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“Shh, you will disturb that egret,” my friend admonished as we were walking through the gardens on Stone Island, or Isla de las Piedras, in Mazatlan.
The gardens, which are just a few years old, are not well-known even to the residents of Mazatlan.
The formal name of the gardens, which I have visited twice, is Amaitlan, and it is part of a real-estate development that now appears to be dormant. The gardens are well-built, with stone pathways and benches to rest on as one takes in the different views. The first time I was there, I saw a handful of egrets, but upon my most recent visit in December, my friend Paul and I saw some 30 egrets take flight. It was breathtaking.
When we saw the spectacular birds in flight, we were near the edge of a large pond, the center of attraction in the gardens. The gardens stretch over nearly 5 acres and feature five different botanical environments. One could walk the gardens in 20 minutes or spend two hours there, depending on the level of peacefulness desired. The best time to visit is early to mid-morning or in the late afternoon.
The journey there begins with a ferry that leaves from a downtown dock located near Plaza Machado in Old Town Mazatlan. Any pulmonia (Mazatlan’s famous white open-air taxi) driver can get you to the dock for about $3 from Plaza Machado or about $5 from the Golden Zone.
The cost for the short boat ride across the channel is just $1 each way. On Sundays, local Mexican families venture to the island to dine at its dozen or so beachfront, palm-shaded restaurants, which fill up fast. These family-run eateries serve delicious fresh fish, lobster, ceviche and more.
Shade is in short supply, but I found some at the back of the Cactus Garden, where I found cool solace by the arms of a regal-looking tree. Entrance if free, and if you go, remember to take bug spray and binoculars.