Fun article about Mazatlán from Travelocity …
7 Reasons Mazatlán, Mexico is More Than a Cruise Stop
by Mike and Anne Howard, Gnational Gnomads (Sponsored) | Oct 17, 2016
Along the Pacific Coast, Mazatlán, Mexico is a classic cruise destination, but it’s time we venture beyond the port! We’ve partnered with Mike & Anne Howard, the World’s Longest Honeymooners and the travel bloggers behind HoneyTrek.com, to shake the cruise ship and explore Mexico’s forgotten gem … the Pearl of the Pacific!
Long before Cabo San Lucas and Puerto Vallarta emerged as mega tourist destinations, Mazatlán was the getaway to the stars. Everyone from Liz Taylor to John Wayne would stroll the palm-lined promenades, island hop the archipelago, and revel in the glamour of the tropical neoclassical architecture. Then some bad press on the state of Sinaloa knocked this gorgeous and culturally rich beach destination off the travel itineraries. Now it’s more commonly a 10-hour cruise stop where tourists run around the Centro Historico, then they’re off to Vallarta … with no idea what they’re missing. As travelers, we’re happy to keep this gem to ourselves, but as former residents of the “Pearl of the Pacific,” we can’t help but share the love.
1. Centro Historico: A Cultural Hot Spot
Settled by the Spanish in the 1500s with the Germans arriving in the 1800s, the city is a fascinating cultural and architectural mashup. Neoclassical plazas, Bavarian breweries, Banda/Ooompa-music bars, old-school markets, trendy cafes, taco shacks, and grand seaside promenades give it European style with a Mexican tropical twist. Plaza Machado is the heart of the city’s cultural scene. It’s lined with incredible restaurants (we ♥ Pedro y Lola’s), all with outdoor seating to take in the festive ambiance. Every weekend, artists and jewelry designers set up their stalls, bands play the central gazebo, and everyone is out strolling the manicured gardens or people watching from one of the cast-iron benches. Around the corner on Calle Carnaval is the feather in Mazatlán’s cultural cap: The Angela Peralta Theater. We’ve seen three different performances (opera, dance, and classical music) in this 19th-century opera house and they were all impressive, as was the sheer volume of shows each month. Check CulturaMazatlan.com for a calendar of events, and if your trip overlaps with the first Friday of the month, don’t miss the Art Walk!
2. A Breathtaking Boardwalk
The 13-mile beach promenade stretching from the Centro Historico to the Golden Zone is where the city’s beauty and penchant for good times walk hand in hand. Lined with palm trees, adorned with art sculptures, and framed by golden beaches and islands, the malecón beckons everyone from cyclists to strolling couples. By night, the bars of Olas Altas are full of Mazatlecos sipping Pacificos, playing dominos or dancing to banda. The seawall is just as packed with impromptu parties of friends mixing drinks, strumming instruments, and sparking up couples’ dance sessions. Weekend or not, when the sun sets … the whole town seems to meet here and take a moment to enjoy the beauty of the day.
3. A Foodie Paradise
Mexican food is always good, and in Sinaloa … it’s beyond delicioso. They have some of the best seafood, grow 30 varieties of mangoes, and have regional specialties that lure people from across country for a taste of Mazatlán. For a one-of-a-kind dining experience, eat at El Presidio, an al fresco restaurant in the whimsical ruins of a 19th-century mansion. Find the best ceviche of your life at the mom and pop shop of Mariscos Los Especiales. Then sample the taco stands serving choreadas and vampiros, these local delights will never cease to amaze for $1.25.
4. The Highest Natural Lighthouse in the Americas
To appreciate the city’s dramatic coastline, you have to visit El Faro. With a 30-minute hike up the 523-foot peak, you’ll find a great viewing deck, plus lots of rock outcroppings to enjoy vistas of the archipelago, port, and secret beaches. There is a small museum at the top and if you ask nicely, the lighthouse keepers may just let you climb into the tower to scope its 100-year old lenses.
5. Whale Watching and Swimming with Dolphins in the Wild!
Every spring thousands of gray whales migrate from the cold waters of the Bering Seas to the warm waters of Mexico, lingering to frolic and breed in the Bay of Mazatlán. See whales breach with a dramatic splash, mothers nurse their calves, and males sing their courtship songs. Want to get even closer to the marine life? Go to sea with the eco-outfitters and marine biologists of Onca Explorations, a one-of-a-kind team that’s been leading trips and conducting research on the region’s dolphins and whales for ten years. Their Wild Dolphin Adventure heads 20 nautical miles off the coast and tracks the pods (we spotted over 200 pantropical dolphins!). When the moment is right, you join the dolphins for a swim and watch them dive around you for an unforgettable snorkel experience.
6. World-Class Festivals
Hosting Mexico’s largest Carnival celebration, Mazatlán has been perfecting their party skills since 1848. Imagine Mardi Gras, but along the beach with Latin rhythms, taco feasts, and pyrotechnic extravaganzas. This is Mazatlán’s Carnaval. Parades, costume balls, and full-on revelry fill the town, culminating with the crowning of the Carnaval Queen and dramatic naval battle re-enactment with canons shooting fireworks. Can’t make it in February? Come November 1 for Day of the Dead, another glorious parade through the Centro Historico, this time involving bedazzled skeleton costumes, burros de cerveza (a donkey pulling kegs of free beer), and hundreds of over-the-top altars around the city.
7. Ancient History … On the Beach!
Nowhere else in the world can you find ancient petroglyphs in the ocean surf. Over 600 volcanic rock carvings dating back 1,500 years surface each day when the tide recedes at San Ignacio Beach. Hopping rock to rock, looking for geometric motifs and trying to decipher the ancient symbolism is like an archaeological treasure hunt. Plus, Las Labradas is surprisingly untouristed for being the country’s largest open air museum. Get your history fix then stroll the adjacent stretch of sand to find your own secluded paradise.
Mazatlan HoneyTrek.com Nestled between the Pacific Ocean and the Sierra Madre Mountains, Mazatlán is a two-hour flight from the States, and a five-hour drive north of Puerto Vallarta. Not a podunk beach town or fabricated tourist destination, it’s a 450,000-person metropolis with has a strong cultural identity and a heart warming locals scene. We hope you get the chance to stay for a while!
Mike & Anne Howard are official Travelocity Gnomads. Gnational Gnomads is an exclusive group of high-profile travel and lifestyle experts who offer tips and inspiration on behalf of Travelocity. For more information on the Travelocity Gnomads visit travelocitygnomads.com (page not working as of 17 August, 2020).
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