On the north end of Mazatlan is a funky, narrow, poorly designed channel that gives you access to El Cid Marina, Marina Mazatlan, and Isla Marina, and the tiny but charming Marina Costa Bonita. El Cid is an excellent place to live the resort life, or do a bit of inland travel. For the storm season you’re probably better off put away properly in Marina Mazatlan. Deep discounts for summer dockage are to be had there as well.
There are the obvious Tres Islas (from north to south Pajaros, Venados, Lobo) to avoid, but clear passage is made on either side of any of them. The real trick is getting safely into the channel. This is a dogleg steering maneuver in often breaking waves with both sandbars and a dredge blocking a significant portion of the already narrow channel. In our opinion, this is the most treacherous channel entrance on the west coast, and has claimed a number of cruising boats, including at least one in 2020. Best to take your time, circle around, keep good lookout for a mast or other evidence of an outbound boat, and time your approach carefully.
Once in the channel, you have multiple marina options (see their individual listings, and make reservations before arriving). El Cid is the first up, with a lovely resort hotel attached and excellent poolside fun. It is, however, subject to substantial surge from the aforementioned channel entrance.
All of these marinas give you great access to Mazatlan, and there is much fun to be had. Restaurants, Tres Islas Brewing Company, rooftop cocktails, hiking El Faro, beach walking and surfing, nights at the opera house or other cultural events. And we’re not even going to get into Carnival or the big Motorcycle parade. Explore!
The quintessential Mazatlan experience has to be riding to and from a great dinner downtown in a “pulmonia.” These are open-air modified VW taxis that look like suped-up golf carts with blaring stereos. These vehicles got their name from the angry cab drivers in the 60s who were trying to convince the locals that a ride in one would give you pneumonia. The name stuck, and so did the funky cute taxis. They are endemic to Mazatlan, and a hoot to ride in. Tell your driver to turn up the jams and rock your way into the night. Classic.