Mazatlan City Guide
OVERVIEW: Mazatlan, Mexico. Became a resort destination hotspot in the 1950s after American celebrities "discovered it," but has recently lost most of its allure thanks to the state of Sinaloa's pesky - but not unearned - reputation for drug violence. Despite it being overlooked by tourists in favour of Cancun, Playa del Carmen and Cabo, Mazatlan is one of my favourite beach destinations in the entire country. We'll get to why that is in a minute.
POPULATION: 450,000; marginal increase during vacation times.
WEATHER: Dry-wet and tropical (2o-32 °C). Can feel warmer thanks to humidity. Can experience rain fall July-October.
SAFETY: Mazatlan is still trying to shake a bad reputation earned by an explosion of drug violence in its state of Sinaloa during the past decade. This sordid reputation has caused a recent decline in tourism (2011 was one of its worse years ever for tourists). However, perception of danger and danger are two different things. I'm happy to say that I always felt completely safe in Mazatlan, even at night in the old center of town. It appeared everyone else did as well - tourists and locals alike were out well past dark.
Although there are some occasional reports of drug violence outside of the city, there really isn't much to worry about in Mazatlan, especially if you stick to the tourist zones like Zona Dorada.
MUST DO: Visit El Faro (The Lighthouse). You can walk there from the old city center, and the hike to the lighthouse is very manageable. You'll be rewarded with spectacular vistas of the ocean and city, and you'll likely have the view all to yourself.
RENT AN APARTMENT IN MAZATLAN, MEXICO: As usual, I took the time to look at local real estate listings while here. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that you can snag a one-bedroom apartment rental, sometimes even with ocean views, in or near Zona Dorada for $600 USD. If you want to pay even less than that, check out listings in the old center. Feels a bit less commercial and you'll still be walking distance from the beach. Rentals can be found here for as low as $400 USD.
HOSTEL DORM BED/NIGHT: About $10 USD a night. I'd opt for a hotel instead. You can stay at the Hotel Belmar for about $25.oo USD a night. Internet is fast, rooms are big and it's easy to sneak girls up to your room ;).
NIGHTLIFE IN MAZATLAN, MEXICO: 7.5/10
As you might expect from a Mexican resort destination, it's pretty good. I went to six different venues during my stay here: an American-style bar/restaurant, an outdoor oceanside bar, and indoor oceanside nightclub, a tourist bar adjacent to my hotel, a cantina and a strip club in the old center.
I recommend: Joe's Oyster Bar or Valentino. These are the two bars by the ocean in Zona Dorada. They are basically right next to each other so you can do both. Joe's Oyster Bar has a good mix of Mexicans and tourists, and the outdoor tables are good for mingling. Valentino is a bit more upscale of a nightclub (read: harder to get laid), but the Mexican girls I saw were hot and very well dressed.
Unfortunately, I didn't manage to pick a girl up at either of these places. I did manage to pull something from the bar below my hotel though, although I kinda wish I hadn't. You can read about that in this post.
BOTTLE OF BEER: $1.50
CHANCE OF HOOKING-UP IN MAZATLAN: 7/10
It's a resort destination, so it's not particularly difficult. However, it's not quite as easy as Cancun or Playa del Carmen. For some reason, tourists here didn't seem quite as slutty. That being said, locals showed more interest in me here than in other beach destinations, perhaps due to the fact that Mazatlan isn't completely overrun by tourists.
I had sex here once during my one-week stay, and she wasn't of the best quality to be honest. I'd need to go back for longer to give you a more thorough analysis (hehe). But for now, a 7/10 rating seems about right.
***ONLINE DATING: If you want to meet girls in Mexico the easy way, I highly recommend signing up for Mexican Cupid. You can chat with local girls and set up dates before you arrive in the country, which is a major advantage.
Surprisingly, there aren't too many girls on Tinder here. I noticed this in Durango as well. Kind of baffling considering the each city has about half a million people, but might suggest that Mazatlan might not be the worse place to find a nice girl. If you're into sexy older women, you'll want to opt for Mexican Cupid instead of Tinder.
ARE GIRLS HOT IN MAZATLAN?: 7.5/10.
As I've said before, Sinaloa has a reputation for hot girls. This reputation holds true here in Mazatlan. I wasn't expecting it to be so good. One thing you'll immediately notice people doing which you won't see in other Mexican cities of this size is exercising. The malecon is always chalked full of hot female joggers and there are gyms everywhere. This means a lot less russet-potato shape bodies (you know what I mean if you've spent time in the country). Long story short, the main draw of the women here is their bodies. Beautiful bronzed skin, often with an abundance of ass and breasts. Faces are no worse or better than other cities north of Mexico City, but the bodies are 10x more enjoyable. So, if you want to get down and dirty (and obscenely sweaty) with a perfectly tanned Mexicana with a nice big bum, there is scarcely a better city to do it in.
If you want to make the most of your time in Mexico, you will need to speak some Spanish. Rocket Spanish is the best resource for learning Spanish quickly and easily.
GROCERIES: Milk (1L)= $1.00 Tortillas (1kg)= $0.80 Eggs= $1.10 Water (1.5L)= $0.80 Cigarettes= $3.00
JOB OPPORTUNITIES: The Sinaloa cartel might have an opening. Not likely to be advertised in the local paper though.
TAXI: Frustratingly expensive if you are coming from Mexico City. I don't know if I was getting ripped off, but I was paying $6.00 or more to go from the old center to Zona Dorada (less than 10 minute trip). Still cheap, but probably the most I've paid anywhere in Mexico for taxis.
NOTES: Mazatlan is one of the few tourist cities in Mexico that I would ever consider living. It's a very nice balance - enough locals to make it feel like you're actually in Mexico, and enough tourists to bang and party with. You're also only about 2 1/2 hours from Culiacan, and 3 1/2 hours from Durango, two cities that are pretty cool to hang out and party in. The women are also better than your average Mexican city, which is already pretty good to begin with.
Mazatlan gets the My Latin Life stamp of approval!
OVERALL RATING: 7.5/10
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