to the Observatory
The Observatorio Mazatlán 1873 was opened in 2021 and is one of the new crown jewels of the city. I always bring my guests here and have gone almost 10 times, and I still look forward to it.
It’s located in the southern part of Mazatlan, very close to the cruise port, 75 metres above sea level looking over El Faro.
Originally built as a military outlook post in the 1800’s, it’s now been beautifully restored for visitors to enjoy. Everything is incredibly beautiful from the perfectly manicured gardens to the rustic antiques to the handsome architecture.
Guests can take a guided tour lasting around 1.5 hours that includes an (actually cool!) video of Mazatlan’s history, a ride up the cable car, tour through the museum, bird sanctuary and mezcal stop, finishing with a snack or drink in the Sky Bar with unmatched views of the city.
10:00 am – 4:00 pm for the Observatory
10:00 am – 10:00 pm for the Sky Bar
How To Reserve:
You can WhatsApp them at +52 669 260 9844
The tour includes a 1/2 hour at the Sky Bar, but drinks or food is extra
450 pesos Adults
200 pesos Children
(locals get 150 pesos discount)
How to get there:
Observatorio, Cerro del Vigía, Centro
33. Onaltiki and Onaki
Another new addition as of 2021, and located behind the world-famous Valentinos building, is the restaurant Onaltiki and the beach club Onaki.
Onaltiki is a fantastic oceanfront restaurant specializing in mouth-watering seafood and high-end cocktails. I recently spent an afternoon there with friends for lunch, while we had a bottle of Mexican wine on ice, mountains of ceviche, popcorn tuna, and savoury tacos, all while hearing the waves crash below us.
The menu prices are really decent, especially considering the high-end oceanfront vibe, that almost feels Tulum-y. A massive plate of ceviche that can be shared is 185 pesos ($9 USD / $12 CAD) and a artisan Mezcal cocktail is around 150 pesos ( $7 USD/ $9 CAD)
Onaltiki is open every day starting at 1:00 pm until late.
Location: Located at Valentinos in the Golden Zone
Onaki, located just beside Onaltika, is the cities newest and hottest beach club. Onaki is the place the rich and famous of MZT come out to play, with champagne showers and live DJ’s. You can rent tables, lounge areas by the pool, or simply come for standing room at the bar. They have a massive drink list and the energy will please any tourist looking for a party.
Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 1:00 pm to 9:00 pm
Location: Located at Valentinos in the Golden Zone
Check out the vibe on their Insta: @onakibc
Cruise Port Day FAQ’s
“How do I get around Mazatlán?”
Transportation is all very easy, affordable and safe here in Mazatlán!
You can easily and confidentially take a taxi, pulmonia, Uber, bus or Auriga around town.
To make your life even easier, I wrote an extremely detailed guide on every different type of transportation in the city, plus how much they all cost.
Read more about Transportation in Mazatlán
“What is the weather going to be like when I visit?“
Most cruises come in the winter season, which is SO lovely in Mazatlán! My favorite temperatures are between December and March when humidity goes down and the daily high is only around 25C each day. For Mexico I find it so mild and fresh! Plus, in these winter months, it’s also very rare to have a rainy day, usually only 5 or 6 for the entire season.
If you do come during the summer or early fall, just know you are going to encounter extremely high temperatures and major humidity!
Here is more on the Weather in Mazatlán, especially compared to other port stops in Mexico.
“Which Cruise Ships/Lines stop in Mazatlán?“
For the rest of 2022, here are the cruise lines that will visit Mazatlan:
Royal Caribbean, Navigator of the Seas
Princess, Royal Princess
Disney, Disney Wonder
Regent, Seven Seas Mariner
Princess, Discovery Princess
Norwegian, Norwegian Bliss
“Is Centro walkable from the cruise port?“
Absolutely! Let’s say you wanted to to from the cruise port to Plaza Machado located in Centro, it would be approximately a 1km or 15-minute walk. The road is flat and there are sidewalks, so the walk itself is not difficult or strenuous.
The ‘Mazatlán Tourist Aide Volunteers’ installed something called the “Blue Line” to help you easily find Centro from your ship. It is literally a blue line painted on the street that leads you directly to Plaza Machado in Centro.
“Should I pay in Pesos or USD?“
I always say that if you are in Mexico, pay in Mexican pesos. However, USD is still widely accepted, especially in the tourist areas you will be visiting.
Many of the taxis and pulmonias at the cruise port are very used to accepting USD as payment for a ride and will likely even quote you in USD. While you are in Centro many of the markets and coffee shops have also seen enough cruisers in their days to openly accept USD, but if you have pesos even better.
As an expat living here, I actually use my credit card for lots of purchases at places like the mall or at nicer restaurants, but the city is still very cash based.
Originally published in 2020 with updates