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“Terrible Experience - Terrible Activities, Got Sick”
Review of Mazatlan Tours

Mazatlan Tours
Ranked #10 of 52 Tours in Mazatlan
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Owner description: Mazatlan's #1 tours and excursions company. Stone Island tours, Snorkeling trips, sightseeing tours, whale watching, airport transfers, cruise shore excursions and more. Featuring a popular no-port, no-pay policy for cruise passengers and Mazatlan's only discount card free with every reservation, Mazatlan Tours is your home for fun things to do on your vacation. Let us show you the wonders of Mazatlan.
Reviewed August 17, 2010

My boyfriend and I went on the Stone Island tour (which is not an island by the way, but rather a peninsula), hoping for a taste of lots of activities. We were beyond disappointed. The ride to the tour location was very long through the smoggy streets in the back of basically a pick-up truck with seats and an awning. There were 11 of us in total in the back - so cramped to say the least. When we arrived at the pier, we road a boat around to hear stories of the rock formations, except, as the only English speakers on the boat, we mostly heard 10-minute stories in Spanish, followed by one sentence in English. We mostly shrugged this off since we knew Mazatlan was less touristy than other areas in Mexico.

When we arrived at the tour location, the guide explained in Spanish how the activities and food situation would work, so we had to approach him to get the information in English. We then proceeded to do our first activity - banana boats. This was far different from what I have done in the states. In the states, at least in my experience, the point of banana boat rides is to cling on for dear life as the driver whips the riders around the ocean for a good amount of time. Not on this tour though - instead, we climbed on the raft and the driver of the boat slowly and steadily took us out about 1 minute, then as slow as he possibly could, the driver gently turned us around, and then steadily drove us back to the shore. The total activity took 3 minutes at the very most.

After our banana boat ride, we did the ATV portion of our tour - we paid extra for 30 minutes on the ATV. There is no way of tracking your time - we were fairly certain that we could have taken the thing all day and they would have never known. Sadly, we didn't even do the full 30 minutes because outside of the portion of the beach that was dedicated to the tour, the beach was extremely disgusting. It was littered with everything from pop bottles, to mini fridge doors, to large tree branches and even dead pelicans. I road on the back so I could just look out at the ocean, but my boyfriend had to navigate the garbage the entire time.

After our disappointing banana boat and ATV rides, we considered our other activity options:
- Boogie boarding: in our minds did not seem like an "activity," but we figured lots of families have kids, so that is a good option for them.
- Snorkeling: ridiculous! They have a roped off section of the ocean to keep people just hanging out in their portion of the beach, but this is also where the snorkeling takes place. So basically, if you sign up to snorkel, only expect to see kicked up sand from the large waves, and tons of people playing in the area.
- Kayaking: only a few people did this, we did not, so it perhaps is good, not sure.
- Horse back riding: we originally planned to do this, but we assumed the horseback riding was down the beach and after weaving in and out of garbage on the ATVs and by looking at the sad, skinny horses, we decided to just call it a day and forgo our second included activity. However, we did talk to other people who did this tour later in the week and heard the horseback riding was a good time, so if you do this tour, I'd recommend the horseback riding.

When we gave up on the activities, we decided to try to drink our money's worth at the bar. This was a failed attempt. We are fairly certain they water down the liquor because after 5 drinks, all I felt was sick from too much juice and I am a light-weight. Also, the food was only so-so, which would have been easy to overlook if the tour was good, but sadly it was just another failed aspect.

In the end, our favorite part of the tour was simply hanging out in the ocean. We should have saved our money and just hung out in the ocean at our hotel.

And the worst part of the tour - not only did we waste our day and money, but we likely got sick because of it. While the water at the bar is from bottles, looking back I am assuming the ice was not made from bottled water. We both felt terrible all day the following day. We both still felt on and off sick throughout the rest of the week, and I amazingly still felt on and off sick the week we came home. This is by far the worst tour I have ever done in my life.

3  Thank KEM84
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Johann&Sandra, Owner at Mazatlan Tours, responded to this reviewResponded June 27, 2011

I'm very sorry to hear that you did not enjoy the Stone Island Tour. Stone Island is the most popular attraction in Mazatlan, featuring beautiful beaches, fun beach clubs and a taste of "real Mexico" that is becoming harder and harder to find anywhere these days. While its authenticity is a prime attraction for most people, it is true that a few visitors may be turned off by its rural non-touristy atmosphere. It certainly sounds like you were in the latter category, and while we very much regret that you did not enjoy this authentic Mazatlan experience, we remain proud of the reputation of Stone Island and the glowing reviews our Stone Island tour has received for many years, including some posted on this thread. I would like to explain a couple of instances where perhaps you may have got the wrong idea about what the tour is trying to convey, and perhaps in this different light you may reflect more positively on your experience.

Pick-up for the tour is in an Arrega, a pick-up truck with a shaded bed with seating, which is unique to Mazatlan - visitors Mazatlan will see these curious vehicles all over town. This is the most common way to get around Mazatlan, and its inclusion is intentional to include an experience that our guests may only ever experience in Mazatlan.

It is regretful that on the day of your tour there were mostly Spanish-speaking guests. This is not a usual circumstance, but it is Mexico and the local people mostly speak Spanish. August is a popular travel month for Mexican people, and Mazatlan is one of the most popular tourism destination for Mexican families. While our tour (like all tours in Mazatlan) is bilingual (English and Spanish) to accommodate all guests, it is much more common for English-speaking guests to greatly outnumber Spanish speaking ones.

It is disappointing to hear about the condition of the beach you experienced that day. This is not at all typical of the beaches of Stone Island, but sometimes after a rough water day a small amount of garbage can wash in from the ocean. While the local residents try to pick it all up as quickly as possible, sometimes there can be a delay. These situations do arise in any coastal community, and the residents do try to keep up. There is no commercial trash collection available, and it is a very simple community, so sometimes they can't keep up after a series of rough water days. I wish you had seen the beaches of Stone Island in their full glory that day, I think you would have had a different experience altogether.

I am surprised to hear about your banana boat experience, this is not typical and I assume it may have had something to do with the water conditions at the time you visited. Safety is a first priority, and launching guests over waves is something the tour operator tries to avoid. It sounds like the rough water also prevented the normal snorkeling activity from taking place. It is unfortunate that the weather did not cooperate for your tour, but unfortunately there isn't a lot we can do about mother nature, we just first and foremost have to protect our guests from being in an unsafe situation should one arise due to the water conditions.

The horses on Stone Island, and in Mexico in general, are a different variety than those used commonly on ranches in the States. They appear to the unaccustomed visitor to be a bit scrawny, but this is the way they look. You'll see similar horses all over Mexico, and this does not mean they are not taken care of, its just their genetics. Some tourist areas import their horses from other places, but on Stone Island they use only locally born and bred horses to keep the authentic feeling of the experience. These are the same horses that get rave reviews all over the internet, and I'm sure if you had participated in the horseback riding you would have enjoyed it. It takes you through the village so you can see how the local people live, then along the beach for nice photos. Most people really enjoy it.

It is very unfair to "asssume the ice is not purified" (it is), or to guess that the beach club "likely made you sick" (it would be the first and only time this has happened). Perhaps the drinks were a bit stronger than you realized, or the laxative effect of fruity tropical drinks didn't agree with your system, but the food served on the beach is locally prepared in safe and purified manner. The food and drinks commonly sought by tourists in Mazatlan (and elsewhere in Mexico) are spicier and prepared differently than many tourists' stomachs are used to, and it is very possible, even likely, to have side effects without there being any unclean or unpurified cause for them. I am suprised TripAdvisor allows unfounded assumptions about a company's business practices to be posted for public consumption, rather than requiring actual experiences and factual information, it seems very unfair.

The Stone Island Tour is an incredible value for the money - just $36 for a full day of activities, including lunch, open bar, a boat tour of the coastal area and transportation to a rural Mexican beach community - which makes it the most popular tour in Mazatlan, with very good reviews to be found throughout the internet. However, it is not for everyone, and I encourage you to perhaps seek a destination such as Cancun where there is a much more American-style vacation experience that I suspect you may enjoy more than Stone Island or Mazatlan.

We had already issued a full refund of your money before your review was posted, as we are not in the business of creating disappointed guests. I wish you had acknowledged our commitment to customer service in your review, but I still hope you can accept it as an apology for not enjoying Stone Island and we hope to have a chance to make it up to you with a different life-changing adventure in the future. I hope the rest of your vacation in Mazatlan was a great one, and that you will come see us again in the near future.

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Write a ReviewReviews (163)
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"city tour"
in 15 reviews
"cruise ship"
in 14 reviews
"stone island"
in 22 reviews
"small bus"
in 2 reviews
"half the cost"
in 2 reviews
"transportation from the airport"
in 2 reviews
"booked this tour"
in 6 reviews
"highly recommend the tour"
in 2 reviews
"hour tour"
in 6 reviews
"interesting tour"
in 2 reviews
"the cliff"
in 8 reviews
"great knowledge"
in 2 reviews
"norwegian jewel"
in 2 reviews
"beach activities"
in 3 reviews
"deer island"
in 8 reviews
"authentic mexican lunch"
in 2 reviews
"huge shrimp"
in 2 reviews

153 - 157 of 163 reviews

Reviewed June 1, 2010

I was worried about booking an excursion that wasn't through our cruise line, but I was pleasantly surprised at how much better this ATV excursion was than the one offered through the ship. We did not just putt-putt in a slow straight line. Our group was small. We enjoyed all types of jungle terrrain, creeks, and free form time on the beach. The guides were super kind and accommodating. They even used our personal cameras to take tons of pictures of us while we got to just enjoy the trip. You WILL get dirty, but the experience is not to be missed. Even our driver to the ranch took us through scenic Mazatlan. We returned via a different route. It was like a second tour for the price of one.

4  Thank SenoraFlora
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Johann&Sandra, Owner at Mazatlan Tours, responded to this reviewResponded August 11, 2010

Thank you for the great feedback, we're so happy you had a great time! Certainly one of the big benefits of booking outside the cruise ship (in addition to price) is that you have the opportunity for small groups and a personalized experience like this. We are so happy that you chose Mazatlan Tours to show you a great time, and thanks so much for taking the time to post your experience with us!

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Reviewed April 22, 2010

Our family (incl. 3 teens) was on a cruise in April, and by recommendation of another Trip Advisor member we booked a Deer Island Catamaran sail directly with Mazatlan Tours. This is a terrific tour company - everything they advertise is superb...open bar all day, excellent food and great service. All the activities are included and we had ample time to try all of them. Tip for cruise passengers: please note the time you arrive in Mazatlan, take a taxi to El Cid Marina, Harbormaster location to board the catamaran. Also, book on-line to save a few dollars.

Thank jackie314
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Johann&Sandra, Owner at Mazatlan Tours, responded to this reviewResponded August 11, 2010

That's wonderful that you enjoyed your cruise on the Kolonahe Catamaran and your time on Deer Island so much. We really appreciate you taking the time to post your good experience with us, it really means a lot! We hope to see you again soon!

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Reviewed November 7, 2009

Booked the Stone Isand Cruise through http://www.mazatlantours.org/ and it was a great excursion. This excursion included a short cruise ending across from our cruise ship, which we thought was kind of funny but did allow us to see some of the area. Included in the cost which was very, very reasonable was lunch (we chose fish, chicken with rice and beans), alcoholic drinks and two activities. We chose the banana boat and beach horseback riding. The food was very good and I don't usually eat fish! My only complaint was that the guide on the horseback ride did not stop and allow for pictures, there were five total for this activity and pictures with the ocean in the background would not have taken long and would have been a wonderful memento. The banana boat was a blast and the beach was clean. The vendors were very polite and there were only a few, after reading reviews I expected several. Booking off the cruise ship saved us half the cost and we had a great time. I have always booked excursions throught the cruise line but will do my best to avoid that extra cost in the future.

1  Thank Emto
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Johann&Sandra, Owner at Mazatlan Tours, responded to this reviewResponded August 11, 2010

That's excellent that you enjoyed our tour to Stone Island, thanks so much for posting your experience! I agree that Stone Island is one of the better values you'll find in Mazatlan - you really get a lot for a small amount of money. There are many more vendors down in the area that the cruise ship tours go to, our beach club is a little bit further down the beach so out of the main vendor area, plus that means many less people on the beach making it a very nice experience. Thanks again for posting and giving us a chance to make your stay in Mazatlan a great one!

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Reviewed September 24, 2009

My 65+ year old parents and I went on this excursion and really enjoyed it. It was a better value than what my fellow passengers paid the cruise ship and I felt like we got more for our money because we got to see some of Mazatlan (they came to the island by boat whereas we came by car... which we were able to join them on for the trip back so I don't feel like I missed anything) and everyone involved with the tour was SUPER-friendly... really made us feel at home. My mom was nervous about kayaking (she's not a good swimmer) but turned out to really enjoy it.

1  Thank Brad W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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