Trip Date 05/22/2018
Posted On 07/27/2018 17:07:36
Destinations | Cruises | Mexico Ports of Call | Old Mazatlan | DIY Mazatlan | Mazatlan on Your Own | Stone Island
We realized that we had been to Mazatlan in 2005 on a Mexican Rivera cruise, however we didn't remember much about our day. Since we always like to explore cities on our own, a little pre-cruise research introduced us to the "blue line" which would lead us on a 3/4 mile walk to Old Mazatlan.
If exploring on your own is appealing to you, Mazatlan is an easy port to do just that. Continue reading for an overview of our morning in Old Mazatlan plus our originally unplanned visit to Stone Island. Other than the cost of a couple of drinks that we sipped on the island (and a little shopping that we did), we spent a whopping $2.00 per person!
Walking to Old MazatlanThe port in Mazatlan is a container port - in order to exit all passengers must ride a "free and compulsory" shuttle. Our wait for boarding was brief, and Rodrigo drove the short distance to the cruise ship terminal in less than two minutes. The terminal building was packed full of vendor shops, and the best news was that the salespeople were not aggressive! Once we were outside, the atmosphere was a little different as the guides attempting to sell tours and the drivers offering taxi service were a bit more pushy. Once Scott said that we wanted to "walk for our health" they left us alone.
A member of our Cruise Critic roll call had shared a Mazatlan Tourist Aide found on the internet. It proved to be an excellent plan for our morning - as we passed through the port exit we could see the start of the "blue line" path to Centro Historico (Old Mazatlan).
We followed the blue line for a 20 minute walk from the port exit to the intersection of Calle Libertad and Calle Carnaval, the start of the pedestrian only zone.
Wandering through Old MazatlanOur typical travel mode is to "see a little bit of a lot of places" and we stayed in that mode as we hoped to have time to see more than the city's historical center. We paused at the beautiful entrance to Teatro Angela Peralta, the location for music, dance, drama, ballet and opera performances.
With park benches, decorative gardens, palm trees and a central kiosk, Plazuela Machado was located just across from the theater. The benches were the perfect place for us to sit down for a few minutes so we could look at the tourist information that the friendly expatriate residents gave us along our walk into Old Mazatlan.
Armed with a plan for the rest of the morning, we continued our walk a couple of blocks further down Carnaval Street before turning to walk the final block to Plazuela Republica. In addition to the Plaza Revolucion Stage, the square was also the home of the cathedral, city hall and post office.
We crossed over to the cathedral where we met Lenny, an expatriate who moved to Mazatlan nine years ago. He shared some history as well as the "claim to fame" of the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception.
While the cathedral was under construction, it became apparent that the budget was not sufficient to complete the building. With no strings attached, the Jewish community donated the money needed to complete the Catholic Church building. As a thank you, the 28 stained glass windows around the building's perimeter each have a Star of David at the top.
After leaving the cathedral, we walked a couple blocks further toward the market. We knew that we must be getting close to our destination when the number of shops and street vendors started to increase.
Mercado Pino Suarez, a year round market covering a full square block, had a large number of vendors selling various handcrafted items and souvenirs in addition to food. We roamed up and down many of the aisles looking at the wide assortment of fish and meat, fruits and vegetables as well as other food items - both fresh and preserved. Since we had plenty to eat on the ship, we weren't in the market for food, so we also perused the available clothing, accessories, souvenirs and more.
Although the beautiful day and wide variety of local restaurants with outside seating all looked appealing, we decided to head back toward the port after our shopping expedition. While we still had about half of our day remaining, we wanted to find our way to a second Mazatlan attraction before boarding our ship. We were happy that we had passed on the four hour Old Mazatlan Walking Tour offered by NCL at a cost of $45.00 US per person. In addition to visiting Old Mazatlan, the tour also included a stop to see the cliff divers plus some complimentary refreshments, however would have reduced the amount of time that we had in the afternoon.
Tips for a DIY Visit to Old MazatlanIf you are considering a visit to Old Mazatlan when your cruise ship will be in port, here's some suggestions for an on your own visit:
- Take a look at this very helpful Mazatlan Tourist Aide that was shared with us by a member of our Cruise Critic roll call.
- The combination of the blue line, the directional signs and the municipal police officers stationed at each street to stop automobile traffic alleviated any safety concerns. Additionally, the expatriate volunteers located throughout the walk into as well as near some of the main tourist sites inside the Centro Historico were extremely nice, willing to share information and eager to answer questions.
- If available, be sure to take the tourist information offered by the volunteers in the blue shirts. Both the Follow the Blue Line brochure and the Tourist Information Map were handy resources for our visit.
- If you plan to shop, it might be helpful to know that the vendors in both the Pino Suarez Market and the market in the cruise ship terminal were very willing to negotiate prices. Those in the brick and mortar locations near the market did not negotiate.
- US dollars seemed to be accepted everywhere.
Transportation to Stone IslandWe heard about Isla de la Piedra (Stone Island) from a fellow passenger who was contemplating a DIY day trip, so we did some quick research and found that a visit looked to be easy and inexpensive. Rather than entering back into the cruise terminal when we reached the security entrance on our blue line return walk, we headed to the right in search of Playa Sur Embarcadero. We finally saw a sign outside of a fenced area that said "Water Taxi to Stone Island", and soon located a ticket booth at the water's edge. The less than 5 minute ferry ride cost us $2.00 US per person (round trip).
Our Walk on the Beach and Drinks with a ViewWe disembarked the water taxi and walked across the peninsula to the long beautiful stretch of sandy beach lined with restaurants and a coconut grove which stretched as far as the eye could see. We met another couple on our short ferry ride, and the four of us walked along the beach sharing travel stories and attempting to avoid the many vendors selling everything from food and drinks to horseback riding, boat rentals and photos with iguanas.
After strolling a good ways down the sandy beach we decided it was time to cool off under a palapa so we headed back to El Velero, one of the restaurants that we passed earlier in the afternoon. We had our choice of seating and after ordering some drinks, we talked and people watched. From our table with its great view of the water we could see surfers and swimmers and youngsters playing in the waves - and we even heard a serenade from a nearby mariachi band.
NCL offered a Stone Island Beach Getaway priced at $79.00 US per person which included a 25 minute catamaran cruise, a tractor ride to the beach, 3 hours to enjoy Stone Island (including a horseback ride or a horse driven carriage ride) and lunch. Although we missed out on the catamaran and tractor ride, we got to experience a more local flare - traveling to the island in much the same way as do the inhabitants of Mazatlan. I feel pretty sure that, had we wanted lunch or a ride in a carriage or on a horse, the cost would have been far less than the $154.00 that we saved!
Returning to the Norwegian BlissThe return ride via ferry was just as easy as our trip out to Stone Island - we just walked back to the dock, showed our round trip tickets and boarded. The only two differences were that we were required to wear life jackets for our return and we were joined by more cruise ship passengers as well as five locals - proof that we traveled just as they do! Five minutes later we started our walk back to the cruise terminal.
Getting back on the ship was a little more time consuming than exiting the ship. We only had to wait a short while for a shuttle with available space for the two of us, but the line to pass through security wasn't moving quite as fast. With passengers from both our ship and the Carnival Splendor waiting in the long line, I decided to use my time efficiently - I shopped while Scott held my place in line. Two pair of shoes later, I was happy and we were closer to the front of the line!
Tips for a DIY Visit to Stone IslandHere's some helpful information for making your way to Stone Island on your own:
- Stone Island Mazatlan provides a good overview of what to expect during your visit.
- The Directions to Stone Island helped us locate Playa Sur Embarcadero - just remember that the Baja Ferry Dock is not where your cruise ship will be docked.
- Again, US dollars seemed to be accepted everywhere.
Puerto Vallarta, MexicoIf you enjoy seeing a port city on your own and your cruise includes a port day in Puerto Vallarta, take a look at our posts titled Exploring Puerto Vallarta's Romantic Zone On Our Own and 11 Must See Attractions in the Romantic Zone of Puerto Vallarta for ideas. When docked for a full day, there is plenty of time for exploring the city!
A Day in MazatlanWhat's your favorite way to occupy your time during a day in Mazatlan, Mexico?
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