Port Visit: Mazatlán, Mexico

If you’ve sailed a Mexican Riviera itinerary (West Coast to Mexico), chances are good that one of the stops along the way was in Mazatlán, Mexico. Sadly, the city has a mixed reputation amongst cruisers, but if you book an excursion through the cruise line or follow our tips below, you’re sure to have a safe and enjoyable visit to this gorgeous Mexican port.


First and foremost, plan for the weather in Mazatlán (and Mexico in general). Depending on the time of year you will experience different weather conditions. On our recent visit in early July, temperatures were in the high 80s and the humidity was definitely high. Listen to this clip that Mark recorded at 8:30am on the Carnival Panorama as we were docking in the port:

An Active Shipping Yard?

The port of Mazatlán can be intimidating at first. Upon arrival, you’ll notice that immediately adjacent to the ship is an active shipping yard. You’ll see large trucks driving around with containers and hundreds, if not thousands, of new vehicles sitting on the docks waiting to be distributed. There are complimentary shuttles (trolleys) available to take you out to the cruise terminal building, which is the gateway to the city. So don’t panic when you’re arriving to the port; we promise, it gets much better! 😉

Things to Do and Explore

If you haven’t booked an excursion through the cruise line (or the many vendors who try to sell you excursions in the terminal building) as mentioned, that’s ok! The city has created a safe and easy way for cruise tourists to explore the city with a dedicated path to follow. Embedded in the sidewalk (and painted onto the street) is a blue line. If you follow this blue line, you’ll pass by several businesses before eventually ending up in the heart of the port-side town. Mazatlán has several famous squares lined with restaurants and shops. From the first square you enter from the blue line, you’ll see a large cathedral in the distance – about 2 more blocks. It’s quite easy to navigate to this area where you’ll find the Cathedral, open-air markets (a must-do!), outdoor shopping, street vendors (try the horchata!) and even a shopping mall. I mention the shopping mall because on the second floor you’ll find a public restroom. That comes in handy after all those margarit… I mean, horchatas!

Once you’ve toured the local market and got your fill of the cathedrals and crowds, it’s just about a 10-15 minute walk to the waterfront of Mazatlán. You can go for a dip in the water, or just walk along the historic Malecón. There are statues, restaurants, swimming spots, Club OXXOs, and so much more to explore. It’s also super easy to catch an open-air cab or Uber to return to the cruise port from here (or about a 20-25 minute walk).

Speaking of… If walking sounds all too much for you, Mazatlán is known for their open-air taxis. Pulmonias – or what we would likely call golf carts – are available right there as you exit the terminal building. The drivers will offer tours of the city (including cliff diving viewing!) and stops at the cathedral and historic places. If this option interests you, be sure you negotiate the rate up front – and don’t take the first rate you’re offered! You can also save some cash if you walk out of the terminal area and pick up a Pulmonia outside of the tourist building/space.

Onilikan Tequila Tasting

Whatever you choose to do on your day in Mazatlán, before you head back onto the ship, the terminal building has one of our favorite spots. Don’t miss this little corner liquor tasting under the big tented roof! Onilikan offers multiple different types of tequilas including flavors. They also produce Vodka, triple sec, and more! Stop by to pick up your mini-bottle sample pack, or purchase one of their larger bottles to take home. If you want the full experience, you can also arrange to visit their distillery in town!

Final Thoughts

We had a great time in Mazatlán, Mexico, despite the extremely hot and muggy weather. Our walking tour took us to the big cathedral, into the giant open-air market where vendors are selling their wares, and off to the beach of Playa Norte to hear the waves crashing on the shore. We made several stops at the famed Club OXXO for hydration to ensure we were able to beat the heat!

We’d love to hear about your experiences when visiting Mazatlán and if there are any must-do activities that are on your list each time you visit this port.

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