Not the Spring Break of the 90s…but all the nostalgia.
First off, we should point out that we were in Mazatlan during covid and that almost every place we frequented was taking precautions ie temp checks, masks, social distance. From what we could tell seemed like if you wanted to getaway (at your own risk) Mazatlan might be the place.
Secondly, we have been to Cabo (San Lucas/ San Jose), Cancun, Puerto Vallarta, Sayulita, Ixtapa, Oaxaca, Manzanilla, Playa Del Carmen, Riveria Maya …we have not been to Tulum…we have also been to Mexico City a couple times.
The reason for the second point is a little bit of perspective.
We rate Mazatlan 85 – 92
We rate Cabo 84 – 88
We rate Sayulita 86 – 89
Again more perspective.
Here’s the scoop…Mazatlan (IMHO) is divided into 3 zones (you won’t find these zones on any maps or in any research…this is just what we think).
First zone is your all inclusive / spring break 90s zone. Foam parties – enough said.
Second zone is middle tier Malecon zone. In the 2nd zone you are exposed to direct sun with open beach but little vegetation and many shops and beach seafood spots. Also you will find the infamous Miramar (look it up).
The third zone is the area we highly recommend. More quaint, more vibey. Here you will find good restaurants like Totem and Hectors as well as countless little bars. As for places to stay we recommend Casa Lucila a 8 room boutique hotel with views of zone 3 Mazatlan. The beach in zone 3 is smaller, finding beach chairs/ umbrellas seems to be an issue. In all reality we sat at Puerto Vieja a dive bar on the malecon and drank micheladas till sunset. And we could have just sat on the rooftop of Casa Lucila too…but we enjoyed talking with the friendly staff and expats at the outdoor dive bars that dot zone 3s malecon.
We loved the 80s pop / rock classics bumping from the golf cart like vehicles that cruise the malecon to the Mexican songs that blare from trucks also driving the malecon. If you close your eyes it’s the 80s / 90s you loved in a safe and clean Mexico beach destination.
We kept saying “there is just a little bit of all the places in Mexico we love here Mazatlan.” From Cabos’ dive bars to Oaxacas’ restaurants to Puerto Vallarta’s beach to Cancuns’ clubs. But the sum of the whole will not equal parts – get it? Like if you love Cabo will you all of sudden be like Mazatlan is the shit? We doubt it. If you love the super quaintness of Sayulita will you think Mazatlan is your vibe – prob not.
In closing if you are looking for a little bit of all of the best parts of Mexico (beach destination wise not the cultural hub of Mexico City), looking for a family getaway, a friends vacation, a couples retreat, then we would recommend Mazatlan.