Hiking ‘El Faro’ is one of the best things to do in Mazatlán, even if you’re just visiting for the day. In fact, the hike is listed on TripAdvisor as the 6th most popular attraction in Mazatlán out of 64.
The panoramic views from the top are spectacular! You can literally see the entire city, coast, and the Sierra Madre mountains in the background.
El Faro is located at the southern tip of the city, very close to the cruise port. ‘Faro’ means lighthouse in Spanish 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.
Who hikes El Faro?
You will see locals, expats, tourists and even cruisers who have stopped for the day trekking up to the top. People of all ages and fitness levels like to do the hike. I have seen super-fit joggers sprint up in no time flat and others who like to casually stroll up while taking lots of photos. There isn’t just one way to do El Faro.
This blog will tell you everything you need to know about hiking El Faro, including any costs involved, where the washrooms are, how to get there, how difficult it is, and more.
El Faro at a glance:
Difficulty – Moderate
Distance – 1.5 km (up and down)
Height – 550 metres
Steps – Almost 350 steps
Time – 30 minutes
Price – Free
Open – 6:30am to 8:00pm daily
Claim to fame – Highest natural lighthouse in the world
Planning Your Trip to El Faro
There are a few things you will want to know before you, including what to wear and the best time to go.
WHAT TO WEAR/BRING:
- Sneakers. Leave the flip-flops for the beach.
- Clothes you can sweat in
- A Hat
- Sunscreen AND bug spray
- Some 10 peso coins (for the glass bridge and washrooms)
WHEN TO GO:
Early Morning or Sunset
The hike up to the top of El Faro is almost completely in the sun, with hardly any shade at all. Early morning between 6 am to 8 am is the best time for the hike because the sun isn’t as strong and won’t heat you up as much. The same is true just before sunset, around 5:00 pm.
You still CAN go during mid-day, but just know it’s going to be sunny and hot! During winter months the daily temperature isn’t very high, but during summer the heat and humidity can be unbearable.
How To Get To El Faro
You can get to El Faro by city bus, walking from Centro or the cruise port, or by taxi/Uber.
The big GREEN ‘Sabalo Centro’ bus will drop you off at the start of the seawall and causeway connecting Mazatlan to the ‘island’ where El Faro is. The bus costs 11 pesos to ride.
Its about a 500m walk to the base of El Faro from where the bus drops you off. After your hike, you can retrace your steps to find the bus once again to head back home.
You can walk to the base of El Faro from a few different areas of town, but only if you like getting your steps in.
- From the Cruise Port: About 1.8km
- From Plaza Machado (Centro): 2.3km
- From the Cliff Divers (Malecon): 2.7km
Any taxi cab driver in Mazatlán will know exactly where to take you if you say ‘El Faro’, so don’t worry about trying to find the exact address.
If you are taking an Uber, open the app and type in ‘El Faro’ as your destination. An Uber from Centro will be around 30 pesos, from the Golden Zone around 70 pesos, and from Cerritos around 100 pesos.
Are there Washrooms at El Faro?
I wanted to talk about washrooms BEFORE we get into the actual hike for one very good reason. Washrooms are ONLY located at the bottom of the hike. There are NO washrooms at the top of the hill. On your way in, just past the main El Faro sign, you will see the washrooms on the right-hand side. They are 10 pesos to use.
On The Way Up
Difficulty and Accessibility:
The hike would be ‘moderate’ difficulty depending on your level of fitness.
For example, we brought visitors in their 70’s who are very fit and they thought it was a breeze. However, I am in my 30’s and not very active and I was huffing and puffing!
Here are some things to know about the path and the hike:
- The path is a mix of gravel trail and wide stone steps. In 2018 the city installed a plastic mesh to add grip to most of the trail that is gravel, which is starting to disintegrate now, but still adds grip
- The hiking trail is all along the east side of the hill, which is why the sun is constantly shining.
- There are many switchbacks on the way up which provide rest areas or look-out opportunities.
- There are no handrails so be cautious if you get dizzy around heights
- There are no accessibility options. Not wheelchair friendly at all.
- If you jog the trail, you’ll be up at the top in 7-12 minutes, walking takes 15-25 and a very slow casual pace might take 30-60 minutes.
There are lots of opportunities to take beautiful pictures all the way up the hill, including the summit at the top. Bring your camera or smartphone for the hike.
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! Many visitors to El Faro actually bring freshwater or cat food as treats for all the kitties who live there.
At The Top
You made it!
At the top of El Faro you will find the viewpoint, plus benches to sit, places to rest, garbage cans, and a recycling bin for plastic bottles.
You will see a small white building to the left (which actually houses the lighthouse) and a viewing area to the right. Inside that small building is where you will find a small fridge where they sell bottles of water for 15 pesos and Gatorade for 30 pesos.
Here are some cool facts about the lighthouse at the top:
- It’s perched on the top of a hill that used to be an island! A causeway now attaches the hill to Mazatlán.
- It was built in 1879 and is still in use today.
- In the 1800’s, the lighthouse used whale oil to stay lit.
- In the early 1900’s the lighthouse was converted to hydrogen gas.
- In the 1930’s the lighthouse was converted to electricity, which is what is still used today.
- Today it still uses electricity but has backup generators in case of a storm. Its beacon can be seen 30 nautical miles
Views From The Top
The views from the top of El Faro are breathtaking! You can see the entire city of Mazatlán, the cruise port, Stone Island, and many of the surrounding areas. Almost all the reviews state the hike is “worth the effort” to get such a beautiful surprise at the end.
In 2018 a glass-floor walkway was added to the top of El Faro. The glass structure extends out the side of the hill, almost as if it was floating above the sea.
This is a great place to get a unique looking photo and to see the city from yet another vantage point.
If you want to go out on the glass walkway, the cost is only 10 pesos. You will be given little blue booties to put over your shoes, or you can go out in sock feet.
The Way Back Down
Well, now it’s time to get back down to sea level. You are going to go back down the exact same way you came up, but at least this time it’s easier. Watch your step when going down as there are no handrails and you might have weak/shaky legs from the journey up.
I hope this article on Mazatlán’s El Faro lighthouse has given you all the information you need to add it to your itinerary.
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