Port - "Cruise ships dock at the busy cargo dock. For safety reasons, you are taken on a free shuttle to the terminal, which runs every 5 minutes and takes 3 minutes. Here you'll find a festive atmosphere with many shops, restaurant, bar, restrooms, long distance phone/internet access, flea market, postal booth for stamps and a pharmacy. Time share reps will offer you a free all-inclusive (food, drink, and facilities) day pass and free round-trip taxi, in exchange for you attending their time share presentation.
On Stone Island - We picked Victor's which was at the far end. Prices for food (shrimp) and beer are less expensive than on mainland. Incredible huge seafood lunch with ice cold beer, rustic restrooms and showers. You can get a plate that has both garlic & coconut shrimp. We hung out in front of Victor's on his lounge chairs until we were ready to eat. Victor's out weighs Moloky 5 to one. The food is more than excellent and the prices are great plus the size of the shrimp and the service! You do get more for your money at Victor's than at Moloky. Molokay have a lot of space all under palm trees and palapas with tables in the sand. Pronounced mo-lo-ki, it has great Garlic Shrimp; I think it's around $20. We like Lelli's, they supply chairs and lounges at no charge, food and drinks are very reasonable. Garlic and Coconut Shrimp was great. We did El Papagayo and had a delicious lunch. The view was great. Lety's, Victors and Pili's are all together at the end. We went to Pili's, he had an ATV to rent as well as horses.
We rented ATVs, which was excellent because the beach there is so wide and perfect for ATVing, with palm lined miles of coastline to ourselves. ATVs ($35/hour) for rent, but no jet skis. (Waiter can arrange for you). We paid $25/ hour. We rented from the guy just before Lety's and we paid $25/h. You can fit 3 people on. Towels were available to rent for $3. 30 mins horse back rides $5 right behind Molokay”s. restaurant.
Coco Loco rum drink served in a baby coconut, where they poured out the coconut milk, poured in rum, and ice, and some fruit juice, and then poured the coconut milk back in, and handed you the coconut. YUMM! We were at Molekay in Jan and all they had was beer. Victor's does not have Margaritas. The restaurant I went to, - it was several "huts" down from Victors, they definitely DID have filtered water (they all do, from what I understand), and they did have margaritas. You can get a margarita at Lety's which is right next to Victors. Very potent. There are many restaurants to choose from but Victor's really is the best bang for your buck.
Old Mazatlan - The Market (El Mercado) - Start your tour of downtown here at a typical Mexican flea/street market, at Juarez and Ocampo Streets. This market boasts the largest offerings of fresh fruit and meat on the west coast, its one square block of stalls offering vegetables, fish, meat, groceries, souvenirs, arts and crafts, leather, jewellery, clothing in old Mexican style. The ambience is colonial, with historic buildings and sidewalk cafes around there. The market was opened in 1899. The Victorian tin roofed market is modeled after the work of French architect Alfred Eiffel (yes, that Eiffel). There are small restaurants in the upper level surrounding the market, however better restaurants are within 1 block on both sides (west & east). Venture a few streets south to the restored colonial section of town to view colourfully painted homes with wrought-iron trim that line the streets. Bargaining is encouraged. Locals shop here daily, where one can admire the produce of the country side, old structures and local ironwork. Taxi from the ship was $5, 10 minutes.
Close and south of the theatre is Nidart Leather Faces Gallery - corner of Carnaval & Libertad Streets, selling wonderful hand made art in leather including masks, faces, bodies and pins, pottery, sculptures, dolls, and paintings. A highlight of Old Mazatlan for us were visiting here, see the old house walls painted with incredible figures, admire the Indian Princess made with clay which is a fountain in the middle of the house. The gallery is also the artist’s house. They will give you a map to other artisan shops within walking distance. The leather masks make unique gifts.
Next to the Theatre and 4 blocks southwest from the Cathedral is the small attractive Plaza Machado, located at Avenues Constitucion and Carnaval, a 25 minute walk from the ship and two blocks away from the beach, a lovely, shady, bench-lined town square in the historic heart of Mazatlán. The immediate area around the square have restaurants, sidewalk cafés, museums, street performers, stately buildings, galleries, cobbled streets, old balconied buildings, colourful homes and towering trees. The plaza also serves as the site for music and dance fests with live music in the evenings. Cafe Pacifico on the corner- it wreaks rough history, with a bear skin wall hanging. The oldest town bakery is located here.
Along the Malecon and Gold Zone - Just west of downtown and 4 blocks from the Marchado Plaza, is the historic area of Olas Altas (Big waves) with spectacular ocean front scenery, situated at the start of the Malecon. A highly recommended gift shop in this area with a great variety of souvenirs, silver and Mexican hand-made art crafts, is Casa Antigua.
Worth a look is historic Hotel Belmar, the No. 1 hotel when Mazatlan tourism began. Its painted tiles, old bullfight posters, and dark-wood interiors date back to the turn of the 20th century. It's worth going to the roof of the BestWesternHotelFreeman for a great view of the city. Take the elevator as far up as it goes and then a couple of flights of stairs to the roof.
A nice restaurant in this area and close to the terminal is the Shrimp Bucket, part of the Carlos n Charlie’s chain, very good but more expensive. An inside & outside café by Deer Monument & Fondo St. I do not think it was very good, rather find a good authentic Mexican restaurant. Where the Malecón becomes Paseo Claussen Between the malecón and the Shrimp Bucket are many craft and art stores, such as Indios, with exquisite silverwork.
From here the main road winds up a steep hill, Cerro Vigia (Lookout Hill) - Located where Avenida Olas Altus becomes Centenario Boulevard, Step across the little hilltop plaza and down to the excellent seafood restaurant Café El Mirador and enjoy lunch, a drink, and the view; open noon- 9 pm.
The Golden Zone (Zona Dorada) begins where Avenida del Mar narrows and intersects with avenida Rafael Buelna and becomes avenida Camarón Sábalo. Tourist area with high-rise hotels, shops and restaurants. Take a Sabalo-Centro bus to the beaches in the Golden Zone. The two-mile-long, wide curving stretch of beach has several names, beginning with Playa Cameron, then Gaviotas and finally Sabalo, which is the best place to swim and people watch. Most of the best hotels are here, including El Cid, Camino Real, Inn at Mazatlan and Playa Mazatlan. This is the resort part of Mazatlan. Beach vendors selling anything from chewing gum to parasailing rides or Hobie Cat rentals.
The Golden Zone startsat Punta Camarón, a rocky outcropping overlooking the sea, dominated by the conspicuous white walls and turrets of the Fiesta Land/Valentino’s nightclub. This all-white, Moorish-looking building houses Bora Bora, a popular disco/bar and entertainment center. It takes about twenty minutes to walk from Valentino's in the south to El Cid, at the north side of the Golden Zone.
The more southerly Playa Camarón is narrow and steep, with coarse, yellow sand. Small shells on the beach are sometimes plentiful. At Punta Camarón, Av.Del Mar becomes Calz. Camarón Sábalo, which winds northward through the clutter of the Golden Zone with street side eateries and shops. It's one of the best beaches in Mazatlan. If you are looking for water sports, food or just laying in the sun...this is the place! Gentle waves, white sands, three offshore islands..Perfect. Hotels immediately north of Punta Camarón testify to the beauty of Playa Camarón and Playa Gaviotas. These shining beaches give meaning to the label Golden Zone. Golden memories for visitors and gold in the pockets of the Mazatlán folks lucky enough to own or work here.
About 500 yards north of Camaron point, near the Las Flores Hotel, Playa Camarón becomes Playa Gaviotas in front of Hotel Sabalos and Hotel Playa Mazatlan. The soft golden sand here gave the Golden Zone its name. Set right at the beginning of the Zona Dorada, this is the most popular beach in town, very pretty but fairly crowded. Protected by the off shore islands.
Hotel Castilla El Cid - likes cruise ship passengers. From the ship take a 30 mins taxi ($12) have lunch/ drinks, there and you can use their pool. The most active section of this popular beach is centered around El Cid and extends south to Joe's Oyster Bar. My favourite resorts here are Pueblo Bonito, Costa de Oro & Hotel Playa Mazatlan. Each has ocean side pools and Hotel Playa has lots of beach palapas, open air restaurants. The El Cid has the largest pool in that area. I like Hotel Costa de Oro best. The walk along the beach from Pueblo Bonito to Hotel Playa Mazatlan should take about 40 minutes. The islands offshore prevent most large waves from hitting this beach. El Moro Towers or Castilla at El Cid from either of these you can go through there lobbies to the 3 pool areas and the beach all of which are very close to each other. El cid hotel was so so, a little run down. I prefer the Hotel Playa; it is much more quiet and relaxing.
Time share deals: When we arrived in Mazatlan we were told about a one hour time share at the El Cid. They offered to transport us there and back to the ship plus free gifts. So, we headed on over and it was just an hour, we said no thank you. When we arrived at the hotel we were given arm bands that paid for all of our drinks and lunch for each of us. They asked that we tip and the use of the property for the day was ours. Now, we never saw any free gifts but we had transportation, lunch and drinks for free, that was our cheapest port day. We actually did this with the Inn at Mazatlan. The time share reps were very nice, and they put us all in a taxi headed to the resort with bottled water in hand. The resort itself was very beautiful and luxurious. When we got there, we were instructed to wait for our tour. We were more than willing to do so, and then we saw another person from our ship that had just finished their tour. They said it was high-pressure and the person wouldn't take no for an answer. So, based on that, we politely thanked the Inn at Mazatlan people, offered to pay them for the cab fare (they wouldn't take it), and walked down the road...which leads me to your second option: Normally you do not need a day pass at the resorts if you buy drinks and food. El Cid has one that costs to the public about 45us but if you talk to the timeshare people at the dock, you can get it for free, well; nothing is free because they will want you to go thru the presentation. But normally you go to El Cid, The Inn, or other big hotels and you can use their pool if you pay for food and drinks or maybe a tip to the pool guys.
El Cid Castilla is the best resort of the 3, with very large pool & a large water slide. You can buy a day pass in the lobby at reception desk. We walked in and the lady at the security desk asked if we had a pass, and we said no, we just wanted to use the beach and have a meal in the restaurants. She said no problem and let us in. When we got to the lobby, another lady offered to give us the time share tour in exchange for an all-inclusive pass. We declined, and she was very nice about it and showed us where to go for restaurants, beach, etc. We found a beach palapa (no charge) and chairs and staked out our spot. The water was great, and when we were hungry, we went to their open-air beachfront restaurant, La Concha. Probably the best authentic Mexican food (and atmosphere) I've ever had. 2 of us ate there for $13 US total, including tip. We each had a meal, a frozen drink, and bottled water. It was excellent. We also met another cruise passenger on the beach who had done the time-share tour and said it was quick and low-hassle, so perhaps it might be worth it there. We went on the El Cid tour it was not high pressure, lasted about 45 min. then we used their pools, beach areas with free, boogie boards, free lunch which was very good and free drinks all afternoon. Also round trip taxi ride. We just took one of the open air taxis to El Cid. We walked in through the lobby to the pool. We bought a couple of drinks and spent most of the day there. There was no charge for use of the facilities. They seemed to welcome the business. We walked down the beach for about an hour before hailing a taxi and heading back to the ship. It was a great relaxing day.
In order to take the time share tour at any resort in Mazatlan, if you are married, your spouse must also be present. If you want to avoid the timeshare tour but still get in on the "goodies", simply state that your husband/wife is not present, but that you would still like to visit their resort and see what they have to offer. The second time we headed out to the beach that day, the El Cid reps gave us an armband good for free admission and drinks since we couldn't participate in the tour. You can basically walk into any resort in Mazatlan at no charge and use their facilities as long as you eat and drink. No need to do the time share thing.
We visited El Cid in Mazatlan and I didn't care for it. Some ships have tours to the Playa Mazatlan, which is without a doubt the best hotel in Mazatlan. I have seen people from the ships use the beach in front of the hotel, without a tour. day pass Try Playa Mazatlan. I'm sure they offer them. The hotel is nice and the staff is more than great.
We went to Los Sabados Hotel and they allowed us to use their beach and pool for free. They just want you to eat and drink. The pool was kind of weird, long and narrow and you had to get in and out on the back side. But it was clean and the water was refreshing. The food was good and the people very nice. The beach was nice, but the incline getting in and out of the water was a little steep. It is steep for a couple of feet and then it comes back up and is flat and not to deep for a ways out. Not too many vendors. Taxi was $10. We were going to go to El Cid, which we went to and did the time share talk last time we were there. The guy getting people cabs in the terminal suggested Los Sabados, he said it wasn't a time share and we wouldn't be bothered. He was right. At El Cid they were so aggressive wanting you to buy. We loved the pool, but we'd never go back.
Another quarter mile north around Hotel El Cid, Playa Gaviotas becomes its identically lovely northward extension, Playa Sábalo, considered by many to be Mazatlan's best and most popular beach. Past the rocks of Punta Sábalo, the final three miles of beach begin near the Camino Real Hotel; here a bridge over a boat channel flows in and out of a tidal lagoon. The lagoon is popular for bird watching. The beach boulevard loops a mile inland, curving north past the Marina Mazatlán, and back to the beach, where it becomes Playa Cerritos (Little Hills Beach). The hotels thin out as it continue past grassy dunes and venerable groves to a sheltered cove beneath Punta Cerritos hill.
Restaurants /Bars – Because Mazatlan has one of the largest shrimp fleets in the world, seafood and shrimp are the local specialties. A beer within walking distance from the ship? Edgar's Bar on the corner of Mariano Escobeda and Aquiles Serdan. Delightful bar which the owner has decorated the inside with hundreds of interesting old pictures of Old Mazatlan. Around lunch hour you receive free snacks. From the ship it is a 25 minute walk
From El Cid walk 10 minutes north to Tony’s on the Beach (north aprox 2 blocks) Remember to say to the taxi driver: “Tony’s on the beach, between the Caravelle and Fiesta Inn Hotels.” It is next to Chilli Peppers, located on Sabalo Avenue, close to Pueblo Bonito. There is no sign on the outside but you will see two other restaurants Chilli pepper and Locos locos. Tony’s is in the middle and right on the beach. As you pull up, it looks like you are at a vacant business complex. Go to the middle of the building area and look left, it is right there. Small open air type place about 75 feet from the water with a gorgeous view. Excellent seafood and Mexican food. Highly recommended by several CC’s. Sit down table/umbrella right on the sand. Both times we caught a taxi street side within in 5 minutes. 15-20 minute ride. They have boogie boards, jet skis, sailboats, parasailing and I think kayaks also in the area. Try the imperial platter, it is the best. It has 2 lobsters (pacific lobster) and about 6 jumbo shrimp. About $ 40. It comes with tortilla soup or salad plus vegetables, baked potato and rice. If only one wants it, they give you have an order at half the price. If you like beer with lime, try my favourite, MICHELADA, I call it chocolate milk. It is a glass or mug with salt on top like a margarita, with lime juice, ice and then they pour the beer in. It is very good!
The Shrimp Factory, located about a block from Hotel Playa Mazatlan, is very good, a little further down the road (north) is Chillies Peppers (my favourite) also La Casa De Marinara, order the shrimp party platter. I've heard that it's good too, all they do is Shrimp.
Senor Frog's on Avenue del Mar. Here in Mazatlan is where the legend began with the very first Senor Frog’s.
True Mexican flavour can only be experienced at the open-air roadside taco stands, of which there are many on "the Strip". The good ones are easy to spot; look for the ones with the most people. Chicken, beef and fish tacos or burritos, a spicy sauce, with rice and beans on the sides - about 50 cents. Family-run businesses that offer a great local experience. Usually also serve cervezas. The drinking age is 18. The appropriate drink is a margarita with or without tequila, or a Pacifico beer. Poco Loco : an iced green coconut, drink the milk with a straw, then spoon out the soft, pulpy meat squeezed fresh lime right on it and then a few drops of hot sauce (not salsa) sprinkled all over it Drink : make a drink right in the fresh coconut using the milk and add other "stuff". Once you finish the drink they take that coconut and make the snack. Restaurants have purified water and ice. The primary industry in Mazatlan is tourism, water is safe. Ask for identification from anyone who presents himself as a police officer if he’s attempting to arrest or fine you for no obvious reason.
Joe's Oyster Bar - on the beachfront at Los Sabalos Hotel at Av. Rodolfo T. Loaiza 100, from the cruise pier, cab is $12. Beer, burgers, fresh oysters, casual, thatched roof open-air disco. Parasailing, banana-boating & jet skiing, vendors
Internet: MacDonald’s and Burger Kings have free wireless internet. At the pier : International Communications Center; phone calls to the U.S. 75 cents per minute, and Internet access is available for $2 for 15 minutes, CompuSoporte (Avenue del Mar #4) in the Golden Zone..
Shopping - a little cheaper in Mazatlan than P.V. Out of all 3, I believe Mazatlan is supposed to be the most economical place to shop. DO bargain in these smaller shops...they tell you something costs $100, you shake your head and start to walk away...they'll pursue you..."how much do you want to spend?"...You say $20...eventually, you'll pay $50. Downtown was the cheapest, with the golden zone next, and the cruise dock the most expensive. At the ship terminal you can buy the best silver at very reasonable prices.
The Golden Zone has a large collection of shops from flea market to high end jewellery. Great jewellery stores are PARDO (Fire opals), Pacific Jewellery, Diamonds International, Diamond Marquis, Maya (Great real Talavera), Milano. Gems and diamonds can be purchased tax-free. The best place to seek out jewellery is the Golden Zone. A recommended shop for Mexican handicrafts and jewellery is Madonna. Leather shops, - the famous Mexican Fire Opals from Magdalena, Jalisco. There is a shop in the Golden Zone named QUETZAL, which used to be MR.Indio that has a nice collection of silver jewellery. All the silver comes from TAXCO
Popular things to buy: Silver jewellery, Leather goods, Fake designer purses and designer watches, Alcohol, especially Kahlua and good Tequila, Kahlua (Costs around $8 for a litre that runs about $20-22 back home)...They allow US residents to bring back 1 litre per adult duty-free. Local and native arts, An Onyx and Abalone Mask (The cruise ship recommended stores were asking $80-85 at the time...I picked up the exact same merchandise at a smaller shop in the Golden Zone for $20!!)
A ceramic statue of a woman carrying a basket of fruit
At Michaels Gallery they have a real nice selection of Silver and Gold Jewellery, also nice Arts and Crafts. Next to Michaels gallery is a nice Leather factory called Gaby’s where they have a nice selection of leather goods. Also there is a store called Constantinos.
Silver is big in Mexico as it’s a leading world producer of ‘plata’. True silver is stamped 925, beware that much of the ‘silver’ sold by vendors on the beach is alpaca; a lower-quality silver plated metal, even though it may have been stamped “.925”. The highest quality silver jewellery is sold in the stores. Prices typically are not marked, but instead based on the weight of the piece. Many people say Mazatlan has the best prices in Mexico for Silver & Gold. Do not look for the 925 stamp because the vendors put the stamp on. Go to a reputable store; egg MichaelsGallery in the golden zone. Beware of anything marked "Mexican Silver", it is copper, zinc, nickel and only 2% silver. Very low quality. Tarnishes quickly and the copper will turn your skin green or blackish. Another product call "German Silver" contains no silver at all. Be careful with the vendors on the street or beach.
Very popular is ‘manta’, a light and airy cotton fabric that makes perfect warm-climate clothing. Mexico is famous for hand-worked leather goods. The beautiful multi-colour pottery you may know as ‘Mexican style’ is actually called Talavera.
Vanilla - Because vanilla originated in Mexico, it’s natural to think that we’d have a good supply of real, pure vanilla extract. Most of the vanilla you will encounter in Mazatlan is synthetic, no matter what the label says. Bogus vanilla likely includes a high alcohol content (up to 25%), whereas genuine vanilla extract will have no more than 2% alcohol. Fake vanilla may also contain coumarin, which can be toxic to the liver. It has been outlawed in the US, but may still find its way into synthetic vanilla here. The one brand of vanilla here in Mazatlan that enjoys a reputation of being pure and ‘real’ vanilla is Orlando. Labels are not regulated in Mexico, so even when the label says 100% pure vanilla, it might be synthetic.
Arts and Crafts Center (Centro de Artesanías) – Located at Aviotas and Avenida Rodolfo T. Loaiza, beyond the Playa Mazatlan, filled with local artisans at work on crafts ranging from weaving to wood carving. This is the largest commercial craft center in Mexico with a huge selection of handicrafts from all over Mexico, Cash only. There are lots of souvenir-type curios to buy such as sombreros, sandals, and coconut masks. See several artisans at work. This is the best place along the west Mexico coast to find, under one roof, an elaborate array of Mexican artistic genius, working in everything from fabric to onyx. Nearby are small craft shops.
Nearby Sea Shell City Museum/shop (Avenida Rodolfo T. Loaiza between Las Garzas and Avenida del Mar) Located at 407 Playa Gaviotas Street. Treasure trove of seashells, displays the rarest specimens, silver jewellery, coconut art, wind chimes, sea shell mosaics. A must-see for tourists. Walk up to the second floor and you'll see practically anything with a seashell attached to it, including a large fountain and aquariums with live fish. 2 floors filled with a huge variety of objects made out of shells
Caliente is sort of a casino where you can bet on sports, like horse races, boxing, baseball, etc. Caliente is on Avenida del Mar ( Malecon) between the Golden zone and the port area."
RCI Majesty of the Seas - Dec 2008 - Bahamas
Carnival Splendour - 3 May 2009 - NW/ Pacific Coastal
RCI Mariner of the Seas - 16 May 2010 - Mexican Riviera
HAL Eurodam - 4 Dec 2010 - Eastern Caribbean
RCI Adventure of the Seas 2011 - Southern Caribbean
HAL Volendam - 8 August 2012 - Alaska
Carnival Legend - 3 Feb 2013 - Western Caribbean
HAL Volendam - 29 May 2013 - Alaska
NCL Pride of America - 13 Dec 2014 - Hawaii