Is Mazatlan one of Mexico‘s best-kept tourism discoveries or an unsafe destination? As word of mouth spreads regarding the colonial city’s charms, the U.S. Department of State has issued warnings regarding the increase of violent drug-related crimes.
A moderate travel advisory is in place for Mexico in general, with higher alerts for Mazatlan’s state of Sinaloa and other regions in particular. While drug-related crimes appear to be targeted, visitors are urged to be fully aware of the situation.
The State Department suggests all international travelers register with the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP), a free service that sends alerts and helps locate individuals in case of an emergency.
Despite the limitations placed on government employees traveling on business, many leisure travelers have still been visiting Mazatlan and reporting on travel websites that they feel safe. Travelers should note that in Mazatlan, the U.S. Consular Agency has operating hours on weekdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Playa Gaviotas 202 in the city’s Zona Dorada (Golden Zone). Telephone numbers are 01-800-681-9374 from within Mexico and 844-528-6611 from the U.S. For after-hours emergencies, the duty officer’s desk is 01-55-5080-2000, ext. 0, and if calling from the United States, dial 011-52-55-5080-2000, ext. 0. The consular agency’s email is [email protected]
Cruises to Mazatlan
Cruising allows tourists to visit Mazatlan without checking into a hotel on the mainland. Several cruise lines call in at Mazatlan, including Princess Cruises, Holland America Line, Norwegian Cruise Line, Carnival Cruise Line, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Crystal Cruises, Oceania Cruises, Silversea Cruises and Disney Cruise Line. Most departures are from Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco, plus a few from Vancouver and Miami. Regent Seven Seas sails from Rome, and Silversea Cruises sails in and out of Mazatlan on a Mexican excursion.
From the cruise terminal, it’s a walkable mile to Old Mazatlan and 4 miles to the Golden Zone, for which there are taxis and open-air golf cart-type vehicles called pulmonias. The cruise lines offer a dozen or more shore excursions to beaches, zip-lining adventures, attractions and villages where local crafting and tequila-making are demonstrated.
More About Mazatlan, Sinaloa
Where the Sea of Cortez meets the Pacific Ocean, Mazatlan is the largest seaport between Los Angeles and the Panama Canal. On the coast at the base of the Sierra Madre Mountains, Mazatlan is widely known as a sport fisher’s paradise for deep-sea adventures with a reel. The city carries the tagline “Pearl of the Pacific” to reflect its thriving shrimp and fish export industry. A fun-loving place for Dia de los Muertos festivals in autumn and Carnaval in spring, Mazatlan hosts the world’s third-largest Mardi Gras-themed celebration, outdone only by New Orleans and Rio de Janeiro.
The Malecon is the city’s seafront walkway providing unobstructed views of the sandy beaches facing the Pacific Ocean. At 13 miles, it’s one of the world’s longest oceanfront pathways, popular for strolling, jogging, biking and people-watching. Scattered with Instagram-worthy monuments and exceptional views along the 5-mile stretch between the Golden Zone and Playa Olas Altas, there’s plenty of daytime activity. The golden sand beach at Playa Olas Altas is favored by the locals for its less-touristy atmosphere, a place where cafes are more reasonably priced than at Playa las Gaviotas, a far more crowded beach beside the Golden Zone’s hotels.
Marina, Golden Zone and Old Town
Tourists who do visit should stick to the principal areas in Mazatlan. The peninsula is divided into three main sections of interest: the Golden Zone, Old Mazatlan and the Marina. At the northern end of the hotel zone is the Marina district, where El Cid Marina Beach Hotel is a luxury resort with private beach, golf and tennis; some cruises offer passengers a day pass. The Golden Zone encompasses the main tourist area where most of the hotels, restaurants, bars and clubs are found.
Four miles south is Old Mazatlan with its cobblestoned streets radiating from Plaza de la Republica. It’s filled with attractive colonial architecture, pastel painted shopfronts, sidewalk cafes and restaurants surrounding a Victorian-era gazebo for outdoor concerts under the orange trees and palms. Just south of the square, Angela Peralta Theater is a distinctive landmark. Additional highlights of Mazatlan’s downtown scene are historic Plaza Machado and Immaculate Conception Cathedral, a 19th-century basilica of Gothic, Moorish and Baroque influences. The municipal market is a large, vibrant open-air site displaying everything from fabrics to fresh fruit and from seafood to silver trinkets. Street people do mingle around, and tourists should avoid flashing cash.
Source: USA Today
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