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Scooters-Mania of Mazatlan

Whether you're staying here for a day or a month, no trip to Mazatlan can be complete without enjoying at least one hour on an easy-to-drive scooter. Each scooter can accommodate a driver and one passenger, so there's no better way for a couple to get away from their tour group for a nice quiet picnic on a remote beach.

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MAZATLAN

Mazatlan accepts its visitors so gracefully. While some resort towns become completely consumed by the travel trade, Mazatlan manages to maintain its Mexican character while giving vacationers the things they came for—relaxation and entertainment in a nice seaside setting. In a single trip, travelers can experience both comfortable surroundings and the sights and smells of a pleasant Mexican city. It’s as simple as moving from one part of town to another.

The Zona Dorado (Golden Zone) is where the vacation industry is concentrated, containing a long expanse of shoreline, beachfront hotels, trendy restaurants and endless shops. But the heart of the city lies in Old Mazatlan downtown, where residents linger in neighborhood plazas under trees bursting with blossoms. They catch up on local gossip, read the papers and watch children chasing pigeons and balloons. Church bells ring throughout the city on Sunday mornings, and the Navy band marches to the National Anthem during the flag raising each day.

Which isn’t to say that the travel business isn’t important—it’s the port city’s second-largest industry after commercial fishing. Snowbirds from the U.S. and Canada flock to moderately priced hotels where they settle in for a week or for the entire winter. In the spring, thousands of students from throughout North America pack the hotels and bars in their annual celebration of spring break. Summer brings the true bargain hunters, who ignore rising temperatures and enjoy even lower room rates and relatively uncrowded beaches and pools.

They go to Mazatlan for many reasons. The deep-sea fishing is famous: Several world records have been set with fish caught in the Pacific waters offshore. Striped marlin abound from December through April, and sailfish are plentiful from May through November. Fishing boats can be hired at the marinas in the Zona Dorado and in the harbor area. (Though most charter boat operators are reputable, be sure to check the condition of the gear and count the life preservers before you leave port. And consider catch-and-release fishing—it’s becoming a popular way to enjoy the sport without threatening the ocean’s bounty.)

Then there are the beaches: They seem endless, stretching north from the old city for more than 14 mi/23 km. They include nearly every type of surf-and-sand experience—romantic, secluded coves to umbrella-packed expanses where diving excursions, windsurfing and other water-related sports are available.

Most of the shops are local operations with more character than predictability. (The merchandise runs toward mainstream Mexican arts and crafts.) Both dollars and pesos are accepted, and most major credit cards are honored in the shops. Be aware that bargaining is not acceptable in established shops—only with beach vendors and at artisans’ stands. Offer half the proffered price, then negotiate toward the middle

Mazatlan, which hosts more than 1million visitors a year, is set in a beautiful cove of the Pacific and lies at about the same latitiude as Hawaii. The temperature fluctuates from mid-60's to mid-90's depending on the time of the year.

ATTRACTIONS
Mazatlan accepts its visitors so gracefully. While some resort towns become completely consumed by the travel trade, Mazatlan manages to maintain its Mexican character while giving vacationers the things they come for - relaxation and entertainment in a nice seaside setting.
The Zona Dorado (Golden Zone) is where the vacation industry is concentrated, containing a long expanse of shoreline, beachfront hotels, trendy restaurants and endless shops.
But the heart of the city is Old Mazatlan downtown, where residents linger in neighborhood plazas under trees bursting with blossoms. They catch up on local gossip, read the papers and watch children chasing pigeons and balloons.
Church bells ring throughout the city on Sunday mornings and the Navy band marches to the National Anthem during the flag raising each day.
Tourism is this port city's second-largest industry after commercial fishing. Snow fans from the U.S. and Canada flock to moderately priced hotels where they settle in for a week or for the entire winter.
In the spring, thousands of students from throughout North America pack the hotels and bars in their annual celebration of spring break. Summer brings the true bargain hunters, who ignore rising temperatures and enjoy even lower room rates and uncrowded beaches and pools.
They go to Mazatlan for many reasons. The deep-sea fishing is famous. Several world records have been set with fish caught in the Pacific waters offshore.
Striped marlin abound from December through April and sailfish are plentiful from May through November.
Then there are the beaches. They seem endless, stretching north from the old city for more than 14 miles/23km. They include nearly every type of surf-and-sand experience - romantic, secluded coves to umbrella-packed expanses where diving excursions, windsurfing and other water sports are available.
At the northern edge of the Olas Altas, waterfront cliff divers leap from steep rocks into the sea - if tides, weather and good fortune are willing. They perform for tour groups throughout the day and follow a schedule of performances in high season.
Behind the divers a large hill looms above the city. It has a colorful past. During the 16th and 17th centuries, it was used as a lookout for pirate ships but it got its name - Ice Box Hill (Cerro de la Neveria) - because ice brought from San Francisco by ship was stored in its two tunnels.
The hill also played a bizarre role in the Mexican Revolution. As the story goes, a biplane was sent to bomb the lookout fort atop Ice Box Hill in 1914. The pilot overflew the target and the bombardier, overcome by air sickness, lost his grip on the bomb.
It fell into the streets below, killing two civilians and injuring several others. The accidental drop gave Mazatlan the dubious distinction of being the second city in the world to be bombed from an airplane (the first was Tripoli).
Two other hills dominate the Mazatlan skyline and provide excellent views of the area.
El Cerro del Creston is topped by the El Faro Lighthouse, which is said to be the second-highest in the world (at 515ft/157m above sea level). Hike to the top to take in the spectacular view of the city: It takes about 30 minutes and there are no facilities at the top, so be sure to carry plenty of water.
El Cerro de la Vigia, which is often visited on city tours, was a military lookout point in the late 1800s. The view from up top takes in the entire city, the commercial and naval piers and the lighthouse atop Cerro del Creston.
Bullfights are a passion in Mazatlan. Usually held late afternoon on Saturdays, from mid December to April, in the Plaza de Toros Monumental. The city is one of the best places on the west coast to watch a bullfight.
The highlight of Mazatlan's calendar is Carnival - the pre-Lenten festival with parades, coronation parties, street dances, floats, fireworks and costumed merrymakers. Don't expect to get much sleep if you visit during the festivities.

Dining
Fresh seafood is Mazatlan's main dish - fish, octopus, clams, oysters, marlin, shark, squid and more varieties of shrimp than you can shake a lime wedge at.
Served alongside are such traditional Mexican specialties as burritos, chiles rellenos, enchiladas, quesadillas, tacos, tamales, tostadas and the ubiquitous frijoles y arroz (beans and rice also referred to locally as cristianos y moros).
To save money, look for places that have a Comida Corrida, the traditional Mexican plate lunch, which includes a main course, beans or rice, soup, a salad and maybe coffee or tea.
If you can tolerate the dairy products, be sure to try licuado for breakfast - Fresh fruits (papaya, melon, mango, banana, etc.) are blended with milk and sugar (or honey - miel de abeja).
You can add wheat germ (trigo), oatmeal (avena), nuts or whatever they've got. It's quick and cheap. Make sure you specify con leche (with milk), instead of water. Also recommended are Toni-Col, a vanilla soft drink, and Jericalla, a dessert similar to flan covered with chocolate instead of syrup.
Other notes on food: Although the city is the shrimping capital of Mexico, that doesn't mean shrimp is cheap in Mazatlan.

Shopping
Shopping Hours: Mon-Sat 8am-8pm. Many smaller stores close for lunch.

 
 

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