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Taking five kids to Mazatlan from New Zealand

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Taking five kids to Mazatlan from New Zealand

Are we nuts? We normally take the kids to Bali, but it is unstable there right now so are thinking of Hawaii or Mexico and I know very little about either so would REALLY appreciate advice.

Kids range from 18 months to 20. Two surf. Looking for consistent waves suitable for intermediate surfers, in a place not too touristy but with some options for the others to do. We usually avoid cities and really busy areas, and stay 3 - 4 star, not luxury but not backpackers either.

Am happy to dispense information /advice about New Zealand!


Austin, Texas
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1. Re: Taking five kids to Mazatlan from New Zealand

I just got back from Maz and loved it. Been to Hawaii a few times too...and the waves are for surfing there, if that's what you're looking for.

IMO, Maz did not have big enough surfing waves and was more for hanging out at the beach, experiencing the culture, lots of eating, etc.

I do not care to go back to Hawaii, but that's because I just didn't like the big waves and steep drop offs (I am not a strong swimmer).

Sunriver, Oregon
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2. Re: Taking five kids to Mazatlan from New Zealand

I have seen locals surfing in two locations. Off the point by Valentinos and Playa Bruja. The guy we rent from when we are down there is a local surfer....

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3. Re: Taking five kids to Mazatlan from New Zealand

First chapter of my book, "Maztlan IS Paradise." Hope this helps

On our very first visit to Mazatlán, my wife, Katherine, and I, like many first-time visitors, immediately fell in love with the city many call “The Pearl of the Pacific.” It was not just the temperate climate, miles of beautiful sandy beaches, gorgeous sunsets, countless tourist activities, but also the laid-back lifestyle and friendliness of the Mexican people that impressed us. In fact, we made plans for our return to Mazatlán before our vacation was completed.

Our second day in Mazatlán, Katherine and I purchased a week timeshare at The Inn at Mazatlán. We returned every year and during our fifth year purchased a second week. We had met friendly American and Canadian visitors, numerous employees of The Inn, and Mexican business people. Each year, our circle of friends increased and we looked forward with anticipation to returning and renewing our friendships and meeting new people. The more often we returned, the more we were convinced that we would like a retirement home in Mazatlán. In 1998, our dreams were realized and we purchased a home in El Dorado, just two blocks east of The Inn! Since then, we have spent our winters away from rainy western Washington State and in the Pearl of the Pacific.

Numerous visitors from north of the border vacation in Mazatlán and return many times—some eventually retiring in Mazatlán. What are the attractions?

Climate: Mazatlán is the beginning of the Mexican tropics, where summer is never-ending. The tropic of Cancer is about 15 miles north of Mazatlán, so the city enjoys a little bit of the arid North as well as some of the humid South. The temperature fluctuates, depending on the time of the year. I’ve found the best months are from November through May. This is the period when most “Snowbirds” winter in Mazatlán. It is usually cool at night, which is ideal for sleeping, and sunny and balmy during the day. Believe me, waking up every morning to sunshine does not get boring. While my friends living in the Olas Altas and downtown areas of Mazatlán sometime complain about mosquitoes, we, in the Golden Zone, are relatively free of pesky insects.

June starts to get hot (much like the Atlantic Seaboard of the U.S.), and heavy rains sometimes occur during July through September. The summers are hot and muggy, but the rains usually hit at night. The beautiful green water is warm until December, when cooling begins, but swimming is comfortable year-round. It took me a few years to realize that the western Washington summer climate of temperatures ranging between the low 70s and mid 80s compares to the best in the United States. This is the climate in Mazatlán during the “tourist season.” I enjoy the best of both worlds—year round!

I must add that climate is a matter of acclimation, too. Every morning at 6:00 A.M., I jog on the Malecón in tee shirt and shorts while the Mexican nationals dressed in heavy jogging suits and light jackets watch me in wonderment. I also realize that many people like hot weather and if that is what you’re looking for, Mazatlán in the summer is the place for you.

I heard a great story about an incident during the hurricane season, which is from July to October. It seems there was a big hurricane in the 1980s that caused a lot of damage and flooding. The flooding was so bad that some cattle were washed out to sea. The Alejandra Coppel family owned a sardine fleet, and like many locals, headed out fishing right away because the flooding washes food out into the ocean and the fish come in to eat.

The family threw out their nets at night and the nets became so heavy that the boat tipped to one side. They thought they really had a lot of fish and were mentally counting the pesos as the nets were raised. To their surprise, the nets contained live cows. The cows were probably tired of treading water, and glad to be netted. The fishermen couldn’t throw the beef-on-the-hoof back, so they left them grazing on the decks. They returned to port and emptied their cargo so they could return for some “serious fishing.”

Location: Found on the west coast of Mexico, due east of the tip of the Baja Peninsula, Mazatlán is easily accessible by air, land and sea. Among the resort cities of the “Mexican Riviera,” Mazatlán is the closest to cities in the western U.S. and Canada. Modern, high-speed, air-conditioned buses run from the border at Nogales to Mazatlán, 720 miles away. The trip can be made comfortably by vehicle in two days over a four-lane divided highway. There are also buses from Tijuana and El Paso.

Economical: I have visited Puerto Vallarta and Acapulco, and Mazatlán has the reputation for being the best resort buy on the “Mexican Riviera.” It far surpasses Hawaii. If you like to travel first-class, luxury resorts are available. There are many other outstanding living quarters, but they all have one thing in common—the dollar stretches further in Mazatlán. The strength of the U.S. dollar compared to the Mexican peso helps even more. Several years ago, someone at the airport complained that his luggage did not arrive with his plane. I told him not to worry about it. Mazatlán is the only place I know where one can get along with just a swimsuit and toothbrush.

Shopping: If your luggage is lost and you feel you need more than a toothbrush and swimsuit, don’t panic, you can shop till you drop in Mazatlán. I have visited Pier1 in Olympia, Washington, and markets in San Antonio, Texas, and found the prices to be two-three times higher than those in Mazatlán for Mexican jewelry, pottery, glassware, clothing, leather, and other crafts. Further, I have met friends at the cruise dock in Mazatlán and taken them shopping and they all expressed amazement at the cheaper price of those items in Mazatlán compared to La Paz, Puerto Vallarta, and Acapulco.

Easygoing way of life: While Mexico may not have invented “Mañana,” the Mazatlecos (Mazatlán citizens) do their part to perpetuate it. While a couple Americans have told me about individual incidents of heated arguments with Mazatlecos, I have never experienced it. They are incredibly friendly and helpful to a fault.

A couple years ago my friend Vicki from the states came down with a stomach ailment and was confined to her room. My amigo, Paco, a shop owner and beach vendor, saw us at the Inn at Mazatlán. Not seeing her, he said, “Where is your friend?”

“She is sick with the ‘revenge,’” her husband replied.

“Get her dressed and I’ll get my car and take her to my doctor.”

Thirty minutes later he arrived with his vehicle and whisked her off to his doctor. He stayed with her during the doctor’s examination as an interpreter, and an hour later they were returning to The Inn at Mazatlán with a prescription. Twenty-four hours later she was back to her normal tourist activities.

Fishing: Mazatlán was famous for its great sport fishing long before it became a major tourist attraction. There are a large number of charter boats that take aboard about 9,000 sailfish and marlin annually. There are charter bottom fishing boats as well as fishing from the beach. There are countless lakes nearby that produce excellent bass fishing.

The City: Mazatlán has more than 12 miles of wide sandy beaches that seem to go on forever. A picturesque Malecón (an oceanfront promenade) is a center for Mazatlecos and tourists alike for walking, exercising and people watching.

Unique to other tourist cities along the coasts of Mexico, Mazatlán is a commercial city. No question, it has the mega-resorts in the Golden Zone, but there are not the big housing areas occupied permanently by expatriates, like in Guadalajara. I live on a block in which I am the only foreign citizen. I have Canadian and U.S. friends who live in almost all areas of the city. Most of them have integrated into their Mexican communities with few problems.

The downtown area of Mazatlán is only a short bus ride from the tourist zone, and completely different from the resort areas. It has a bustling central market where shopping daily for fresh food is a way of life carried over from the days prior to refrigeration. The “Old Town” and Olas Altas areas have been rejuvenated the past few years and the number of artists-in-residence has increased. The Plazuela Machado, four short blocks from the central market, has sidewalk cafés where one can sit quietly in the shade enjoying a local beer or soft drink while watching the senior citizens on the park benches talk while the children laugh and chase each other around the gazebo.

During the evening hours, tourists enjoy themselves with the loud music in the many discos and bars in the Golden Zone, or take an inexpensive taxi ride to “old town” and visit the recently renovated Angela Peralta Theater for classical music and dance. Student bands perform occasionally on the Plazuela Machado in the evening.

Good restaurants abound throughout the city and prices range from very cheap to very expensive. While the specialty is shrimp—Mazatlán is the shrimp capital of the world—seafood, beef and chicken are also in abundance. Vegetarian restaurants can be found in the city if one makes some inquiries.

Modern shopping centers are abundant throughout the city. The Gran Plaza shopping center is just three blocks from the tourist area and includes many excellent shops, a large supermarket, a huge department store and a multiplex movie theater. A modern Sam’s Club is a block away. A Wal-Mart opened in 2002.

Areas of the city: As the city has expanded northward, wiser people than me have provided names for the various areas. Or perhaps, the areas were named for commercial reasons.

Golden Zone: This is the major tourist area and extends from the El Cid Marina south to Valentino’s, which is the large white building that appears to be a castle, but in fact is a complex of discos and restaurants. The Golden Zone is where most of the tourists stay and play.

Malecón: This is a beautiful boulevard called Avenida Del Mar that runs from Valentino’s south to the Fisherman’s Monument where the street becomes Paseo Claussen, and continues on to Olas Altas.

Olas Altas and downtown area: This is the older section of the city where tourism began, and is experiencing a rebirth, which I discussed earlier.

Beaches: The beach or Playa seems to go on forever. There are, however, a few breaks in the beach. I’ll describe the beaches going from north to south:

Playa Delfin: The northern-most beach is relatively isolated except for the Pueblo Bonito, Emerald Bay Hotel complex. To get there, take Sábalo Cerritos road to the Highway 15 bypass. Turn north just before you reach the railroad tracks. Very few people go there, so you’ll have a lot of privacy. The down side is that once you pass Pueblo Bonito the road is dirt, dusty and rutted. The bus does not go to Playa Delfin.

Playa Cerritos: It is at the end of the line for bus transportation. There are a couple of nice cafés there and Ginger’s bilingual horses. During the week, tourists go there to explore, while on the weekend locals use it as a picnic area. It has a long sandy beach. Playa Bruja is a small beach that is adjacent to Playa Cerritos.

Playa Escondida: This beach is used primarily by hotel renters and timeshare owners and extends four miles. It starts at the tide pools at Punta Cerritos and stretches all the way to the mouth of the inlet of Marina Mazatlán. Most of the beach is excellent for swimming. If you want to watch the more daring surfers, head up to the north end.

Playa Camarón Sábalo and Playa Gaviotas: This is where the action is for most tourists. It extends from south of the Marina Mazatlán or El Cid Marina Hotel, all the way south to Valentino’s. The vast majority of the beaches are okay for swimming, but some stretches are a little better. This is the area where I take my daily walks and do most of my people watching.

With all the beach vendors in the area, it is a virtual shopping mall. There are volleyball games, soccer games, beach fishing, swimming, sun bathing, walkers and dancers, and even an occasional traveling Mariachi band. During college spring break, you can even catch a dance contest or “hard body” contest. This is where most of the “fun-in-the-sun” takes place.

Playa Norte: This beach parallels the Malecón and extends from Valentino’s to just south of the Fisherman’s Monument, four miles away. It is great for swimming, and most days you can sit on the Malecón wall and watch the surfers or on Sunday see the locals playing baseball games or soccer. Between 6 and 7 A.M. go just south of the Fisherman’s Monument and watch the fishermen sell their daily catch.

Olas Altas: This is the original tourist beach in Mazatlán, which was popular in the 1940s. It is located just south of “ice box hill.” You can sit on the small beach and enjoy watching the surfers and wind surfers. Afterwards, cross the street and sit in one of the sidewalk cafés and do some people watching while sipping a cool one.

Stone Island: It is not really an island, but a peninsula, with miles of great beaches. It is a 10-minute ferryboat ride from the docks near the old marina, and adjacent to La Puntilla Restaurant. The ferry is an outboard motor boat that carries 10-15 passengers. Walking, swimming, people watching, quad riding, and horseback riding are among the many activities there. Cafés such as Lety’s are available for refreshments during your visit.

Clips of Mazatlán: For great still pictures of Mazatlán go to Elliot Deutsch website at www.lilaw.info/mazatlan1.htm. For a superb promotional video got to this site mazatlaninteractivo.com.mx/new/en/index.php. Once there find the “new features”. Right click on “link,” then left click on “save target as.” Save it to your computer. Once that is completed double left click on it. You may not have “quicktime” on your computer, so go to http://www.apple.com/quicktime/download/. There is no fee for this download. Be patient while doing this as the video is well worth it.

Fargo, North Dakota
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4. Re: Taking five kids to Mazatlan from New Zealand

When we vacationed a year ago December, the two places we saw local surfers were Olas Altas and Playa Bruja.

My girls - who had never surfed before - took lessons from Robert Hudson and had a great time. You could try to email him and see if he has any advice on where to go. His web site is www.hudsontours.com.

Mazatlan, Mexico
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5. Re: Taking five kids to Mazatlan from New Zealand

Hi Kiwi. The surf conditions will depend a lot on time of the year. Right now, pretty small (From 6” to 2 feet). Starting about may it picks up a bit (From 1 foot to 3 feet) and by July, IF there is a storm in the Pacific we can have 3 to 7 feet. Also, it depends on WHERE you go in Mazatlan. We have over 17 miles of beach. Some face north west, some west, some south west. So sometimes there is lousy surf in one place, but decent in another. A good site to check out is; mazatlansurfcenter.com/eng/flash_index.htm I have no connection with them, a friends son owns the place. Very helpful nice guys. When are you coming? May have some of my grandkids for a visit.