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“SURF RIU Emerald Bay, Mazatlan!”

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Hotel Riu Emerald Bay
Ranked #12 of 80 Hotels in Mazatlan
Reviewed May 10, 2013

Surf Info: ^^^ If you not a strong swimmer/ advanced surfer do not surf in front of the RIU, the rip is strong and will pull you into the rocks on the North side of the break, you will see these just to your right if your on the beach just in front of RIU.

I wasn't able to find much info about surfing/ board rentals close to RIU online before my trip, or at reception for that matter. Even though you can book lessons through one of the excursion desk in the lobby... But, with a little luck or good karma I found a spot- Witches Beach- just North of the RIU that breaks all year! When your ready to surf:
1. Walk out of the RIU to the beach
2. Head North (right) You will see the point, waves, an awesome local doing head stands on his
3. On the weekends, you may find boards/ lessons for rent on the beach here. If not, just make a
right at the restaurant and a left when you see the small strip mall. The Looney Bean Coffee
Shop has plenty of boards, around 60 USD for a week...
4. When you paddle out, the channel is next to the rocks, easy paddle out.
5. The locals are cool, have fun and catch some waves.

This is the only break in Mazatlan that is good all year, guaranteed to get some waves!

You can talk with one of the excursion desks in the lobby, I think they use a surf shop in the Golden Zone.
When you rent a board ask the owner of the Coffee shop about lessons, I believe he has a friend giving lessons.
Or, just look for the guys on the beach on the weekends.

I hope this is helpful, if so leave a comment so I know this was helpful.

Noroc from Romania, for now

Stayed: April 2013, traveled as a couple
6  Thank Nick L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed May 9, 2013

This was my first trip to Mexico and my first stay at an all-inclusive resort. At first I was very impressed with the resort. The property is clean, the staff is incredibly friendly, and there are plenty of resources for travellers. The one thing that did not fly was the food. The open buffet was fine for a couple days, but it began to seriously affect my stomach. I spent 2 of my 7 nights in bed with intense stomach cramps, diarrhea and nausea. I may have even had a fever. I've been home for 2 days now and still feel horrible.

I wouldn't shy away from this place completely, but I would keep in mind that foods like fresh fruit, salad, milk and anything cooked in water should be avoided, even at the resort.

  • Stayed: May 2013, traveled with friends
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2  Thank Maddy S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 8, 2013

We stayed, as a couple, at the Riu from April 26-May 3.

We flew Sunwing - prearranged our seats for $15 each. If you want a window seat and to sit beside the person you are going with I would recommend doing so. Very easy to do online or you can even call Sunwing and they will do it for you. They offered breakfast, champagne, a softdrink/juice, nuts, and a chocolate during the flight (pretty good for a 4.5 hour flight). I didn’t mind they food - the omelet is better than the french toast. If you ask for extra nuts they will usually give you more too!

Airport and Shuttle:
They used the exits at the front and back of the plane so it was pretty fast getting off. There was a little bit of a wait for luggage - maybe 25 minutes. Getting through customs was a breeze - press the button and hope for green. When you step outside the airport you will see Taxi’s and shuttle busses. Just look for your Sunwing Rep if that is who you booked through and they will point you to the right bus. We were offered beer outside of the bus for approx. $5 each. We declined because we thought they would sell beer on the bus- they don’t sell beer on the bus so you’re better off to order it outside or just wait until you get to the resort. During the 40 minute ride to the Riu you will see a lot of dry land, some beat up buildings, nicer buildings, and even a prison. Do NOT worry about the scenery - the closer you get to Mazatlan the better it looks!! One you arrive at the Riu you stay on the bus for about 5 minutes - during this time they give you information and put your bracelets on (very efficient).

Check in and First Impressions:
Once you step into the resort you are offered beer and juice (take one of each). You may also be offered Tequilla - it is very delicious! You get a sticker to put on your luggage - you put your room number on it and once your room is ready they will bring your luggage up to your room. They keep your luggage in the lobby and it is watched. My fiancé wanted to put some things from his carry on back in his luggage and as soon as he unzipped his luggage someone that worked at the resort came to make sure it was his luggage and not someone else’s. We had to wait a couple of hours until our room was ready. We decided to get lunch and hit up the pool while we waited (the time flew by!).

We had a room with a king size bed on the 16th floor. Gorgeous view!! The room was very spacious, clean, and nicely decorated. The mini bar was fully stocked. The beer and pepsi in the mini fridge were our favorite - he gave us extra when he would restock it too! There is shower gel in a dispenser in the shower. There are 2 bars on soap and a wrapped shower cap on the vanity. The bed is a little hard but the pillows made up for it. There is a blanket in the top of the closet to use if you feel cold.

Breakfast was our favorite meal of the day. I loved the fresh pancakes, fruit, hash browns, cappuccinos (tasted like a french vanilla from Tim Hortons), and eggs benedict.

Lunch was the same every day. There was plenty to choose from - pastas, burgers, hot dogs, meat dishes, veggy dishes, potatoes/rice, desert, and icecream.

Dinner is very similar to lunch except that there is more to choose from. The soups at the dinners were my favorite! There was a lobster bisque that was to die for! The Italian restaurant served they same things that they had at the buffet. The Asian restaurant was very good. The spring rolls are worth the reservation alone!

One of the best parts about the buffet restaurants is that they allow you to bring food out of them. I brought my fiancé dinner one night because he was too tired to make it down and he brought me breakfast the next day to return the favor. We brought a lot of fruit to our room one night and packed it to bring on an excursion the next day - the bananas at the buffet have so much flavor.

The snacks at the sports bar are decent. They taste good but I think a burger that I had one night made me sick. I have a pretty sensitive stomach so I’m not 100% sure that it was the burger.

We went to the restaurant that you come across first when walking down the beach to the right of the resort (just up the stairs). The chips and salsa they serve you first are very tasty. The coconut shrimp is the best of the different kinds of shrimp. The lobster was okay. You didn’t get very much with it and the butter get hard pretty fast. One of our friends got the steak and it was better than the lobster (better price too - $13 for his meal). The exchange rate was good at this restaurant - $1 = 12.4 pesos. Pay with American if you have it.

Some reviews I saw prior to our trip complained about the coffee at the resort. Get a cappuccino at the sports bar (with or without Bailys) and you will be more than happy! We got cappuccino 2-3 times a day.

**if your room is located on the same side of the resort as the sports bar there is an exit behind the pool table that will take you just outside of the elevator

Pools and Ocean:
We only spent time in the pool with the swim up bar so I can’t comment on any of the other pools. The pool that we were in was the perfect temperature the whole trip. The bartenders at the swim up bar were fantastic! Very quick to serve you, made great drinks, very friendly to everyone, and they seemed to love their jobs. Nemo is the man!! That atmosphere at that pool changes every day. One day the pool will be the party place from the morning till the night and the next day it will be a little dead. I think it’s because the partiers from the day before need a break! There are little booths along the side of this pool - makes it great to socialize.

The ocean was beautiful. The sand was very soft and there were a lot of nice sea shells to collect. I can’t swim so I didn’t go out to far from the shore. My fiancé went out a bit further and he said the waves were rough but a lot of fun. The life guard won’t let you go out too far if it’s dangerous and if you wind up too far he will come in to save you. There was a nice breeze on the beach so if you tanned out there you wouldn’t get too hot.

The staff at the Riu are the best I have encountered on any of the trips I have been on (Dominican, Cancun, Mayan, Puerto Vallarta). They are very hard working but they don’t seem like they are. They are always so positive and friendly. If you need anything at all they are more than happy to help. They definitely made the trip.

On the shuttle bus to the resort we forgot our pouch that held all of our money and our passports. The lady on the bus went through the lobby and search for me. She got my name from my passport and I heard her calling for me. She returned our pouch and there was no money missing.

We forgot some money on our night stand when we went for breakfast one day (approx. $50). When we got back to our room everything was cleaned and all of the money was still sitting on the night stand. We didn’t have anything go missing (jewelry, money, etc.) during our stay at the Riu.

I read in some reports about theft at the resort so I was nervous. I do not think the staff was responsible for anything going missing! I am very thankful to the lady from the bus and the maid that cleaned our room for not taking advantage of the mistakes that we made!!

We went deep sea fishing with Emilio. The boys that went the day before us caught a 200 pound marlin so when we went we were hoping for the same luck. We weren’t as successful as them but we did catch a Bonita (ate it raw on the boat with salt, pepper, and lime - delicious!!). We also saw a marlin skip across the water, saw 2 huge sea turtles, and almost caught a shark (he was very tricky!)

Emilio forgot to get the salt, pepper, and lime ready for us so it cost us fishing time in the morning for him to grab. He also forgot to tell the crew on the boat that we were supposed to go battle fishing (off the shore for 2 hours. He is a very nice man but these mistakes didn’t impress us.

We went to the market instead of the golden zone and got much better deals. The market is indoors and is very fun! There weren’t many tourists here so you really felt the Mazatlan atmosphere. The people that worked in the shops made it a challenge to get a good deal but it was all in good fun and you eventually got them down to the price you were willing to pay.
The cathedral across from the market is beautiful. If you go on the cathedral property you get a very serene feeling. We bought a couple of crosses from a lady that worked there. The money that we spent went to good causes - I can’t remember what exactly.

There were 2 little girls playing music beside the McDonalds across from the Cathedral. We tipped them and bought them ice cream. A lot of the time the money that they are tipped goes to their family/parents so we felt good buying them ice cream because it was something that they could enjoy- especially on that hot afternoon.

There is a huge liquor store in the main road right across from the coast. The liquor here is priced amazingly!! Even better than the duty free. Don Julios was practically free at this liquor store.

Our cab driver was fantastic! He took us on a tour of the city, gave us plenty of tips, offered to come shopping with us to help us save money, and met us where he was supposed to. I have his card at home and can’t remember his name. If you want to know who he is please message me and I will tell you his name and phone number. He drives an open taxi with a shark fin on the top.

Other Guests:
Everyone that we came in contact with were very friendly. We made a lot of friends that we plan on keeping in contact with. If you are a bit shy and would still like to make friends just bring Red Solo cups and start a flip cup game like Quinn did. There was a group of about 20 of us that would hit up the theatre bar and disco almost every night. We didn’t have to go out of the resort to party on any of the night because we had such a wicked group of people at the resort!!

There are some locals that come to the resort. They were all very friendly and we made friends with some of them. The only issue we had was when we were in the Jacuzzi. We were there first on one half of it. There were a couple of Mexican woman on the other side. As time progressed more and more of their friends joined them. As soon as one of us would go to the bar they would move into our space and “take over”. We were eventually so squished in there that we decided to leave down to the beach. One of the girls with us had an injured knee so we asked them nicely to be careful around it. They just laughed and became a bit more aggressive (moved closer to her knee among other things). They were drinking and this could have easily happened with other Canadians/Americans but I think it was the language barrier that caused the situation to escalade.

The weather was beautiful the whole time that we were there. In the afternoon it was in the early to mid thirties every day. It cooled down at night but I never had to put a sweater/pants on. The breeze during the day was very refreshing. The sun is very strong in Mazatlan. I went tanning before I left and I still burnt (even with sunscreen on). I never burn here at home without sun screen on. I would recommend bringing sunscreen with you even if you are very tanned to begin with. Better to be safe then have to pay big money for it at the resort.

After getting souvenirs and alcohol our luggage was about the same weight when we left. The scales from the Edmonton airport and the Mazatlan airport must have worked in our favor. They weight your luggage together if you live in the same house hold so no need to try and balance out the suitcases when you pack everything up. Once you get up stairs there is a shop. Don’t but any liquids at this shop because you will not be allowed to bring them past Customs. There are 2 duty free shops on the other side of customs. If you plan on getting cigarettes you should get them at the duty free shops in the airport instead of on the plane (sometimes they run out on the plane).

If you have any questions please feel free to message me!!

  • Stayed: May 2013, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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    • Sleep Quality
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10  Thank --ashleyt--89
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 7, 2013

Just got back from two weeks at the RIU in Mazatlan. It was an awesome experience, The service was the best we every had. The rooms were very clean and spacious. The food was excellent, tons of choices at the Buffet. One of the best parts was the service and the staff. They were so friendly and helpful. You just had to ask once and things were done. If you wanted more water they were at your room within 10 min. or any other request you might have. The waiters, front desk staff, bartenders, security staff were exceptional,. Special mention to Victor at the bar and David at Security and one of the new managers Fillipe, WE had previously stayed at the RIU in Jamaica and obviously this is an excellent choice of hotels.

Room Tip: All rooms have ocean views. We were on the 14th floor at first but found it a little too high. Went...
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  • Stayed: April 2013, traveled with friends
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6  Thank suse02
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 7, 2013

The hotel is beautiful from the outside, but once you get in your room you can immediately feel a decline in quality. The beverages offered in your room and at the hotel bars are of the lowest quality I have ever seen in my life. We decided to buy our own at a nearby store, because what they had was undrinkable. Staff was friendly and the food was OK for a cheap all inclusive.

  • Stayed: May 2013, traveled with family
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5  Thank Cosiomd
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 7, 2013

We stayed March 15 to march 29. Check in was awesome. Everything done on the bus. Room was very nice, but the beds are doubles, and when you have 3 adults, it is a tight fit for one couple!!! ALL ROOMS ARE OCEANVIEW. Beautiful beach. (Steven is the best). We love going to Mexico, because we love the people. The stay we had was good, but there was so many locals that were so rude, that they felt they were more deserving of food/service, I found they butt in line all the time. Front desk staff were awesome. The little strip mall where the last drop burgers was was a nice evening out. I found that mazatlan was not as clean as other destinations we have gone, so was very disappointed in it. All and all it was a good holiday, but I don't think I will be going back..

  • Stayed: March 2013, traveled with friends
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2  Thank Hollywoods_wife
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 7, 2013

One word: Wow.

If you're looking for a location to take a romantic holiday, give Riu Emerald Bay some serious consideration. My boyfriend and I booked a mid-April week long vacation, with hotel and flight included (and this is all inclusive as well) for about $1,050, so it couldn't have been more of a steal. I'll briefly run down my pros and cons of the experience.

- The hotel itself! The rooms are spacious and overlook the ocean. Make sure you get a room on a floor higher than the 10th so you have a great view of the sunsets and sunrises, which are really magical (we watched quite a few from our balcony). Everything was meticulously clean, functional and restocked consistently. The design of the hotel makes it look new and quite luxurious, and the birds that sing and fly around the resort are really pretty and melodic; it sounds like paradise.

- The beach. This hotel is outside of the Golden Zone by about twenty minutes, so you have minimal beach vendors (there are still some, though), and minimal beach cluttering or crowding; just lots of space to relax and be peaceful. Absolutely no rocks. The water is great to swim in, too.

- The pools! I found them to be just the right temperature, great for lounging around. It was never too rowdy or too overrun with kids for my taste.

- The "Lobby Bar" is the best bar in the whole place; it's off to the left hand side when you're on the lobby level (where you check in/check out), and at night it's just a handful of friendly couples and a really awesome bartender named Jorge. The drinks here are not watered down, and are served in glass, not in plastic. It's classier.

- The staff. Our maids were so attentive, so thorough and so thoughtful; our first and last night on vacation, our bed was made and sprinkled with flower petals and little tissue origami of flowers. Whenever we needed anything we called the lobby, and they sent up our request (water, more beer, towels etc) within five minutes of making the call, and then made sure to call us a second time to confirm that we'd received what we requested. Twice we had family call the hotel, and a note was left on our door telling us who had called and even a little handwritten message of what they wanted to ask us! Everyone is friendly, gracious and no one felt forced or working for tips, nothing like that. Please do make sure that you tip them, though, because they work really hard and deserve all they can get.


- First and foremost ... you WILL get sick of the food. By the third day, we were really, reallllyyy happy to be eating somewhere that's not inside of the hotel. I think this is true about most all inclusives, and I am somewhat of a foodie so that might not have helped. What was most disappointing to us was the absence of fresh fruits/veggies, and seafood. We figured that Mazatlan, being prawn capital of Mexico, would have had a lot more prawns and fresh seafood to offer, but alas we had to go into town to find these kinds of things.

As a general rundown, breakfast is the best meal of the day if you get there around 8:00; the later it gets, the longer the food sits out and obviously the worse it tastes. Earlier on, though, it's fresh and tasty and there's great selection. The snack buffet we only ate at once, but the lunch buffet again was not so bad; it just gets tiresome. Lots and lots of heavy starch and greasy meats ... it felt a little too cheap American buffet to me. The dinner buffet, if you don't reserve a specialty restaurant, is much the same as lunch, just with a bit more variety.

The Asian theme restaurant is (not surprisingly) the worst. I would recommend simply steering clear. Everything was EXTREMELY salty and I barely ate a thing the night we went.
The Italian theme restaurant is much the same as the buffets, so I enjoyed it, but got bored of the selection quickly.
The Mexican theme restaurant is not a buffet, which was kind of nice, but I personally didn't like my dish too much, however my boyfriend enjoyed his.

The snack bar serves little sandwiches or chips.

My advice: try the restaurants, but as soon as you get sick of them, turn to your right when walking up the beach and visit the restaurant up there. Very delicious food! Or go into town; there's plenty to choose from.

- Drinks are hit or miss, and be careful because getting drunk off them WILL lead to huge hangovers; it's mostly sugar. They're tasty enough, though. Liquor dispensers in the room are cheap but get the job done, I guess. I like the canned tecate beer :)

- The distance from the city/Golden Zone. PERSONALLY, I enjoyed being secluded. However, to anyone wanting to go partying at night or exploring the nightlife, it is about a 20 minute taxi ride from the hotel, so it can be costly going to and from (And if you're wasted drunk it might be a little intimidating). I recommend this hotel for people that are more looking to spend time together at the hotel at night, and exploring during the day.


All in all, the Riu Emerald Bay exceeded our expectations in so many ways and was really a heavenly week for the two of us. Would love to come back again sometime soon :)

Room Tip: Choose a higher floor to be able to watch the sunsets/sunrises.
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  • Stayed: April 2013, traveled as a couple
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3  Thank Morgan C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Hotel Riu Emerald Bay

Address: Av. Sabalo-Cerritos #3404 zona costera cerritos | Nuevo Mazatlán - Sinaloa, Mazatlan 82110, Mexico
Phone Number:
Location: Mexico > Pacific Coast > Sinaloa > Mazatlan
Bar / Lounge Beach Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#3 Top resorts Hotel in Mazatlan
#7 Spa Hotel in Mazatlan
#9 On the Beach Hotel in Mazatlan
#10 Romantic Hotel in Mazatlan
Price Range: $142 - $275 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:3.5 star — Hotel Riu Emerald Bay 3.5*
Number of rooms: 716
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
* Opening summer 2009 * 12 km / 7.45 Miles from Mazatlan, overlooking the Pacific Ocean * Located on Playa Las Brujas beach * Complimentary sun loungers on the beach * 20-story main building * Surrounded by 13.500 M2 / 16.15 Sq. Yards of lush gardens * 10 km / 6.2 Miles from various shops * 12 km / 7.45 Miles from Mazatlan * 32 km / 19.87 Miles from the airport * Credit cards accepted: MasterCard, Visa ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Riu Emerald Bay Mazatlan

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