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With its dazzling coastline and year-round warm weather, Mazatlan is a naturally ideal destination for travelers who like to spend lots of time outdoors. And while there is certainly plenty of justification for staying put and relaxing on the beach or at the hotel pool, there are equally good reasons to venture out and enjoy some outdoor excitement.
Here are eight noteworthy options, and the tour operators that help make the experiences happen.
Spend a Day on Deer IslandAn uninhabited island that lies just off the coast of Mazatlan, Isla de Venados (Deer Island) is a popular destination for day trippers looking for a beautiful, uncrowded beach with plenty of activities and room to relax. Tour operators including Best Day and Aries Fleet offer scheduled public trips to the island, with plenty of time for sunbathing, beach volleyball and watersports that range from snorkeling to banana boat rides and sea kayaking. Lunch on the beach is usually included in the price. In addition, Aries Fleet offers private catamaran charters for up to 29 passengers, for those looking to customize their visit.
Get Lucky While Deep-Sea FishingThe Pacific waters just off Mazatlan’s coast are a rewarding place for sport fishing enthusiasts, with catches that include blue marlin, mackerel, snapper and tuna. Anglers should check the calendar for the best time to go after their favorite fish.
Aries Fleet offers deep-sea fishing charters with prices starting at $325 for a six-hour excursion; a variety of ship types are available for rent.
Spot Some Feathered FriendsThe region surrounding Mazatlan is filled with diverse flora and fauna, and birdwatching is one of the most pleasurable activities for nature lovers looking to explore some lesser-known areas. A tour operator called King David offers a birdwatching excursion that includes a 1.5-hour boat ride through a protected wildlife refuge, where passengers can see species that include marine falcons, pelicans and various types of herons. The trip encompasses a leisurely stop at Stone Island, where participants can spend time on the beach and have lunch at Molokay, a casual beachfront restaurant that specializes in fresh seafood and Mexican dishes.
Hop on an ATVVacationers looking for fast-paced, land-based excitement will do well with an all-terrain vehicle excursion with King David, which includes ground and boat transfers and a nearly two-hour ATV ride through the lush landscape of Stone Island, where riders can explore vast coconut plantations, mangroves and — of course — the wide and picturesque beach.
Head to the RanchVista Tours offers a multifaceted tour to Playa Norte, which allows for a variety of activities including birdwatching and even feeding giant frigate birds. Participants can learn about one of Mazatlan’s biggest industries during an informative visit to a large shrimping fleet (it’s advertised as Mexico’s largest), and also learn about traditional life on the ranch during a stop in the village of Puerta de Canoas, where “dancing” horses provide engaging open-air entertainment.
Admire the SunsetSunsets are legendary in Mazatlan, and a cruise is one of the best ways to fully appreciate (and document) their photo-friendly grandeur. Pronatours offers a year-round, 3.5-hour excursion aboard a trimaran (a multihull boat), complete with an open bar, roundtrip hotel transportation and food onboard.
Help the TurtlesWorldwide efforts to protect endangered turtle species have gained fame around the globe, and Mazatlan is no exception. Pronatours offers a guided trip to El Verde Camacho, located just north of Mazatlan, a sea turtle sanctuary that releases thousands of Olive Ridley baby turtles every year. It’s an excellent opportunity for visitors to learn how biologists study and collect data on sea turtle nesting, and how volunteers and experts alike can take part in protecting these beautiful creatures. The tour is offered from July through November.
Stroll the MaleconOne of Mazatlan’s most iconic attractions, the malecon is a waterfront promenade that stretches an impressive 13 miles along the city’s waterfront. You may not see every inch of this expansive attraction, but it’s a good idea to at check out the much-photographed sculptures that rise from the pavement in the Olas Altas neighborhood, near the Acapulco-style cliff divers, who provide yet another photo-worthy, open-air form of entertainment. In Mazatlan, there isn’t much excuse for staying indoors.