Mazatlan: The Pacific Pearl
Hello travelers and friends of Vacations Away, I have just returned from a week in Mazatlan, Mexico and I’m beside myself waiting to tell you all about it! I’ve traveled Mexico, the Caribbean, the US, Africa and Europe, but no word of a lie – I think I had the most fun in Mazatlan. And here’s why:
Mazatlan is on the Western Mainland Coast of Mexico due East from Los Cabos. This area has 2 climates depending on the time of year you go. If you visit May through October, you’ll find summer rains and humidity which decorate the whole state of Sinaloa in beautiful greens with plumeria flowers. But if you visit November through April, you’ll find a semi-dry area rich with beaches and cacti. As I traveled in September, it was not unusual for the daily temperature to reach +44 celsius with humidity……everyone, even the locals, were non-stop sweating. Through the winter months, the temperature is usually a much more comfortable +30 to +35 with less humidity. There were a few thunder storms during my week there, but typically late at night or early in the morning which would serve to help cool the city down.
On arrival in Mazatlan, as a group of Travel Agents from Western Canada, we were greeted by the Elite Club staff from El Cid Resorts with a beautiful sign marking our stay sponsored by Westjet and El Cid. We were greeted with a cold drink and air conditioned bus and after a 45 minute transfer provided by Prona Tours, we arrived at the beautiful El Cid Moro Beach Resort & Spa and were treated to a Mexican Fiesta show in the lobby on arrival! As our stay included the All Inclusive Elite promo, we had full access to all restaurants throughout the 4 El Cid Resorts, so our first night we had dinner at the La Pergola Mexican buffet restaurant and enjoyed a Mexican Fiesta Dinner show with live Mariachi music and folkloric dancing. You can see a snippet here: https://www.facebook.com/vacationsawayinc/videos/1900090943403941/
The next day we explored the city. Mazatlan is a city with history dating from the 16th century, so on your upcoming travels, you will see some restoration construction being done at the historic district. They are updating the walk way of the 17 km long Malecon, as well as facades of the centuries old buildings. From here, we watched the famous cliff divers performing at the South End of the Malecon. Incredibly dangerous, the divers have only 3 feet of water to dive into.
Their precision must be exact as they need to enter the water as the tide comes in so that the water’s depth is safe enough to jump into. They perform for tips. Just beyond here, you will also find Mazatlan’s famous Ocean Pool. It’s a walled in pool filled by ocean water. This is free to the public and is something quite unique to the city.
The highlight of this evening was dinner off resort at Pedro & Lola’s in Machado Plaza. After an open air pulmonia cab ride:
we toured the gorgeous Angela Peralta Opera House, museum and art gallery. At dinner, we were treated to a local dish called Imperial Shrimp. These are super jump shrimp stuffed with cream cheese, wrapped in bacon, and in this particular instance, served in a chipotle sauce. This was divine! Mazatlan is the shrimp capital of the world, after all, and this is a must try when in destination.
After a day of site inspections at the 4 El Cid properties (Marina, Moro, Castilla & Granada), we headed on a Mexican countryside tour to the towns of Malpica, Concordia and Copala.
Malpica is a small town of 1500 with a very tasty panaderia (bakery) run out of the owners home, as well as a small market where you can purchase the famed fire opal jewelry Mazatlan is known for, as well as watch hand made tiles be created.
Concordia town is a great city with a unique historic church that due to the large number of immigrants from other nations settling here, has one Star of David on each of the 28 windows in solidarity with the Jewish Community.
Lastly, we toured the small town of Copala. Colorful homes line the cobbled streets on route to the towns 1 restaurant and artisan shops. Again, outside the historic plaza is the church dating from 1765 that is still used for Sunday service every week.
For a day of fun, we took a trimaran cruise to Deer Island which is directly across from the El Cid Moro and El Cid Castilla resorts. After an hour cruise on the water, we stopped at the island for an afternoon of snorkeling, banana boating, lunch and relaxation. The water was clean, clear and warm as a bath tub. There were plenty of shaded palapas to hang out under as well as hammocks to swing and nap in. That evening, we took a Wine Tasting Class with El Cid Sommelier, Christian, at the El Cid Moro which is provided free of charge once or twice per week to All Inclusive Elite guests.
This next day was a huge highlight for each of us. We spent the morning touring Las Labradas – the historic home of the Azatlan people.
Here they carved art into the black volcanic rocks, images ranging from circles representing the cycles of the sun, to skulls, to animals and more.
The whole area is a protected site, so collecting shells and rocks is prohibited. Make sure to spend time under the pergola watching the waves crash on the rocks.
Following this, we spent our afternoon at the wonderful El Verde Camacho Marine Turtle Station.
This amazing place is a non-profit organization dedicated to regrowing the number of sea turtles in the ocean. There is one marine biologist, one permanent staff member, and a team of 20 volunteers. Each night, the team watches sea turtles nesting on the beach and has 8 hours to dig and relocate the eggs to safe locations – whether at the beach sanctuary or the storage space in coolers. Each storage spot is monitored for temperature by a sensor that goes directly to the Marine Biologist’s phone.
**Marine biologist, Daniel Ruiz
After learning the procedures and had lunch, we released the new hatched turtles into the sea. Of all baby turtles released, only 1% survive to adulthood.
As this is a non-profit, the money that they make comes from tours provided by Prona Tours. Guests can donate extra if they wish, or we can even arrange for you to spend a night on site and volunteering with the team. Any money they do make goes to supplies they may need, but more importantly, to meeting with school kids to teach them about conservation.
Our last full day in Mazatlan was a free day, though we were encouraged to explore more of the city. And explore, we did! Starting early at 6:30am, I went to the lighthouse – the tallest naturally occurring lighthouse still in operation in the world. This is a hard hike. It only takes about a half hour to get to the top, but it’s half an hour going UP. It is certainly hard work and the ground is uneven, but there are several rest points throughout and the view from the top is worth it. From the top, you get the full city view of Mazatlan including Stone Island and the Pacifico Brewing Factory. The glass bridge lookout point costs $1 peso per person and is absolutely safe. Wear socks as you can not walk on the bridge in shoes, otherwise you’ll be given slippers to wear over your shoes.
Once we got back down, we stopped at a local taquiera for breakfast called Tacos Figueroa. There was a woman singing (yes, even for breakfast). I ate tacos suave de carne con papa (tacos with beef and potatoes), and fresh delicious horchata (a Mexican rice water drink with condensed milk, cinnamon and vanilla). 3 people ate a hearty breakfast of 6 tacos and 3 drinks for less than $200 pesos. Service was extremely fast, very friendly and the food was delicious and authentic with hand made tortillas. 10/10 would recommend. Find them here: https://www.facebook.com/ConElFigueroa/
After this, we joined others from the group for an excursion to the Mazatlan Aquarium.
It’s roughly the size of the Saskatoon Forestry Farm, but there are plans to expand it to be the largest aquarium in Latin America by 2021. Here we explored the indoor aquarium with all kinds of sea life, watched a diver interact with sharks, explored ruins of a shrimp boat, enjoyed the art installations made from recyclable materials, watched a 3 piece sea lion show as well as a parrot feeding experience.
Not only this, but they also had touch tanks, crocodiles, tortoises and birds on display as well as a good little gift shop. There are 9 sea lions on site, 4 were rescued and the rest were born here. The animals are well cared for and enjoy a great relationship with their handlers. The aquarium also runs a turtle hatchery and because of this, clients are also able to participate in turtle releases at their resort from November to April.
This has been a lot of information to take in, I know. But there are main points I want everyone to take home about Mazatlan:
– the people are amazingly friendly and welcoming. Almost all workers in Mazatlan were born and raised here and often confessed to having a great quality of life so they didn’t want to leave.
– the city is authentically Mexican with plenty of history
– the food is phenomenal and unique with shrimp and filet mignon being especially sought after
– conservation is near and dear to everyone’s heart
– the best money to have in Mazatlan is Mexican Peso. Vendors do not take USD or CAD cash, and often changing either currency into Peso locally can be a burden. I strongly recommend pre-ordering peso’s to take with you.
– Mazatlan is SAFE. I, and others, never felt threatened in any way. We walked late at night off resort and we all agreed that we felt safer in Mazatlan than we do at home.
– As there are 4 different resorts, El Cid has a property to cater to each kind of traveler and I’ve experienced them all to help make your holiday planning easier!
All the above is just some of the things I could tell you about Mazatlan and how wonderful it is! Please do consider making Mazatlan your next destination of choice!