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Looking for something to do for a day, or just off a cruise ship. Here are a few ideas put together by our Destination Expert, Mazexp.
Cruise Ships: Over 200 cruise ships stop in Mazatlán for about 8-10 hours a day each year. Mexican produced goods are much cheaper in Mazatlán than other Mexican Riviera stops such as Puerto Vallarta and Acapulco.
Another way of saving money is instead of taking a city tour or shopping tour package through the cruise line, take one of the many taxis or Pulmonias waiting at the dock. Tell the driver that you want to shop where the cruise line passengers are not taken, which is in the Golden Zone on Camarón Sábalo. Make sure you negotiate the price before you get in, since the drivers will assume you are rich. It should cost you no more than $8.00 U.S. to ride to the Golden Zone.
You will get even better prices for Mexican goods, because shop keepers along Gaviotis in the Golden Zone and downtown charge higher prices to the cruise line passengers, identified by the little tag on their shirt. Better yet, tell the driver to take you to “Here is Paco” gift shop, across from Christine’s Hair Salon on Camarón Sábalo in the Golden Zone. If you bring your copy of, “Mazatlan IS Paradise” he’ll give you an even bigger discount.
If you take a ship-sponsored tour of the city or shopping trip, walk at least one-half block from where you are dropped. Some tour guides get a kickback from sales made at the places taken. Guess who pays the tour guide? Just ask the tour guide how much time you have to shop, then wander off and do your shopping, knowing that you will get the best price possible by negotiating on your own.
I have been asked several times what I would do if I had one day in the port of Mazatlán. It depends on personal preferences. If you are into the “Herd mentality” or just prefer having skilled tour guides enhance the experience with good information, go on a shore excursion tour.
That said, if you would like a taste of the countryside, take the Sierra Madre tour. It is usually 7-9 hours in length, and an air conditioned bus will take you to the centuries-old village of Concordia where you can actually see bricks, tiles, and furniture being manufactured. You will be amazed with the ancient tools used and the beautiful artistry of the finished products. While there visit the cathedral and park. You will then go further into the Sierra Madres and stop at a little silver mining town called Copala. While a few American and Canadians live there, this village will take you back into time. Don’t miss visiting the recently repaired church. Oh yes, no one leaves Copala without partaking of Daniel’s world famous coconut crème pie.
Most ships provide a shore excursion called something like, “Old Mazatlán Walking Tour.” You will be guided through the narrow streets where you can visit the old Angela Peralta Theater, cathedral, central market, and a couple museums. You should learn a great deal about the history of Mazatlán. They will take you to the Golden Zone for shopping, but beware—the place they drop you will be where all the cruise ships send shore excursions—and the prices are higher. I suggest that you stay in the downtown area and have lunch at one of the sidewalk cafes, then wave down a Pulmonia driver and tell him to take you to “Here is Paco,” gift shop.
Take the Sábalo Centro bus from the tourist zone heading toward downtown and get off at the Central Market on the Serdan side. Take in the sights and smells of the Central Market. Mazatlecos follow the time-honored tradition of shopping daily. You can find everything in the market from “tourist items,” to meat and vegetables. As you shop, be sure to negotiate prices with the vendors. There are restrooms on the second floor for a small fee.
Exit on the opposite side of the one-block square market. The street is called B. Juarez. As you exit, turn left (heading south), and walk past Panama Bakery/Restaurant and Fabricas de Francia. Cross the street and enter the famous Catedral Basilica de la Purisima Concepcion, which is the centerpiece of Mazatlán. Built on a filled lagoon, the Cathedral was started by the Bishop Pedro y Pardave in 1856. Completion was delayed due to many circumstances until 1899. In 1937, it was elevated to the status of a basilica. Its beauty and grandeur are breathtaking. The Cathedral is open from 6 A.M.-1 P.M. and 4 -8 P.M. daily.
When you exit the front of the Cathedral, cross the street to the Centro Plaza de la Republica, where there is a beautiful wrought-iron bandstand. If you have time, enjoy a shoeshine and relax on a park bench for people watching.
On the west side of the plaza is the Palacio Municipal (city hall) where the mayor, on the eve of Independence Day on September 16, provides words of patriotism to a celebrating crowd. The city hall is also where property taxes are paid.
Continue south down B. Juarez, turn right at Constitucion, and go one block to Plazuela Machado. It is a beautiful park that has a gazebo stage. Restaurants that have tasty Mexican dishes surround the plaza. Stop at one of the cafés where you can rest, enjoy your lunch and people watch.
From the east side of the Plaza turn right. On your left will be the famous Angela Peralta Theater. Go in for a look at its splendor. They ask for a $1 U.S. donation to enter. There is usually a kiosk in front advertising coming attractions. The old traditional El Tunel Restaurant faces the entrance, along with a coffee/pastry shop displaying yummy desserts.
Take Calle Sixto Osuna from the Plazuela Machado, toward the ocean a few blocks. At Calle Sixto Osuna 76, enter the Museo de Arqueologia. The museum contains excellent exhibits of the history and culture of Sinaloa. On display are petroglyphs, figurines of animals and humans, and the ancient polychrome pottery of Sinaloa. Entrance fee is about $1 U.S. The museum is open Tuesday-Sunday, 10 A.M.-1 P.M. and 4 -7 P.M.
Next-door is the Art & Web Internet Café. Contact your friends at home for about $1 U.S. per hour. They have friendly, English-speaking staff.
The Mazatlán Reading Library is next door heading west. Stop and do a little browsing, and even drop a small donation.
Across the street, stop and see the Casa de la Cultura. You may see an art exhibit, a musical or dramatic performance or even a literary reading.
Walk west one-half block and you will find Olas Altas, the original tourist area of Mazatlán. Stop at one of the sidewalk cafes and have a soft drink or beer, enjoy the soft sea breeze, and soak up the flavor of old Mazatlán. You will always find a group of Gringo residents at Canucks Restaurant, about 200 meters North of Shrimp Bucket, in late afternoon, waiting for the sunset. Stop and say hello. Since the tourist resort area is miles away, I suggest you hail a pulmonia for the refreshing ride along the Malecón to the Golden Zone. Or you can wait for the Sábalo Centro bus back to the tourist zone.
If you still have time and strength after your downtown tour, you can head north for a stroll along the Malecón—but I suggest you save this trip for another day.
Your stroll on the Malecón will start with a bus ride on the Sábalo Centro bus from the tourist zones, heading south. Tell the driver to let you off at Fisherman’s Monument. This monument has experienced a great deal of notoriety. After recovering from shock, head south to the Thirty-first of March Fort, which was built to repel the French invaders in 1868. The Continuity of Life Monument, a fountain erected in 1993, is next. It is a naked man and woman poised on a snail shell, which stands for continuity in the Aztec culture. There are 13 dolphins that represent intelligence.
You will next arrive at the diving tower, and if you are lucky, divers will be performing. Across the street is Ice Box Hill (Cerro de Neveria). In the late 19th century, ice was shipped from San Francisco, stored in a cave and used to keep the city’s fish fresh. During the Mexican Revolution, dynamite was stored there. On the red wrought iron gate is a sign marked “Cueva Diablo,” which means Devil’s Cave. Cross the street again and you’ll encounter the Women of Mazatlán Monument. The state of Sinaloa is famous in Mexico for its beautiful women, because so many locals have won the “Miss Mexico” title.
A short distance south is the Deer Monument, a tribute to the pre-conquistador ancient history. Mazatlán is “The Place of the Deer,” in Nahuatl, so the statue is “our” symbol. Now you can stroll over to one of the Olas Altas Cafés for a cool drink, and wait to catch a bus ride back to the tourist zone via the market.