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Mazatlan, Mexico
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Mazatlan: The Pacific Pearl of Mexico

One of the beautiful hotel pools in MazatlanThe Sea of Cortez and the Pacific Ocean join waves at the sheltered harbor of Mazatlan, the largest Pacific Coast port in Mexico. The confluence of these waters and the sea's reputation as "the greatest fishing trap in the hemisphere," have made Mazatlan a premier destination for sports fishermen. Fresh water lakes within easy range provide the alternative of bass fishing, and some call it the best in the world.

Mazatlan is an ancient Nahuatl word that means "land of the deer" -- not exactly a name you'd expect for a fishing port. But there's more to this town than seafood. Visitors can attend the bullfights every Sunday during the winter, stroll the Mazatlan art gallery to view significant works by Mexican artists, gaze at the second highest lighthouse in the world (Gibraltar has the highest), or head over to Acuario Mazatlan where more than 250 Mazatlan'sies of sea life swim behind glass and sea lions put on a daily show.

The nightlife scene in Mazatlan is first rate. Dancing, live music and festive watering holes are plentiful. Señor Frog's is an extravaganza of music, zany waiters, and exotic drinks. Valentinos is a posh disco and nightclub (with two separate dance floors) perched high overlooking the Pacific. El Caracol is four stories of lights, laser beams, music and video screens - Mazatlan's most extravagant disco. Lion's Salsa and Zafari has tropical decor and live music. La Guitarra features live disco music and dancing. Head to the Bora Bora Bar and Joe's Oyster Bar for "on-the-beach" disco dancing.

For a quieter evening there is Bar La Terraza or Mikonos, both featuring Piano and live music.

What to know before you go

Time Zone
Mountain standard time
7 hours behind Greenwich Mean Time. (GMT)

Nuevo peso (MXN). 100 centavos = 1 MXN. Traveler's checks and credit cards are accepted at most tourist locations.

City Code - 69

Entry Requirements
A valid passport and Tourist Card are the standard acceptable travel documents. However, if you're an American or Canadian citizen, the following items are also acceptable:

  • An original birth certificate
  • U.S. naturalization papers
  • A notarized affidavit of citizenship
  • A valid voter registration card

Each of these must be accompanied by a photo ID such as a valid Driver's License.

All of the airlines flying to Mexico can and will provide you with the Tourist Card and instructions. Be sure to keep a copy of your Tourist Card in a safe place. You will need this document upon departure from Mexico.

Your tourist card will be endorsed for a 90 day stay. If planning to stay more than a couple weeks, be sure to ask for the maximum entry of 180 days. Applying for a longer stay can be a hassle once in Mexico. Play it safe!

Generally, rains fall and temperatures rise from June through October, leaving November through May as the more temperate, drier season.
Mezatlan has warm tropical weather year round. Warm, dry days and balmy evenings from November through May. The rainy season is June through October, with daily rain showers and warm temperatures. Annual average temperature: 77 degrees F or 27 degree C.

What to Bring
Be sure to include the following in your suitcase (or backpack, or briefcase- as the case may be!).
- A pocket-size English/Spanish dictionary
- A small first aid kit
- Camera and Film
- Walking Shoes
- Suntan Lotion
- Traveler's Checks & ATM cards
- Swim Suits
- Casual Dress Clothes for Nightlife and Fine Dining
- Sunglasses & Hat
- Necessary medications
- Passport/Birth Certificate & Driver's License

Health Tips
In your quest for a good time on your vacation, your eating and drinking habits are often radically different than what you're used to back home. In addition, climate and altitude changes can throw your system off. To ensure you enjoy your vacation to its fullest, consider the following: Be sure to drink lots of fluids; especially the day before arriving.

Try not to go overboard your first night. Give your body a chance to acclimate. Drink only distilled or bottled water.

When buying fresh fruits and vegetables, be sure to wash them with distilled or bottled water before eating; peel them if possible.

Money, Exchange & Credit
The Mexican economy operates on the rise and fall of the Peso. While most businesses will accept foreign currency, especially US dollars, using pesos is your best bet. Foreign currency can be exchanged at one of many casas de cambio (exchange houses).

Mexican banking hours are normally Monday-Friday from 9:00 AM to 5:00 P.M. however for money exchange the hours time are normally from 9:00 A.M. to 1:00 P.M. Casas de cambio are open later than most banks and they generally offer quicker service.

Credit cards are widely accepted, with Visa, MasterCard, and American Express being the most popular.

Helpful Books

Pacific Mexico Handbook; Including Acapulco, Puerto Vallarta, Oaxaca, Guadalajara, and Mazatlan
Bruce Whipperman / Paperback / Published 1999
Fodor's Baja and Mexico's Pacific Coast Resorts - Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan, Manzanillo
Carolyn Price

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