(LifeWire) - Welcome to Mazatlán
On Mexico's central Pacific Coast, Mazatlán is a mid-sized port city controlled at one time or another by the Spanish, French, British and the United States. This attractive city has lured Hollywod stars and humble fishermen alike to its beaches since the 1940s. Its highlights include a lovely downtown, a charming aquarium, excellent kid-friendly resorts and legendary sportfishing. If you've dreamed of taking a family fishing trip, Mazatlán - known as the billfish capital of the world - is a prime place to be.
Direct flights are typically available from Houston, Phoenix and Los Angeles and those in Western Canada cities may score a direct flight too. The airport is about 30 minutes from the city. Check to see if your resort offers airport transfers; if not, there are plenty of taxis and shuttle services at the airport. Stick to the official taxi companies.
How's the Beach?
Mazatlán is known for its fantastic beaches, but be aware that the undertow can be quite strong; choose your swimming spots carefully. Perhaps best for families are Playa Norte and Playa Camarón Sábado. Also popular but with waters a little less calm is Playa Las Gaviotas.
For those who hope to catch some waves, take your surfboard to Playa Olas Altas, which is also a good diving spot.
Mazatlán makes it easy to enjoy a family vacation with a solid selection of resorts. Some choices:
Holiday Inn SunSpree Resort Mazatlán: Located about a half-hour's drive from the airport in the heart of the Zona Dorada, this beachfront full-service resort offers a KidSpree Vacation Club (ages 5 to 12) that features daily supervised children's activities and lunch. There are suites with kitchenettes available, though the property has two restaurants and is surrounded by plenty of others.
Las Flores Beach Resort: Another Zona Dorada property, this hotel is located on the popular Playa Las Gaviotas. Many of the rooms are suites with kitchenettes, but a prime reason to stay here is its proximity to restaurants and bars as well as the beach. No formal children's program, but babysitters are available.
Pueblo Bonito Emerald Bay: This new, upscale resort is set on 20 beachfront acres in Nuevo Mazatlán, just north of the Zona Dorada. All of the rooms are suites, each with a kitchenette and a private balcony or terrace. There is a menu of daily children's activities (ages 5 to 10) near the pool, as well as babysitting service.
El Cid Marina Beach: This all-inclusive property is one of four adjacent El Cid resorts located 35 minutes from the airport; you can take advantage of everything all four facilities have to offer. Rooms are suites with kitchenettes. With its children's playground, pool and special lagoon, it's particularly appealing to families; a full Cid's Kids Club program (ages 4 to 12) is available. You'll find similar amenities at the neighboring El Cid El Moro Beach and El Cid Castilla Beach.
Attractions & Fun Outings
Mazatlán is one of the world's top fishing destinations. Dubbed the "billfish capital of the world", its position at the meeting point of the Pacific Ocean and the Sea of Cortez creates a "natural fish trap" for marlin, tuna and swordfish, as well as many other species. You can arrange charters at your resort.
Although it's hard not to avoid the touristy Zona Dorada, where you'll find many hotels, restaurants, bars and trinket shops, be sure to continue south to Mazatlán's historic downtown. Here you can visit the Acuario Mazatlán (Mazatlán Aquarium), which has more than 200 species of marine life on view as well as a botanic garden. Also look out for the Monumento al Pescador, a tribute to the local fisherman, and the Museo Arqueológico, which displays pre-Hispanic artifacts.
Adults and children alike will enjoy the waterslides and pools at Parque Acuático Mazagua (Mazagua Water Park), located in Nuevo Mazatlán just north of the Zona Dorada.
More Mazatlán Tips
- Single parents or guardians traveling to Mexico with a child under age 18 must present a notarized statement indicating the other parent's permission to travel abroad or proof of the death or legal absence of the other parent.
- To avoid traveler's diarrhea, stick to bottled beverages (even for toothbrushing) and avoid uncooked or street food.
- For resorts and major attractions, always check recent visitor comments at a site such as TripAdvisor.com.
- General information about visiting Mexico
- Mexico Tourism Association's Mazatlán information
- Mazatlán Hotel Association site
- Further information about family travel