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Established by Spanish settlers in 1531 to export gold and sliver from Sierra Madre mines, Mazatlan was slightly off the traditional shipping routes of the period. The location served colonists well since traffic heading north or south along the coast (and pirates looking for plunder) generally avoided the port. Most vessels followed a straight line along the North American coast as far as Manzanillo before turning west to Baja. Commercial ships also steered well clear of Mazatlan for decades because of its reputation as a rumored pirate haven. Because of this, the port did not really expand until the 18th century when a fishing industry was established to exploit the coastal bounty.
Mazatlan had not been an Amerindian settlement, so the city has few of the ancient ruins or legends of its sister cities. Its history belongs to colonial Spaniards. Nomadic ancient people had visited the region, but moved on. For the, Mazatlan had been a hunting ground - Mazatlan means "home of the deer" in the native Nahuatl language.
The city is divided into three distinct sections. Viejo Mazatlan centers on a small square, and is an eclectic district of interesting old Spanish-style buildings and colorful new condos. The center of the Malecon, which curves along Bahia del Puerto Viejo is a lazy stretch of city beach and Pacific recreation area. The city aquarium is on the strip and the beaches offer quick escape from frenetic city life. The malecon links the business district to the northern Zona Dorada (and Mazatlans's most elegant hotels and condos). Dorada is the tourist neighborhood. Its boutiques and cafés cater to tourists and wealthy residents.
Known as a rich fishing resort, it is also a popular vacation center. Soft sand beaches are plentiful, so it's no wonder the resort receives more than a million visitors annually. There is plenty to do. Fishing is till popular, but sun worshippers easily find a perfect beach. Parasailing and snorkeling are offered, and a golf course is always nearby.
Perched atop 515-foot El Cerro de Vigia ("Lookout Hill"), El Faro is the world's highest natural light-house. You can climb to the top, but it is quite a workout. Follow Pergola Centennial Way. Built at the end of the 19th century to guard the port, three British cannons defended the port against foreign invasion.
Mazatlan's most recognizable icon however, is the Monument to the Fisherman on Avenida del Mar. The frozen figure poses with an array of traditional equipment.
The small beach on the western side of old town (below Lookout Hill) is probably not the best place to swim, abut it is a fine place for a stroll (popular swimming beaches are in Zona Dorada). The nearby Archaeological Museum has interesting displays on local history. A few clay pieces even date from the Pre-Columbian period.
From Cerro de la Neveria (Ice Box Hill), just south of the beach, cliff divers perform if the weather is good. Like their counterparts at Acapulco's famous La Quebrada, twice each day youths fearlessly leap from the 40-foot high El Mirador cliff. The key to success is timing because the water is only six feet deep at times. Dives usually happen to take place at the precise moment tour busses arrive. The boys gratefully accept tips.
Acuario Mazatlan has many local species as well as a collection of imported fish from all over the world. The tanks are near Playa Norte along the malecon and it is one of Latin America's finest aquariums. In addition to the many tanks, the center' trained animal shows are well done. Most popular for children is the chance to be kissed by a sea lion.
If you want a taste of old Mexico focus your camera on the attractive Iglesia de San Sebastian in Concordia. Built in1624, the carved altar boasts fine wood-working tradition that has characterized the town since the colonial era. Pottery and wood furniture are local specialties and women still wash clothes in the manantial (natural hot spring). Copala, a bit further into the Sierra foothills, is a classic sliver mining town. Buy a mango from one of the vendors. They are tasty, if not a bit messy!
Playa Sabalo is the main city beach. Hawkers encourage parasailing and waterskiing while merchants offer serapes. There are plenty of restaurants and beachside bars, and the streets are filled with shops, hotels and restaurants.
Sailing into Mazatlan on the Oosterdam was delayed because of limited visibility, or Fog!! And it stayed pretty overcast and cool all day. We finally entered the harbor and docked about 9:30 or so.
Then it was off to our excursions. We elected for the shrimp feast in this port and were taken to a lovely villa up in the hills for a magnificent feast of Shrimp with accompanying rice and beans and guacamole etc. Oh and the margaritas flowed .. this seems to be a theme on ships excursions in Mexico. This was a fantastic shore excursion and good material for my cruise review of the Oosterdam.
There was an artist gallery there and I of course found a necklace I had to have!!
|Pictures of people in Mazatlan
|Street scene pictures from our Oosterdam cruise review while in Mazatlan
|View from Villa where we had a shrimp feast shore excursion
|More of the beautiful view from atop a hill in Mazatlan Mexico
|Scenic photos from the shrimp feast shore excursion in Mazatlan
|Relaxing with new
friends on our Mazatlan
|Pretty pool at the resort we visited in Mazatlan - Pictures from our cruise review of the Oosterdam
|Pictures from the shrimp feast shore excursion from the Oosterdam cruise ship.
|The Jewelry designer
|Shopping at port
|Shopping at Port