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“Mazatlan: Hotels, Restaurants, Activities, Weather”
Review of Mazatlan

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San Francisco
Level 2 Contributor
4 reviews
4 helpful votes
“Mazatlan: Hotels, Restaurants, Activities, Weather”
Reviewed 23 February 2008

My husband and I went to Mazatlan for the 1st time this XMas. Mazatlan is like the Puerto Vallarta of the future. It's being built up but it isn't quite there yet. It has restaurants, clubs on one strip of the city and then the old historic part of town in another area.

We stayed at the Hotel Pueblo Bonito Emerald Bay, one of the nicest resorts in Mazatlan. Most people stayed there as timeshare owners but we did not. The best part abt. the hotel is the grounds. It's very grand and beautiful with 3 gorgeous pools. One of them is an infinity pool that looks out on the ocean. The rooms are large...all of them are condos looking out on the ocean. It's a good family place but we don't have kids and still enjoyed it. The big pool has music and resort activities. There's a smaller pool without the activities called the "Quiet Pool".

What we didn't like were: 1. The restaurant was not very good for dinner 2. The bar is pretty boring and tacky 3. It was too secluded from downtown---although some people may like this seclusion, we didn't b/c you have to take a 15 min. shuttle + a 10 min. cab ride to get to the restaurants and stores. Another option...you could stay at the Pueblo Bonito Mazatlan downtown, a less luxurious hotel in Mazatlan but more affordable, and shuttle over to Emerald Bay to enjoy their amenities.

Another thing, we did the 2 hr timeshare tour which was worth it. They weren't pushy and we got a $100 voucher each at the hotel and a free breakfast (although we had to eat w/the timeshare promoter)

My suggestion abt all inclusives: Wherever you stay, don't do all inclusive. Usually the hotel restaurants are not good and you end up being stuck eating there every day.

Other hotels we saw that looked nice were: Playa Mazatlan, Los Sábalos Hotel and El Cid Marina

Pancho's-Excellent, authentic Mexican food on the ocean. Small, tastesfully decorated, located right on the beach. Friendly staff. Definately not a cheesy Americanized place. Try the special coffee that they light on fire!

Carlos and Lucia's-Quiet, small, located in a pretty square in the middle of historic Mazatlan. There was really good jazzy live music while we ate. Very good food.

Senor Frog's-Crazy and yes, geared towards tourists, but somewhere you should go w/friends or as a couple. They blast cheesy dance music and shower you with drinks while you eat. They also have a dance floor. Not good food but fun atmosphere (if you're into that kind of party atmosphere...we're usually not hard core partygoers but it was fun for an evening)

Least Favorite:
Casa Loma- (AKA Crappa Loma) We never understood why the tourbooks recommended this place. First of all it looks scary...dark red walls and dark wood. Second of all, the food was the worst we've ever had ANYWHERE! My husband's food looked and tasted like dog food. Mine wasn't much better. Major stomach upset afterwards!

Vista Tours. Tour of Copala- It was too cold to swim or scuba dive in the ocean when we visited. So we took a tour instead of the Mountain villages surrounding Mazatlan. We really enjoyed it but keep in mind that the tour takes longer than they say it does. They're on "Mexican Time"

Recomended Bars/Clubs: Oyster Bar and Bora Bora (you must check out Bora Bora if you like to go to clubs...it's so beautiful, on the beach and FUN)

Advice: If you see a crowd of locals flocking to somewhere, follow them!

We were there at XMas time so it was colder than we wanted it to be. Some days were cloudy. On sunny days it ranged from mid 70's to low 80's with a breeze. I often wore a t-shirt with a long sleeve shirt and sweatshirt (layers). Nighttime was cold and windy.

I hear that Spring is warmer but filled w/Spring Breakers (you'll find less of them though at the Pueblo Bonito Emerald Bay) and summer is hot.

2 Thank aseef
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Level 5 Contributor
67 reviews
61 helpful votes
“Poor Man's Paradice”
Reviewed 22 January 2008

My Wife and I were in Mazatlan over Christmass '07. Although they had the coldest winter in 35 years, not a day over 72 deg F, we did enjoy our stay and had no shortage of things to do.

I would start by recommending a hotel accross the street from the beach, that has a pool. They are less expensive, and the pools are warmer than the ocean. You can get easy access to the beach regardless of where you are staying but the water was below 70 when we were there, so swimming was out of the question. Bring some warm clothing for the evenings, as most of the restaurants are open patios and the breeze seems to pick-up at night.

We stayed in the golden zone... A 3 mile strip of hotels along the coast. The beach makes for a nice walk. When you get tired, just start walking back along the strip and sooner or later, a Pulmonia will try to pick you up and give you a ride. Pulmonia's are basically a golf-cart body mounted on a beetle chasis. They are the tourist taxi service in Mazatlan. Just make sure to negotiate your fare before getting in. To give you an idea, I was able to negotiate a 50 peso fare ($5) from the down-town market to the EL Cid resort. Roughly a 20 mintute ride. If you don't like their price, keep walking. Another will be along 10 seconds later.

Activities are numerous and many tours are available along the strip in the golden zone. Stone Island is a popular day trip. I posted a separate review for those interested. The Mercado (market) down town by the cathedral is definately worth a visit.. Lots of shops and food to try. If staying in the golden zone, regular bus service will get you there in 30 minutes for 5 pesos. I asked the clerk at one of the cheese shops if I could taste some of their local cheese. she gave me a piece of everything on the counter with a smile. I bought a piece for 20 pesos and told her to keep the change as thanks. Just remember that everything is negotiable if there isn't a written price and you can easily drop 50 pesos off of anything you see, if not more. I found walking away if they didn't like my price to be the best tactic.They will grab your arm and try to make the sale.

As for retaurants and bars. The food is mostly good. Avoid tourist traps. The wait staff in the less touristy areas don't speak english, but are eager to please. I found customer service to be excellent regardless of language. Gratuities are expected... By the waiter and by the musicians and singers if they should happen to come by your table. But if you are not interested, a simple 'No gracias!' and a smile will suffice. Verry polite and friendly locals. If you get homesick, go to Canucks bar and restaurant near the southern end of the beach. It's a bar owned by a Canadian couple but with a Mexican twist. Sign the wall before you leave.

If you like horseback riding, take the Cerritos Juarez bus out to Playa Bruja (Witche's Beach). My wife and I took a 1.5 hour horseback ride at Ginger's Bilingual Horses (the horses understand English and Spanish as do the guides) for 350 pesos ($35) They take you through the bush, the shore, up a cliff, through a coconut plantation and finally on the beech. Our horses were well cared for and our guide was fluent in english and verry friendly. Ginger, the owner, is an American who runs the palce. I recommend callling ahead or going eraly in the morning to reserve a ride time.

Mazatlan also has many stores that remind me of home. They have a Sam's club (Costco) and a large grocery store called Gigante that sells just about everything you need at non-tourist prices. Try a bottle of Toni Col while you are there. It's the regional popular soft-drink, Vanilla flavoured. Verry good. For Tequilla, buy a bottle of Don Jullio Resposado. It's roughly 32$, but it's the good stuff. Amber color and made for sipping. I didn't like tequilla until I tried this. You will not have any trouble finding Clamato Juice in Mazatlan. It's everywhere!. But it's made by Nestle.

To conclude, my wife and I had a good time. Getting there and back from Montreal was the hardest part, but worth the trip.

7 Thank Chris_Hickson
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Level 4 Contributor
31 reviews
19 helpful votes
“Land of the timeshare sales presentations”
Reviewed 26 November 2007

We went for a week over Thanksgiving. Weather was perfect. Not a single cloud until the last day. Low 80's during the day and 60's at night. We had a great time, but will never go back because of the incessescent and everpresent attempts to get you into timeshare sales presentations. From the moment you step out of the airport, to the moment you step back in. From cab drivers, to bellhops, to waiters... everyone is in on this feeding frenzy because the resorts offer them cash commisions as incentives. And the pulmonia drivers honk/whistle evertime they pass to try and give you a ride, even when you are just walking down the block, for which they will try and charge you a much higher rate and then will bargain down.
Fascinating. By the end, we were used to the program and were having a great time.
Playa Norte is a great place to sit at a palapa restaurant and drink pacificos as the sun sets. Pancho's is a great restaurant. Copala is a beautiful old mountain town well worth a visit. Playa Machado is nice in the evening and has several worthwhile restaurants. Stone Island is worth your own trip, but do not take the organized trips from the resort. We had a great time - see other reviews - but talked with others who hated their experience on the katamaran.
I'll post a more in depth review later. just wanted to get this one out.

2 Thank kaybo
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Omaha, Nebraska
Level 6 Contributor
122 reviews
42 helpful votes
“April in Mazatlan-long”
Reviewed 30 April 2007

My husband and I just returned from a wonderful week in Mazatlan. The weather was perfect, warm but not hot (although some of the locals told me it was unusually mild) with sunny blue skies. The ocean was a little cool for my tastes (I like Florida in July) but we still enjoyed it. There were few other visitors and we had plenty of space wherever we went, even the days the last of the Cruise ships were in town.

We stayed at the Costa de Oro and found it to be decent lodgings, although the housekeepers were inconsistent in their provision of coffee, water, hand towels and washcloths. Pancho, the tour guy who sits in the lobby was terrific. I could not have asked for more attentive service. He definitely went above and beyond.

I’m an avid shrimp lover so I thought the food was great, and there were many fine restaurants within walking distance of the hotel. I never got enough courage to try just any sidewalk café with an open air kitchen, but what we did choose was plenty good, and the service was excellent. I’m shrimp-satiated for at least the next week.

Mazatlan itself was a study in contradictions. The tourist areas were clean and well kept, while the outlying areas evidenced serious poverty with minimal living conditions. The trip from the airport had me a little worried at first. Despite that, ALL the people I met were friendly and seemed to be hardworking folks.

I had enquired earlier about handicapped accessibility in the city and some people told me it would be OK. It wasn’t. Even in the Golden Zone, the sidewalks are not made for pushing a manual wheelchair. My mobility-limited sister ended up canceling her participation in the trip and it turned out to be a good thing. She would not have been able to enjoy much of what we did. The vans for the tours could not have handled a wheelchair user either and even the hotel had steps to get to the beach level. No criticism of Mazatlan intended, just a reality check for anyone thinking they will be able to use a wheelchair in the city.

For first-timers, the tours are a great way to get oriented. We took the city tour, Stone Island, and the country tour up into the mountains. Next time we will feel comfortable to go on our own, but I need to brush up my minimal Spanish language skills to feel able to communicate outside the Golden Zone.

We went to the Mexican Fiesta at the Playa Mazatlan and even though it was more of a Las Vegas style show than an authentic representation of the national art forms, we thoroughly enjoyed it. Watch those happy-hour two at a time Margaritas though—I had a little too much fun and we ended up taking a cab back to our hotel due to my inability to walk the distance.

I think the time-share folks were more aggressive than usual, due to the lack of other tourists, but for the most part they were decent when we said “no thank you.” A few grabbed our arms in an attempt to pull us in and we got lots of offers for $200 cash just to listen to the sales pitch toward the end of the week. Some new friends we met at the hotel sat through multiple presentations and ended up with all their fun and tours paid for. You can certainly do that but it’s not my ideal way to spend half a day. We sat through just one.

All in all it was an enjoyable visit and we WILL be back again (maybe to retire in a few years.)

1 Thank tlcottrell
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Marlborough, Massachusetts
Level 6 Contributor
140 reviews
95 helpful votes
“Miles of pristine empty beach.”
Reviewed 11 March 2007

Mazatlan is a quiet little tourist area on the Pacific coast of Mexico that has not yet succumbed to the status of "tourist trap." My husband and I went there for a week vacation at the beginning of March 2007. Traveling from New England to Mexico we packed only shorts, tee shirts, and tank tops. The only warm clothes we had was what we wore to the airport. The days in Mazatlan were beautiful and sunny, if a little on the breezy side. The highs were in the 80s and we never saw a drop of rain. However at night it got downright chilly. If I had realized how chilly it got I would have packed more warm clothes. The lows were down in the 50s plus the wind off the beach. We were often shivering at outdoor resteraunts in our jeans and light longsleeve shirts. The locals told us the wind and the colder weather was not normal and that it would be warming up, but it was really only chilly at night.

The wind was also cause for riptide surf, this was no problem for me and my husband as we went swimming anyways but anyone with children or anyone who is elderly should not go in the riptide. We probably shouldn't have either.

The most notable thing to me about Mazatlan was the miles and miles of empty beach. Our hotel was a few miles outside of the downtown area and our beach was never crowded and the beach next to our hotel was just deserted. There was just miles and miles of empty beach. If you didn't want to sit in front of your hotel with other people you could walk a few hundred yards and have your own private beach. You could take a walk by yourself and pass only a few people. There are defiantly not hordes of people vying for the best spot on the beach here.

The great thing about Mazatlan was the transportation was abundant if a little confusing. If you are ready to just go with the flow and learn as you go then you will be fine. There are city buses that run throughout the city and out to the hotels on the outskirts that are 5 pesos (roughly 50 cents) to ride. There are 4 that run throughout the tourist area and are outlined on the tourist map that are available in the hotels. Basically you just wave at the bus when you see the one you want coming (the name of it is scrawled on the window) and it stops. When you want to get off there is a little button to push. There are no real bus stops that we could determine. There is one bus that goes past the Gigante which is a grocery store and then further on into the historic distric; and one that goes into the downtown area and the Golden Zone. These buses are much better than cabs because they are so cheap and run all day long. They end around 8-8:30 but make sure you give yourself plenty of time to get back to your hotel because wherever you are around 8:30ish when the bus driver feels he is done he will stop and tell you to get off the bus, whether or not you are at your hotel. We ended up having to walk about a mile back to our hotel in the dark one night because it was 8:20 and our driver was at his turn around point.

If buses aren't your things there are millions of taxis driving around just dying to have your business. Mazatlan is also very walkable. We walked all over the city and the downtown area and the historic district and never felt unsafe. Mazatlan is primarily a fishing port and does a lot of shrimping. There are resteraunts everywhere serving shrimp, shrimp, mahi mahi, and more shrimp. If you are a vegetarian don't bother going here. Overall Mazatlan hasn't been built up into a huge resort town yet but it seems like it is on it's way there. We saw a lot of construction while we were down there. A lot of condos for sale. It was a great place if you are looking for a quiet vacation with some exploring.

1 Thank LisaPunk01
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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