mazatlan on the cheap
We were very impressed with Mazatlan, it seemed like a lot of people there were also Canadian so we felt at home. There were a lot of references to Canada that we saw in Mazatlan (like a Canucks restaurant) and the locals told us there were probably more Canadians than Americans there. Many are retirees or snowbirds leaving the cold winters to head down to Mexico during the cold months. Mazatlan is considered more economical than the other resort towns in Mexico, such as Puerto Vallarta and Cancun. I would have preferred to go to Cancun but we wanted to limit the flights to shorter flights and stick to the Pacific side.
Our flights were the most expensive thing, it was about $325 USD per ticket from Los Angeles to MZT (Mazatlan). Other than that we spent $55 USD for accommodation and about $150 USD for food, transportation etc. and everything else.
where to stay
For four nights, we stayed at a two bedroom condo called the Sea Garden on the edge of town. It was far from the center of things and all the other resorts but it was a much quieter area. We had a beautiful view of the ocean and pools and it was perfect! Especially since it cost us $55 USD for the four nights. Yes, you read that correctly. More on that in my timeshare travel hacking post coming up.
what we ate and drank
- For breakfast, we had oatmeal packages that we brought on the carry on luggage, and two eggs and some fruit. Baby GYM had his organic squeeze pouch baby food for breakfast.
- Room service pizza for $15. The tax and tip were included and the price of the room service pizza was the same as eating at the hotel restaurant downstairs. This was our dinner on the day we arrived since we didn’t have time to go to the store to buy groceries.
- Fried rice for 20 pesos (around $1.25 USD) and fried rice with two choices combo for 45 pesos ($2.50) in Historico Centro (I think it was called Murale Chino or something, basically “The Great Wall”- it is a chain).
- Liverpool breakfast buffet at the Las Gallerias shopping mall– this was a very authentic all-you-can-eat Mexican breakfast for under $10! Nothing was labeled unfortunately so I didn’t really know what I was having but it was all pretty good. Liverpool is like a department store.
- Purchased at the El Mercado, we bought fresh whole red snapper and 1lb of prawns for $7 USD (this was an absolute DEAL compared to back home in Canada!). We just boiled the prawns (in bottled water of course) and they were so delicious! We just steamed the snapper and had it with some onions and cucumber. You can get away with being not creative when you’re too cheap to buy oil, butter, salt, and pepper or other seasonings. It really brings out the natural flavour of the food you’re eating!
- We also went to the local Walmart- Some of the purchases at Walmart were a 10L bottle of water, bananas, oranges, a pineapple, canned corn/peas, onions, cucumber, honeydew, palmier pastry treats, and eggs. Basically, all the patrons at Walmart were non-Mexicans.
- McDonald’s- I had an ice cream cone for 12 Mexican Pesos (or about $0.70 CAD).
- Corona beer was super cheap, about $1 CAD a can at the grocery store. Of course, I had a can of beer with my prawns.
Getting to and from the airport to the edge of town cost around $21 USD with a taxi. The rates seem pretty fixed and it is negotiated between the driver and the tourist. They have a lot of golf-card inspired looking open top taxis in Mazatlan and they are called Pulmonias. Apparently, Pulmonias are not found anywhere else, just Mazatlan! Taxi drivers in Mazatlan do not need a tip (and I can confirm this when we didn’t tip and they were still very kind) as these are fixed prices. More details here in this Tripadvisor post.
There is a bus (Sabalo-Centro) that costs 11 Mexican pesos and runs pretty regularly to the Golden Zone (where all the hotels and restaurants are) and the “Old Town” Centro Historico where the cathedral is. It’s not luggage or stroller friendly though!
Related: PC Travel Review
what to see and do
- The Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception was built in 1899 and is hard to miss. It is currently being restored. It is very beautiful and there is a nice plaza beside it.
- El Mercado was a nice visit, there are lots of tourist stalls and knick-knack and souvenirs if you’re into that sort of thing. There are also fruits and vegetables and meat and fish stalls right beside the knick-knack and souvenirs. All under one roof of course. This is where we got our fresh seafood for an unbeatable price. Everyone who visited Mazatlan seemed to have one of the ubiquitous tourist Mazatlan T-shirts.
- It was just nice walking around the streets. The Centro Historico area is not very big.
- Walk for 1 hour and take a round-about adventure courtesy of Google Maps to the Las Gallerias mall and bushwack your way with a stroller through fallen down chain link fences. I don’t know how Google Maps thought that was a walking road. Then see condors flying above you and swooping down, and be fearful that they are going to swoop your baby away haha. Everything is fenced off so we couldn’t enter the mall from the back and had to go around it, alongside the sewage.
- Pool time. It was fun to have time to sit at the pool or enjoy the beach. Baby GYM loves “swimming”. We couldn’t go in the Pacific Ocean, the waves were quite high/ dangerous and there were jellyfish in the water.
In summary, we were very very impressed with Mazatlan. People were so friendly and hospitable. They just seem to LOVE children, an elderly local man came up to baby GYM, smiled, and started patting his head and said “bonito bonito bonito!!” and kept smiling. The food was very reasonable and the sunsets were beautiful. I can see why there are so many Canadian retired snowbirds coming to Mazatlan regularly for the winter.
Why stick with the cold Canadian winters and be trapped indoors most of the time when you can be enjoying the Pacific Ocean and warm weather of Mazatlan AND have most of the conveniences that North Americans are used to at very reasonable prices (namely Walmart, Schtick razors for under $1, and Corona beer for $1).
Readers, have you been to Mazatlan before? Anything that you would recommend eating, seeing, or doing?
GYM is a 30 something millennial interested in achieving financial freedom through disciplined saving, dividend and ETF investing, and living a minimalist lifestyle. Before you go, check out my recommendations page of financial tools I use to save and invest money. Don’t forget to subscribe for blog updates, a free dividend yield spreadsheet, and the free Young Money Bootcamp eCourse.