To make the most of your time in this port of call, it is useful to have a guide to the best Mazatlán beaches. What is special about this cruise destination is twofold. First, there are many, many beaches from which to choose.
Along this coast, you will find over 20 miles of beaches – “playas” in Spanish. This often means that the crowds are dispersed; and, you have the opportunity for quality oceanside fun with your family.
Second, the beaches are not all the same. While we love the sandy shoreline (and there are some great choices for this), “the beach” in Mazatlán will look and feel unique depending on which one you visit. Sometimes this is based on the geography and sometimes the culture.
Other times the indigenous flora and fauna and human priorities have shaped the landscape. Regardless of where you choose to spend time on the beach though, it will be an adventure. Let’s explore.
Playa Los Pinos
Make this your destination beach for the unique experience of tide pools. When the ocean recedes at low tide, little puddles of seawater are left behind in the rocky areas of this beach.
Every day this creates the chance to get a close look at creatures that you might not otherwise see. Search at Playa Los Pinos during low tide for starfish, sea anemone, sea urchins, barnacles and more.
Take your fishing gear and try your luck from the rocky outcroppings or come by in the early morning to purchase seafood right from the ocean. Also, there are delicious cooked favorites from the sea sold by the local street vendors at this beach.
This is a good location to ride some waves, too. With several levels of ocean activity, beginners can choose a spot to learn and more intermediate surfers can challenge their skills. The beach lies on a gentle incline and water temperatures range from warm to cool.
Playa Cerritos & Playa Bruja
Our guide to the best Mazatlán beaches includes Playa Cerritos and Playa Bruja at the northern end. The former is a nice, quiet stretch of sand with rocky outcroppings dotting the surroundings. Located on a piece of land jutting northwest into the ocean, this location has a relaxed feel. It only takes about 20 minutes to get here from downtown.
For a more rugged beach experience, go to Playa Bruja just south of our first beach. Crashing into the craggy rock formations at this destination are some challenging waves. The undertow is strong here, and there are no lifeguards. So, only the strongest swimmers, surfers and body boarders should brave the waters.
Translated as Witch Beach, this location is rich with local lore. Stop by one of the traditional palapa restaurants for fresh seafood meals, and ask about the witch doctors!
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One nice benefit of these beaches is the lack of visitors. If you would like some privacy to soak in the scenery, breathe in the ocean air, listen to the waves and collect seashells, then these are the destinations for you. Or, take your tackle to what is considered some of the best fishing spots in the area. The exact location is rumored to be the rocky shelf jutting into the sea at Playa Bruja.
Playa Isla De La Piedra
If you are looking for a quiet beach with calm waters, Playa Isla De La Piedra makes this guide to the best Mazatlán beaches. Hop a five-minute water taxi to this destination (Stone Island Beach) and leave the crowds behind. This is where locals go to get away from it all – so, we know it is a terrific destination.
Once on the peninsula (not geographically an island), you will find the warm shallow waters extend over twelve feet out into the ocean. Protected from the dramatic waves and currents of the Pacific, this sheltered cove is a great spot to take the kids.
Grab a bite from the many eateries located right on the beach. It might be a difficult decision where to eat and relax since several of the restaurants have decades-long histories of serving topnotch seafood and local fare. And, in keeping with a downhome vibe, there are not many fancy or luxury distractions – just sand, sun and fun.
Enjoy other activities such as a banana boat ride, live music, or a horseback or ATV ride. Playa Isla De La Piedra is also a popular spot for snorkeling.
Spend the day in the water at Playa Sabalo at the north end of Mazatlán’s Golden Zone. Islands protect the waters at this location, making them calm and welcoming for all kinds of activities. You can take a sailing trip or a banana boat ride. Wade, swim or bodysurf near the shore. Or, fly over in a parasailing adventure.
There are horses for a ride along the beach and few crowds here. The firm sand makes for a nice early morning, late afternoon or moonlight stroll. And, take your camera. The islands dotting the horizon offshore are picturesque, particularly at sunrise and sunset.
It will take a taxi ride and a short walk to reach the public beach. There are plenty of restaurants (also, a bit of a walk away) and lots of other amenities in the area. The beach is located on the oceanside of a couple of resorts and it is definitely worth the trip.
Playa El Verde Camacho
For my fellow wildlife enthusiasts, Playa El Verde Camacho is in this guide to the best Mazatlán beaches. The four-mile pristine strip of sand is located in one of the country’s most important eco-reserves. It is a certified conservation area with restrictions on development to protect the flora and fauna and their habitats.
One of the most popular animals to see here is the Olive Ridley Sea Turtle. Its shell is heart-shaped and its species is the second smallest in the world. There are also more turtle species, birds and plant life to see. Learn about efforts to protect these beautiful turtles and other wildlife in this critical environment.
The best way to see all that this area has to offer is via a guided tour. This guards against inadvertently damaging the land and controls the number of visitors to this treasured beach.
Take a stroll along Mazatlán’s longest beach, named Playa Norte (North Beach). For three miles, beginning at the famous Fisherman’s Monument, this beautiful strip of white sand has been one of the most popular destinations for decades. Yet, it is surprisingly uncrowded on most days – except for holidays. Rent a deck chair and just hang out beside the blue sea.
The water is warm and the waves are mild – the perfect combination for relaxing at the beach. There is even a local swimming club that meets here for activities in the sea. As a visitor, you can go fishing, boating or rent a jet ski for fast fun on the water.
With a bit of good timing, you can see the fishermen coming in from the ocean and the Sea of Cortez with the day’s catch. Their harvest is likely to be on your plate when you eat at one of the many local restaurants conveniently located here.
Playa Olas Atlas
The surf is calling at Playa Olas Atlas, which translates to “Beach of the Big Waves.” This destination was one of the first places “discovered” by tourists in the 1940s. And, remains a top spot to visit today. Although swimming is not recommended here, you can rent surfing equipment and even take some lessons while visiting.
Located at the south side of The Malecón, it is the closest beach to access by land from the cruise terminal. Enjoy great views of the islands. Also, photo opportunities for stunning sunsets happen every day when the weather is clear. Just a few steps away is the Centro Historico – the historic area of town that has served as the commercial center since 1847.
Surfers come from around the globe to charge the waves here. And, others stroll one of the longest elevated walkways in the world (The Malecón) to see the area. For the rest of us, sitting comfortably on the beach with a cool drink and watching the live surfing show is THE best way to enjoy this beach!
Playa Las Gaviotas
Located in the city’s Golden Zone, Playa Las Gaviotas is a ‘sister beach’ with the adjoining sands of Playa Camaron. While these destinations make all the travel guides paired together, these are actually two quite distinct beaches. Each has its own characteristics that draw visitors for different reasons.
Translated as “seagulls beach,” our first stop at the northern side is busy with parties. It is also one of the easiest places to book excursions, rent gear for water sports or shop in local retail establishments. And, there are a couple of restaurants and bars that will come to the beach to take orders for food and drinks.
The lay of the land is gently sloping silky sand. You can almost always count on a gentle breeze to keep you cool. And, the waves are soft and low. For the treasure hunters, this beach of golden sand is a place to start hunting for seashells. It is conveniently located near the Museo de Conchas (shell museum) for a reason!
Our second destination at the southern part of this strip is Playa Camaron. Meaning “shrimp beach,” this part of the larger area is also a great place to hunt for seashells. But, that is about the extent of its similarity to Playa Las Gaviotas.
Here the beach becomes quite narrow – and, even more so at high tide. The waves also have a different personality. While they are subtle at Playa Las Gaviotas, they break quickly and return to the open sea with a greater urgency here. This calls to all the people who enjoy bodysurfing and body-boarding to give it a try at this location.
The coarse sand is deep here. So, there are better places for beach walking. However, it is a good spot to stroll along The Malecón, grab a bite to eat and watch the water fun.
Isla de Venados
If you want to visit a place near the hustle and bustle of Mazatlán yet worlds away, then Isla de Venados is the right beach for you! While it is not often mentioned in tourism brochures, this small getaway at “Deer Island” is “one of the more pristine beaches that can be accessed from the city.”
The best way to enjoy this destination beach is to book a tour. Typically included in these adventures are the boat ride to and from the island, a meal, drinks and some type of activity like snorkeling. For the athletically inclined, take a paddle (with a group) out to the island – it’s that close to the shore. Once there, you can also scuba dive at a reef.
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On the island, which is a designated Nature Reserve, take a hike up to the top to get a one-of-a-kind view of the city. Keep an eye open for the 43 species of birds, iguanas, snakes, bats and 13 land mammal species, including, of course, white-tailed deer. Be advised that facilities are limited; so, pack your supplies accordingly.
A visit to Playa Marlin is in any guide to the best Mazatlán beaches for the quintessential seashore experience. Rent a chair and beach umbrella and sink your toes into the sugar sand. While the waters can be a little rough for swimming (strong waves and powerful undertows), spend the day watching the parasailers and walking along the water’s edge.
Mazatlán waters are known as the “billfish capital of the world” of which marlin are member species. So, a visit here should include time at this namesake beach. It is located close to the shopping mall, restaurants and souvenir shops.
Additionally, the many street food vendors offer local flavors for inexpensive prices. The south end of this beach has a sheltered cove where local fishermen land their skiffs. Also, a great way to see the local culture of this seaside city.