Once a sleepy fishing village on the Pacific Coast of Mexico, Mazatlan has emerged as a popular tourist destination with gorgeous hotels, an engaging culinary scene, and a welcoming vibe. Mazatlan, which means “land of deer,” is really a hidden gem with a historic downtown that gives you an authentic sense of its culture.
I was a guest at the luxurious Pueblo Bonito Mazatlan, an all-inclusive resort in the Golden Zone, right on the beach. The resort offers 250 elegantly appointed spacious guestrooms in a variety of sizes and configurations, each with an ocean view and a patio or balcony.
They tell me the beach is one of the resort’s biggest draws as you listen to the waves come crashing to shore.
The other big draw is the location, where you can easily walk to shopping, galleries and restaurants.
Enjoy two swimming pools, a well-equipped Fitness Center, and lots of activities like bartending and cooking classes, water aerobics, Spanish classes and botanical tours. Kids have plenty of activities to choose from as well like ceramics painting that rewards them with a colorful souvenir.
There are seven restaurants to choose from, including the Sunset Grill to relax and watch the divine sunsets.
Cilantro’s is the most upscale restaurant, offering a variety of fresh seafood and selected beef dishes with Mexican influences. I enjoyed the Goat Cheese and Cranberry salad, along with the Skirt Steak, Charro-style.
I loved the sumptuous breakfast buffet at Las Palomas and began my day with made-to-order omelets, fresh fruit, and a delicious selection of muffins and pastries.
Dine al fresco on the beach with fabulous Asian-inspired dishes at Pescados, including sushi, nigiri, sashimi, and more. Everything was made fresh with unique taste combinations to savor.
Dining at Angelo’s is like taking a trip to Italy. I started with Caesar Salad, then tried the fish fillet with orange and fennel sauce, served with broccoli and parmesan risotto, which was outstanding.
The Pueblo Bonita family of resorts also has a second resort in Mazatlán, the AAA4-star Emerald Bay Resort & Spa which offers a full service spa, additional restaurants, and lush gardens. Your key gets you access to the other resort and a complimentary shuttle takes you back and forth. It’s like staying at two different resorts!
What to See
Take the funicular at Observatorio 1873 and be rewarded with exquisite views in all directions. You’ll see the cruise ships in port, a boom to the economy, sometimes bringing in 7,000 passengers a day.
Learn more about the history of the city and you’ll see why the Spanish and French influences have impacted the culture and culinary traditions.
Check out the main house and have a drink in the Sky Bar 360. It’s the perfect way to enjoy the exquisite views.
Then, wander through the bird sanctuary with macaws, flamingos, and birds that will perch in your hand, obviously not afraid of you. Walk along the suspended walkway, on the same level as the trees.
The Historic Center
The colonial city was established in 1531 by Spaniards and other indigenous people. Plaza Machado, which was built in 1837, remains Mazatlan’s meet and greet destination. It features fabulous restaurants, boutique shops, a gazebo, and the city’s Angela Peralta Opera House. Here, you’ll also find Casa 46, a superb restaurant with Mexican and continental influences that overlooks the square. Music emanates from some of the bars. It looks and feels like something from a movie set.
About 30 minutes away is the charming little colonial town of El Quelite, which is well worth a visit. The resort can arrange this tour for you where you’ll have lunch, and time to shop for handicrafts from local vendors. Visiting El Quelite is a delightful way to get a feel for the real Mazatlán. Snap a picture by the El Quelite sign or climb to the top of the church for beautiful views of the town.
El Meson de Los Laureanos is a multi-level restaurant that opens up with little corners and alcoves to enjoy homemade cheese, warm tortillas and delicious meats. Served family style, you’ll be treated to authentic Mexican recipes handed down for generations.
New Aquarium Opening
Destined to put Mazatlan on the map is their brand-new Aquarium Mazatlan, slated to open in early 2023, and bringing the city into the forefront of marine biology. As the largest aquarium in Latin America, this family-friendly wonderland features interactive exhibits with sharks, stingrays, and sea turtles, the most majestic creatures found in the sea of Cortez.
Be sure to ride a pulmonia, an open-air taxi you’ll only find in Mazatlán. Feel the breeze at your back as you navigate through the streets. There are also party trucks to hold your whole gang.
All too soon I was headed back to the U.S., loaded down with beautiful artisan crafts, T-shirts and a boatload of happy memories from my stay at Pueblo Bonito Mazatlan!