Mazatlan, Mexico – General Info
Mazatlan, aka “the Pearl of the Pacific”. The word Mazatlan is derived from the ancient Nahuatl word meaning “land of the deer”. In fact, the local baseball team is called the Venados which is Spanish for “Deer”. The city was originally “settled” by the Spaniards in 1531. Prior to that it was the home of the Totorames Indians. Another classic case of discovering someone who didn’t particularly wish to be discovered.
Did you know in that 1847, during the Mexican-American war, the U.S. Army actually marched all the way down the coast and closed the port? Remember that next time you think the buses are slow!
Mazatlan is located 23 degrees 15 minutes 31 seconds North by 106 degrees 26 minutes 43 seconds West. What? Just go to the tip of the Baja and swim left.
From the airport grab your bags and head out front, there are plenty of cabs with the trunk lid open. Throw your bags in and shout “Vamanos!”
It’s about a 40 minute ride to town (25 at night) and will cost about $20.00. If ya don’t have pesos yet, don’t worry he’ll gladly accept $20 American. I do advise you have him take you to a Casa de Cambio so you can get some fun tickets.
Note: Before you head off in any cab, establish the destination and fare. There is also a shuttle that runs to town for about $7.00.
WARNING: There is no such thing as a free lunch or a free ride to town. These are timeshare salesmen. Avoid them like the plague.
Once you’re settled and ready to head out, transport is not a problem. The town is crawling with cabs. There are basically two types. The closed-in red & white or green & white Eco taxis are comfortable, air conditioned, and are generally a tiny bit cheaper.
But to get the full flavor of Mazatlan, hail one of the open air Pulmonias. These things are a gas. Like most of my women they’re loose, loud, and cheap. You should be able to go anywhere in the city for 20 or 30 pesos. Make friends with the driver, he’ll remember you.
The buses are by far the cheapest form of transport. For a route map, contact me.
Bring lots! Just kiddin’. I highly recommend you bring travelers cheques. DO NOT rely solely on your bank card. They work fine, but I’ve seen some horror stories. If your hotel has a safety deposit box, use it. Take only what you need with you. I have never been, seen, nor heard of anyone being robbed but getting drunk and loosing it is a drag.
I also recommend a fanny pack. You’ll probably be half naked and drunk at least part of time and it’s a handy way to haul money, I.D., hotel keys, etc.
The current rate of exchange is 9.80 pesos to the American dollar. It changes a little but has been around that for a few years now. Here’s a currency converter. There are little change huts, ‘Casa de Cambio’, all over the city especially in and around the Zone. It pays to check a few out, the rate will vary slightly from shack to shack. Avoid using your hotel, they’ll nick you a bit.
Your budget depends on your budget. I can and have lived quite comfortably on $5.00 a day and have partied up $200.00 in the same time frame. More on this in the Tips & Advice section.
Most of the year the Author is busy bending nails in Idaho where I am a small building contractor and own a good size wood shop where me and my partner, “the Mutt”, will build anything that pays money, aka, “woodhookers”.
I spent eight years traveling the world with not much more than my hammer and guitar. But I must admit I’m partial to Mexico, in particular the Mazatlan area. “Despasio dias y rapido noches” (slow days and fast nights ).
About five years ago on the day before I was scheduled to return home from there I met one of my most unforgettable characters. The man calls himself Joaquine and has spent the last 25 years endearing himself to a small village about 85 klicks north of Mazatlan. One day later, two bottles of tequila and a cashed in airline ticket, there we were. We now have access to a 3 bedroom, 3 bath villa overlooking the village. I am the token gringo, only one for miles.
The village is in the high desert situated on a river, just like where I now live in Idaho. However, one of my favorite pastimes in Mexico is to hop the village bus for the 90 minute trip to Mazatlan were we unleash ourselves on the unsuspecting populace.
So, if you’re in the area and happen to spot a large, white, tattooed male with a shaved head accompanied by a small, long haired, wild dancing Indian do not attempt to fold, spindle, or mutilate these creatures. Simply add tequila, sit back, and watch the show.
The Author would like to thank the following people without whom this
guide would not be possible.
Nadine & Henry: For the wealth of facts & flicks
Real Mexico B&B~Tours: Facts and flicks
Captain Moe for Zoe
All the ‘Quotesters’
Joaquine, my Mexican Mentor