A local’s guide to Mazatlán

Street poetry by Acción Poética Mazatlán.

Mmm, Mazatlán.

Alaska Airlines customer service agent Karen Solis says she likes to joke with her customers. “The first step they see is immigration and I get to make their first smile in Mazatlan.”

Between its golden beaches, local seafood and renowned nightlife, it’s easy to see why this resort town on the Pacific Ocean is such a popular vacation destination.

But for those who crave an experience that’s a little more off the beaten path, it’s worth a round of “what do the locals do?”
Alaska Airlines customer service agent Karen Solis has lived most of her life in the “Pearl of the Pacific,” and offers these hyper-local tips.

She says most people probably have no idea that the world’s tallest natural working lighthouse is in Mazatlán, that 30 percent of all vegetables eaten in Mexico are grown in Sinaloa, or that the people of Sinaloa are known throughout the country for their beauty.

Book your flight: destination Mazatlán.

Best place to eat in Mazatlán:

Solis’s current favorite restaurant is Holly Mole & Pozole near the Plaza Machado in the historic center of Mazatlán.

“It’s a colorful, Mexican-designed restaurant that offers handmade Mexican cuisine for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It is delicious and very cheap – try everything!”

You'll know tiny El Ranchito Feliz when you see it.
You’ll know tiny El Ranchito Feliz when you see it.

For breakfast, she recommends El Ranchito Feliz, a tiny open-air restaurant on the Avenue Sabalo Cerritos (near Quintas del Mar). You’ll know it by the woman making homemade tortillas over the stove. Travelers who speak some Spanish will have a leg up, but you can get by pointing out your selection on a chalkboard.

Everybody loves cocos helados. They taste even better in the open air with chicks running around by your feet.
Everybody loves cocos helados. They taste even better in the open air with baby chicks running around by your feet.

If you’re staying somewhere with a kitchen, visit El Mercado de la Juarez for fresh meat and vegetables at reasonable prices. Don’t miss the marinated beef tacos at Taqueria Hildalgo while you’re there.

“I’m crazy about those places,” says Solis. “As you can see, I love food!”

Best way to spend a night on the town:

Have a drink at Joe’s Oyster Bar, a beachfront bar in the Zona Dorada and a favorite local nightclub. Treat yourself to music and drinks while enjoying the Malecon oceanfront promenade and sightseeing at El Cerro de la Neveria or El Cerro del Vigia. You can get there in a “Pulmonia” – an open taxi cab that looks like a golf cart and costs about $20 per hour for four people.

A visitor bicycles along the Malecon.
A visitor bicycles along the Malecon.

Best beach in Mazatlán:

The best beach for families with children is right in front of the Las Flores Beach Resort, says Solis. Locals head to the Playa los Pinitos for snorkeling and clear water. Secluded beaches can be found at the south end of Mazatlán’s famous Stone Island. Solis recommends skipping the tour and taking a boat like the locals do (about $6 roundtrip).

Best outdoor activity around Mazatlán:

Solis recommends the Huana Coa Canopy Tour which combines a zip-line tour with a tour and tequila tasting at La Hacienda Los Osuna.

For a quieter experience, take a sailboat to tranquil Deer Island. At Bird Island, the draws are bird-watching and secluded beaches.

Best can’t-miss activity in Mazatlán:

Solis says every visitor to Mazatlán should make time to visit charming El Quelite. The town is a quick 40-minute drive from Mazatlán, and full of colorful houses, art galleries and restaurants serving authentic rural Sinaloan food.

Agave plants grow near La Hacienda Los Osuna.
Agave plants grow near La Hacienda Los Osuna.

Alaska Airlines flies six weekly round-trip flights between Los Angeles and Mazatlán from November through April, and three weekly round-trip flights from May through October.

Book your flight: destination Mazatlán.

What are your favorite hidden treasures in Mazatlán?


  1. Juanita’s restaurant across the street from Oceano Palace Hotel after surfing at the beaches close by. Also fresh coconuts stand beachside in the Los Pinos neighborhood. The friendly and laid back locals and Mexican people in general. Mazatlan is the best you will want to return again and again.

    1. Yes! The best coconuts are in playa los pinitos, the locals beach that they mention 🙂

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