[Maaike Hoekstra is a hands-on mom who loves to bike, hike, swim, zipline, skate, bowl, you name the sport and she’s there participating with her two teenagers. When you read about an activity you know that “it’s mom inspected”. Maaike is originally from Holland where she obtained a degree in agriculture from Wageningen University. During her university years she met and fell in love with her Mexican husband, Pablo, where he was earning his PhD. Pablo was already employed in Mazatlan with the CIAD Research Institute so the young couple made Mazatlan their home 17 years ago. Maaike is full of energy [she may have caught your attention in her previous job at Salsa and Salsa] and not only is she a busy mom but she has sung in local Angela Peralta opera choir since 2005. She’s a voracious reader and belongs to a Spanish book club. [One of her secret dreams is to take all children out of the FB digital bubble and show them more.] She and Pablo introduce “more” to their children through extensive travel in Mexico and they share their passion for Mexican food, culture and arts. Their home is trilingual – Dutch, Spanish and English. You can reach this enthusiastic mother, wife, singer, dancer, traveller, cook and daredevile, owner and founder of Mazatlan’s only street food tour, Flavor Teller.
Maaike updated these on October 2021 – please remember all Covid 19 protocols are in place.Also please check FB for accurate pricing.
“Why walk when you can jump!” – Jumping Time trampoline park
Who doesn’t remember the joy of jumping up and down on the bed? This moment of ultimate (and secret) fun that would last until your mother came around the corner and caught you red-handed. No need to hide anymore, because bouncing or rebounding is the newest health craze. Time to put this to practice at Jumping Time trampoline park at Galerias mall. The bright blue and green interior with over 40 interconnected trampolines is your invitation into the venue. There is almost no walking space and as a big quote on the wall says “Don’t make me walk when I can jump”. Kids over three years can join in, although you have to be careful that heavier kids don’t accidentally knock them off their feet.
Jumping Time is a franchise from Spain, but the concept is widely known in the US and Canada. It’s mainly geared toward children and teenagers, but you can feel free to jump into the mix (pun intended!). The manager mentioned that adults (without kids) usually come earlier in the day to exercise. Wear comfortable cloths and rent the neon yellow anti-slip socks. You can bring your own socks, but you’ll notice that you have less control.
At first jumping up and down is a sensation that catapults you back into your childhood. The kids got the hang of it, way before we the adults felt free enough to jump from one trampoline onto the other. It isn’t as easy as kids make it seem, but it is sure fun! The venue also has a foam pit that’s perfect to practice your somersaults and flips. “Look mom, did you see my Superman move?” Spectators can take photos through the glass windows around the trampoline area and there are seats available too. You can’t buy beverages or snacks there, but the food court is around the corner. Try to avoid the afternoons in the weekend. It gets really packed, there’s less space per person and it’s much noisier! Ask for the birthday party packages for 10 people or more, which include snacks, fresh drinks and three hours of jumping time!
[Jumping Time is located in the Galerias mall on the second floor. Opening hours: daily from 11 a.m. – 8 p.m. No reservations required. Prices: 30 minutes, $80; one hour, $149; two hours, $189; all day pass $300. Anti-slip socks $35 per pair.]
Vamos con los Venados! – Baseball in Mazatlan
Do you like to watch a baseball match on television? Or are you ready for real baseball game in Mazatlan? Mazatlan is home to the Venados ( deer) baseball team founded in the 1940s. They’re the proud winners of the Mexican Pacific League Championship 2016, as well as champions of the Caribbean Series 2016. The Venados play in the Teodoro Mariscal Stadium which holds over 10,000 fans.
Sports bring people together and at a Venados game you experience a sense of unity whether you were born in Mazatlan or north of the border. A wonderful mix of fans attend the game, from families with grandparents and newborns, to love birds on their afternoon date, to die-hard fans with a rattle and Pacifico beer in hand. And you’ll find yourself quickly at home.
The ticket prices vary from the more expensive numbered seats in the central area, to the inexpensive bleacher seats on the side (‘lateral’). I must say there’s more flavor to the game if you sit with the regular folks. Kids love to devour any and every snack that’s available, from the grilled Mexican sausages with lime juice and hot sauce, to ‘corn-in-a-cup’ esquites, to popcorn and Tostitos chips. Fresh drinks and beer vendors walk around to get you anything you want. Don’t miss out and try the local Pacifico beer!
Noisy and boisterous are the perfect words to sum up a baseball game in Mexico. It’s more about the fiesta than it is about the match. There’s a live banda music group playing, while the speaker is talking, whilst you watch the screen zooming in on the audience. There’s definitely never a dull moment. It’s fun to cheer with Venny, the team’s mascot. You’ll be laughing at his crazy tricks. During the innings, goodies are thrown into the audience which always gets the younger fans excited. Surprisingly, most people seem to arrive late to the game, but hey – it’s about supporting the team and who’s cares what time it is? Vamos Venados!!![Venados de Mazatlan: It’s located between Avenida Insurgentes and Reforma near Bosque de la Ciudad and the Acuario https://www.venados.com]
“Buckle up and fly” – ziplines in Mazatlan[please check all prices listed on their website below].
Isn’t it every child dream to be able to fly? Soaring over tree-tops, feeling the wind blowing through your hair? Free as a bird with a splash of adrenaline. Does this sound like your kind of fun, then keep reading! Close to Mazatlan where the Sierra Madre Occidental and coastal Pacific plains meet, you can find slopes and hills covered with tropical deciduous forest intertwined with rivers. It is the perfect setting for outdoor activities like zip-lining. There are two zipline tours around Mazatlan: Huana Coa close to La Noria and Veraneando in Veranos, close to El Recodo.
The excitement starts from the moment you arrive to the location. There is plenty of space for kids to run around and explore the property. Once the whole group is complete, the staff takes plenty of time to explain the rules of the game. This is especially important for those boisterous boys and girls who get distracted easily. No kiddie talking here: if you misbehave or act dangerously you’ll be walking back instead of take the aerial route! Then it’s time to buckle up and get into gear with a harness (no touching of any buckles!), helmet and gloves. At the first launch pad you get another briefing on how to glide safely and then it’s time to fly. A few butterflies in everybody’s stomach, which quickly dissipate…. Woohoo what a view!!! The smiles on everybody’s faces become bigger and bigger as you glide through the beautiful landscape. When back at ground level, you left with a healthy appetite and taste for another ride! [recommend closed-toed shoes, long pants, or long shorts, sunscreen, mosquito repellent…]
Huana Coa zipline tour:
The Huanacoa zipline tour is tons of fun for daredevils of all ages and nationalities. Guides speak good English and give instructions in Spanish as well as English. . The tour includes bottled water, a light snack and a visit to the Los Osuna tequila distillery. The minimum age is 4 years. Young kids can be accompanied by guides on each line to make them feel more comfortable, but they can ride on their own too. You will glide down 9 lines with some serious excitement at the end. They save the best for last (won’t spoil the surprise ending!.)
The pick-up is at 9 a.m. at Hotel Don Pelayo on the Malecon. They can pick you from your hotel too. To book seats you have to call at least 24 hours ahead. Usually they don’t fill up, unless there’s a cruise ship in port. So make sure to contact them a few days earlier. Don’t worry about deposits: you can pay in full upon arrival to the venue. They accept cash (pesos) or credit card (VISA/MasterCard). They also offer ATV tours for guests over 16 years.
To drive to Huanacoa, take the free-way to Culiacan and turn right at El Habal towards La Noria. After about 30 minutes you will see the Huanacoa sign on your right hand.
Veraneando Adventure zipline tour:
[please check all prices on their website listed below].
At Veraneando Adventure zipline tour you’ll splash into the excitement. This tour is close to El Recodo, hometown of the famous music group Banda El Recodo. There are 12 lines on this tour and it also includes transportation, three drinks, lunch and a visit to the local tequila factory.
When making a reservation, let the staff know where you want to be picked up. They usually pass by a local bakery to pick up tasty empanadas (stuffed bread rolls). You don’t have to pay a deposit when making a booking and you can pay in full upon arrival with US dollars, pesos or credit card (VISA/Mastercard). They also offer a river-ride tour and Mexican steam lodge (temazcal) tour.
It takes about 1 hour and 20 minutes to drive to Veraneando. You take the highway towards airport and Villa Union and turn left towards El Recodo. Follow this scenic route, pass El Recodo and you will see Veraneando Adventure signaled.
General information – please check all prices on their website
Huana Coa: www.huanacoacanopy.com/en.
Land line: (669) 990 110 001
Cell phone: 669 147 0604
Veraneando Adventure: www.veraneandoadventure.com/
Land line (669) 988 0425 or 988 1414
Out of the sun
Believe it or not, snowbirds or winter visitors – for a full-time resident of Mazatlan like myself there is such a thing as too much sun. When the sun is too sunny and the beach is too sandy and you just want to chill (literally) indoors. When the thermometer is sky-high and the humidity is making your glasses fog, it’s good to have fun indoor options.
Going to the movies is a big social happening in Mexico. Most movie theaters are inside a mall, so it’s a great (and fresh) way to spend your afternoon and meet up with friends. It’s really inexpensive to go the movies too, with prices ranging from 40 pesos at early functions (before 4 p.m.) to $70 pesos for 3D functions. A combo with popcorn and two fresh drinks costs about $150 pesos but you can also find nachos, candies, coffee and crepes. Make sure to check if the movie you’re booking is in English (it will say: SUB = subtitled or Ingles = English) or in Spanish (it will say: ESP = español). You can check movie schedules on their websites: select the city and movie theater you want visit.
There are two big cinemas close to the Golden Zone. The Cinepolis movie theater is in the Gran Plaza mall, Plaza Acaya and Santa Rosa. The Cinemex movie theater is in the Galerias mall. Cinepolis – www.cinepolis.com, Cinemex: www.cinemex.com.
Wonders under water – Mazatlan’s aquarium
The sea plays a very important role in Mazatlan’s economy and culture. Many people enjoy the beaches and activities in and on the water, but how much do you really know about what’s swimming in the sea around Mazatlan? This specific stretch of Pacific Ocean is also known as the Gulf of California or Mar de Cortéz in Spanish. It’s the breeding ground for several whale species and wide range of endemic creatures. Mazatlan’s aquarium is geared towards protecting and creating awareness for this specific ecosystem. It boasts the largest saltwater tank in Latin America.
Visiting the Acuario Mazatlan is a half-day trip for the whole family. There are small aquariums at the entrance (“Look mom, I saw a Nemo fish!”) and a complete whale skeleton. There are demonstrations in several parts of the park at certain hours. Make sure to arrive five minutes before scheduled show times so the kids can have a front row seat and a good view. Favorites are the sea lion shows and the birds of prey. The audience is encouraged to interact, so you can get a kiss from a sea lion or have a falcon pose on your arm. The Sea of Cortez tank is at the far end of the park and allows you to see what’s under the sea.
Acuario Mazatlan: 981 7816, www.acuariomazatlan.com. Adult premium ticket $145 which gives you entrance to all animal shows, children $105, adult “normal” ticket, $115.
A day at the beach – but which one?
Going to the beach never gets boring. Building sandcastles is fun for smaller kids but any self-respecting kid won’t brag about that on the playground. You have to come home from your holidays in Mazatlan with bold, brave and daring stories. Hello surfing, bodyboarding and SUP-ing to meet all the above requisites. Mazatlan is a huge surfing hub. Any given day you will see youngsters and young-at-heart in the ocean trying to catch the best waves. From Olas Altas beach in downtown Mazatlan to Cerritos beach in the north, there are tons of great spots to catch a wave and soak up some sun.
Find your favorite beach in Mazatlan
Along Mazatlan’s 13 mile-long coast line you can find different beaches, each with respective name and regulars. From south to north, here are the highlights. Across the harbor canal you can find Stone Island (Isla de la Piedra). Contrary to its name, it is not an island but rather a peninsula. Many hotels offer a tour to Isla de la Piedra but I would rather suggest you save the money and go there on your own. Take the green ‘Sabalo-Centro’ bus (only $11 pesos per person) that drives from Riu Emerald Bay all the way through the Golden Zone to downtown harbor. Get down in the harbor and ask the driver to point you to the ‘embarcadero’ or pier for Isla de la Piedra. Tickets cost only $50 pesos for round-trip. The beach at Isla de la Piedra is calm and perfect for smaller children.
At the beginning of the Mazatlan boardwalk (a.k.a. Malécon) you can find Olas Altas beach. This crescent-shaped cove beach ‘moves’ due to seasonal currents. In winter time you can enjoy the sand in front of Hotel Freeman and in summer time you’ll soak up the sun in front of Hotel La Siesta. It’s an intimate beach, but you have to be careful with the currents.
Further north you can find Playa Pinitos, which is visited by local families during weekends or surfers whenever the waves are high. This small beach is shallow but has a rocky underground which makes swimming unpleasant; but you can find great coconuts and coconut water for sale at either side of this beach.
The stretch of beach from the fishermen boats until the Fisherman Monument is called Playa Norte. This particular area is used daily for recreational swimming (6 a.m. -9 a.m). The local swimming club is called Natacion Playa Norte (https://www.facebook.com/Natacion-Playa-Norte-311587828764/) that has showers, swimming classes and competitions for members. The beach along the boardwalk further north has treacherous currents and you must take precautions.
Another famous beach is Pueblo Bonito beach, which is next to the hotel Pueblo Bonito Mazatlan. This beach is particularly shallow and used mostly by fledgling surfers. The most northern beach of Mazatlan, Cerritos beach, is perfect for skilled surfers but should best be avoided for swimming due to its dangerous currents. However, this wide stretch of beach is perfect for walking, flying kites or a fun game of volleyball or soccer.
Isn’t it secretly anyone’s dream to dominate the waves and be one with the ocean? However, if you weren’t born by the sea and don’t have a clue about surfing, taking a few classes isn’t a bad idea. You can find several surf schools in Mazatlán, but not all teachers work with smaller kids or beginners.
Quicksilver surf school
The Quicksilver surf school is a sure bet for many locals who want their kids to safely learn how to surf. The owner Javier Diaz is 100% dedicated to giving surf classes. You can find him daily at the beach next to Pueblo Bonito Mazatlán where he has his ‘office’ (wouldn’t we all want to have such a view!). Classes are available at 8 a.m., 10.30 a.m. 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. You have to book beforehand and pay a deposit. The class includes the surfboard, wax, water, surf shirt, sunscreen and instructions.
Javier always starts the class with some theory about the board and waves so you understand the surf terms. You learn how to stand up on a board, on dry land just to practice. There’s some stretching and warming up too. Javier is very thorough about safety in the sea. Then it’s time to dive in. Javier teaches you how to paddle on the board with your hands and how to dive under waves. Since there are only one or two people per class you get lots of attention. Catching a wave is the most difficult, but Javier makes sure that you’re on the wave at the right time. Time flies by as you become more confident and eventually…. you’re standing on the board like a pro (well, almost!).
Quicksilver Surf school: 6691209073, Facebook: Escuela de Surf QuickSilver Owm.
Aqua Sport Center
Aqua Sport Center is a tradition when it comes to water sports. This family-owned business has been around since 1985 and continues to offer different aquatic activities like jet ski, snorkeling, diving, surf, water ski, sport fishing and sail boat rentals. Isaac Salazar and the rest of his team make sure that you have the best time at the beautiful beach in front of El Cid Castilla where they have their office. To access their venue you enter through the parking lot of Alawa restaurant on the left of El Cid Castilla.
Surf classes are available for children over six years, which include instructions and the surfboard. You have to bring your own rash guard and sun screen to avoid a sunburn. Classes are available daily at 8 a.m. and take two to three hours. Make sure you book beforehand. Sometimes surf classes have to be suspended because of the weather conditions (high waves, strong tides). You can also rent body boards for kids over six years. It’s important to note that they have to know how to swim.
Another fun activity for smaller kids is spending a day at Deer Island. Aqua Sport Center brings you across with a small boat and you can bring your own snacks and drinks. The waters in front of Deer Island are really calm, so it’s perfect to float around in these shallow waters. You can rent snorkel gear or paddle boards as well.[there are bathrooms on the island.] Paddle boarding is suitable for teenagers or adults, because of the size of the equipment. But smaller kids can sit at the front of the board while the adult paddles.
Aqua Sport Center: 913 0451, cellphone 669 1010462, http://www.aquasportscenter.com. Please call or write for current prices. You can pay in cash or with credit card (VISA/MasterCard).
Hit the trails – biking and hiking in Mazatlan
Think biking and hiking, think trails with lush vegetation…. Think Mazatlan?!? It might not be the first thing that comes to mind when talking about this beach-oriented destination. However, there are many routes that are fun to walk or cycle and they’re right around the corner.
Mazatlan’s lighthouse, El Faro
[Important update, March 2019 – $5 for the “glass walkway”,there is no water “at the top”, therefore there are not bathrooms – but there are porta-poties as the start of the climb.]
It’s the word on the street: “Have you climbed the new lighthouse yet?” Newly renovated with a glass lookout, it’s all of a sudden the place to be. Go with friends or alone, early morning or at sunset and make sure that you’ve been there, done that!
The lighthouse has been a popular spot for visitors to get a view on the city and for locals to lose a few calories. Now embellished with a ‘Faro Mazatlan’ sign below, the 150-meter high hilltop received a full overhaul that took about nine months. The trail, which is the lower part of the hill, has been leveled with gravel making it an easier walk than previously. Hopefully the tropical rains won’t wreak havoc upon this newly finished job. They’ve added small squares with seating on the way up, so you can rest and enjoy the view. The 300 steps, which is the upper part of the hill, have also been improved with new concrete. But beware that these stairs still aren’t 100% even, so watch your step! Once you’ve arrived to the top, make sure to hydrate first and look for some shade. If you’re lucky, you can walk straight to the glass look-out which is behind the lighthouse building without waiting. The lookout is open from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m. when surveillance is present. A recent dare-devil scoffed the security guards, climbing underneath the lookout structure to hang a hammock above the abyss. Since then the safety measures have been tightened to avoid any accidents. Few people at a time are allowed onto the glass structure and you have to take your shoes off or put shoe covers which are available for free. You get approximately 5 minutes to enjoy the view and take photos, unless there isn’t anybody waiting in line. All free!
The best way to conquer the lighthouse is to wear comfortable cloths, a hat and closed shoes (although I saw many people with flip-flops). Don’t forget sunscreen and plenty of water or electrolytes. In summertime (May through November) avoid the hottest time of the day between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. It’s a fun outing for all ages and a must-do in Mazatlan!
[The lighthouse is open from sunrise to sunset. How to get there: you can take a taxi to the entrance of the lighthouse or take the green “Sabalo-Centro” bus until the end of the route (south-end). From there it’s a short 5-minute walk to the foothill of El Faro]
All the information below is still correct:
Where in Mazatlan do you have a 360° view and can you see 12 miles north and south? It’s not the newest condo building in town, but a natural reserve that few know about. The lighthouse or ‘Faro’ is home to many animal and plant species and is located on the far south point of Mazatlan. Named the world’s second highest natural lighthouse, its altitude is 154 meters or 490 feet.
The Mazatlan lighthouse is located on an impressive rock formation called the Creston Hill. From far away you can appreciate its steep cliffs and triangular shape. The Creston hill boasts several deep caves, which are nearly impossible to approach because of the treacherous currents. There are several interesting legends about the lighthouse caves. Some tall tales indicate invaluable treasures have been hidden by famous pirates like the British Thomas Cavendish and the blond Dutch Spilbergen inside. They roamed the Pacific to plunder the loaded ‘Naos’ from the Philippines.
Climbing or ‘conquering’ the lighthouse is a great adventure for all ages. I’ve been taking my children since there they were five years old. You will have an easy start with a slightly sloped sand path. You will meet both exercising Mazatlecans and tourists along the way. About halfway, the sand path leads into stairs. You will see lizards, many birds, butterflies as well as cactus and tropical trees. Even two stray cats roam the lighthouse stairs, where they are fed daily by locals. Once you’ve reached the top of the hill, you will be amazed by the view. It makes the effort worthwhile!
Are you excited to give it a try? Here is how to get there. You can take the ‘Sabalo-Centro’ air-conditioned bus that drives from the Golden Zone all the way to the foot of the lighthouse. You can also take a taxi and ask the driver for ‘El Faro’. I would advise to arrive early in the morning or late in the afternoon to avoid the heat. Make sure to bring a camera, closed shoes, a hat, sunscreen and lots of water. You will have the best family time and the most amazing photos!
Estero del Yugo
At the far northern point of Mazatlan you can find another hidden ecological gem: Estero del Yugo. It’s behind the Mazagua water park and across the street from hotel Riu Emerald Bay. This small wetland reserve (27 acres/11 hectares) is perfect to watch lagoon and forest birds and offers a great walking route for the whole family.
The entrance to Estero del Yugo is through the CIAD research institute. The trails are marked and lead you along the rim of the estuary until reaching the cliffs with an amazing view on the northern beach. This dry tropical deciduous forest changes its colors depending on the season. In rainy season (May through October) the trees are lush and green, but in dry season (November through April) the leaves gradually fall. Estero del Yugo also offers ecological education to thousands of school children every year, as well as a bird-watching events. The maintenance of this area is done by local volunteers and the CIAD research institute.
It’s great fun to walk at Estero del Yugo. Kids love it, because it’s a quest ‘into the wild’. They’ll certainly spot the herons, humming birds and noisy chachalacas: “Mom I think I even saw an eagle!” The trails are narrow; there is a bird-watching hut and a view tower. At certain points you have to walk over wooden boardwalks with little creeks beneath, which makes it even more exciting. Make sure to bring closed shoes, a hat and water. There are mosquitos so bring some repellent along too, as well as sunscreen.
The entrance to Estero del Yugo is just north of the intersection Avenida Sabalo-Cerritos and Carretera Habal-Cerritos. You can take the ‘Sabalo-Centro’ bus and get out at Riu, which is the last stop. You can access Estero del Yugo daily through the gates of CIAD. The cost is $50 pesos which is used for maintenance of the trails. You receive a free map of the area. If you want a guided tour, you can contact Eunice Murua at CIAD. She is available on weekdays from 9 a.m. to 4p.m. The guided tours cost $150 pesos per adult and take around two hours. Children won’t be charged for guided tours.
Estero del Yugo: contact person Eunice Murua – 989 8700 ext 260 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
A Mazatlecan at heart I am a self-declared inhabitant of the city’s boardwalk or ‘Malecon’. There are many ways you can enjoy the Malecon: walking, skating, running, cycling or bring your chair to catch the perfect sunset. This seafront walkway is perfect for biking [new rules, bikes are on the street side] and gives you 13 miles of unobstructed views of the Pacific Ocean. If you want to enjoy the Malecon and downtown Mazatlan with your family it’s great to rent bikes for half-day or whole day. I recommend Baikas Rental that has two locations: one at Hotel Belmar at Olas Altas in downtown Centro and the other at Hotel Don Pelayo at the other end of the Malecon. You can enjoy cold coconut water at the stands along the way or venture into the historical center and discover the alleys with amazing architecture.
If you’re looking for serious excitement on wheels, you can book a mountain bike tour with local expert Fernando Kelly, owner of Kelly’s Bicycle Shop. He offers tours for experienced riders as well as newbies, along Mazatlan’s many one-trail tracks. He is famous for single-handedly carving his way through the forest, creating new trails. Fernando speaks fluent English. The minimum age for the mountain bike tours is 12 years and it includes the bike, a helmet, water or Gatorade and energy bars. The tour takes about 1 ½ hours depending of the fitness of the participants. It’s advisable to do the tour early in the morning to avoid the heat and humidity. Wear cycling shorts, a tight fitting shirt and tennis shoes, as well as sunscreen and mosquito repellent.
Splashin’ fun – water parks in Mazatlan
The best way to keep your kids happy is in the water, no matter if it’s 35°C or 20°C. For mermaids and tritons there is no such thing as too much beach or pool time: “Can’t we stay another five minutes, PLEASE!!!!” Mazatlan has plenty of beaches to get your share of splashing fun, but only few are appropriate for kids to swim safely. Going to a water park is an appealing alternative for young and old.
[Updated June 2018]
Aloha to Alfiland – splish splashing fun in Mazatlan
Blessed with a tropical climate, Mazatlan is the perfect city to spend a day (or two, or three) at the beach. But when you’re looking for a change of scenery, visit one of the local water parks. An all-time favorite is Mazagua water park (http://www.mazagua.com/) close to Riu Emerald Bay. In March 2018 a new water park Alfiland opened its doors. It isn’t as close to the hotel zone, but still worth a visit.
The best way to get to Alfiland park is by car or taxi. Take the road to the airport and about 10 minutes outside of the city (just outside the town El Castillo) you will see a large Alfiland sign as well as the unmistakable super slides. There is a large parking lot with a guard indicating where you should park. Parking is free of charge.
Alfiland has a Hawaiian theme; you can find fun references throughout the park. Find the restrooms as Tikitos and Tikitas as a word play on ‘chiquitos’ and ‘chiquitas’ (meaning small in Spanish). There are lots of ‘palapa’ umbrellas with tables and chairs to catch some shadow. However it’s better to arrive early and choose your perfect spot.
The park has lots of options for every age, whether you’ve got teens or tots. Little ones will love the park’s kiddie play area with medium-size slides and getting soaked by a giant Kona head tipping bucket. Brave mermaids or tritons can head to the five super slides or jump the waves at the wave pool. There are plenty of park guards, giving instructions to make sure that everybody enjoys the rides safely. You have to be taller than 1.20 meter or 5 feet to enjoy the super slides. We loved the four-line parallel slide where you can race each other on foam mats. The purple-and-white slide ends in a tornado-cone: a crazy experience to fall down the ‘rabbit hole’. Some slides aren’t as fast when you’re wearing a rash guard, but there are some rough edges so it will protect you.
Getting hungry after all the excitement? Don’t worry: you can buy freshly made shrimp or fish ceviches ($30-45 per tostada, $120-180 per liter), scallops ($250) or boiled snack shrimp ($130), as well as tacos suaves ($25 each) with several fillings: chicharron, refried beans, marlin fish. There’s a small booth selling soda, beer, potato chips, cookies, etc, so you’ll certainly not go hungry or thirsty. However you allowed to bring your own food and non-alcoholic beverages if you want. There is a large covered rooftop barbecue area that overlooks the pools. So while you’re grilling your steak and enjoying a drink, you can keep an eye on the splashing fun.
The good, the bad and the ugly
The test team (aka my family) had several comments about Alfiland. To start with the positive feedback: the park is very clean and spacious. It wasn’t packed with people even though we went on Sunday which tends to be the busiest day. The prices of the food stands in the park were very reasonable and comparable to small eateries in town. We didn’t try anything, but all the food is prepared at the moment. The play area for smaller kids is well set up and exciting for kids until about 8 years.
For the teenager the slides weren’t as thrilling as the ones at Mazagua park. A local friend told us that Mazagua used to be small like Alfiland, so hopefully new (and faster) slides will be added in the future.
While trying the five different super-slides several of our group scratched our backs pretty badly. It wasn’t clear when or where it happened, but certainly a point of improvement for the park’s management. My suggestion would be to always wear a rash guard to avoid any injury.
[Alfiland park is open from Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. To check the new pricing: call 669-244 9655 or contact them on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Alfiland/]
This is Mazatlan’s only official water park and it’s a must-go if you have kids. There are plenty of pools for smaller and bigger kids, super-exciting slides and picnic areas with tables and umbrellas. The entrée fee is the same for adults and kids and gives you unlimited access to the whole park. Compared to water parks in other Mexican destinations it’s almost ten times cheaper, so it’s a real bargain!
Let out your inner child at Mazagua. The toddler pool has tons of hideaways and small slides with knee high water level. For the older kids and adults there is a wave pool, water zip line and six different slides with exciting names like Mamut and Grand Prix. The Grand Prix slide has several lines so you can have a speed race. Insider information: the heavier you are, the more likely you are to win! “Hey dad you won again, that not fair… Let’s try again (and again and again)!”
You have to rent a floaty ring in order to use some slides. These are available next to the entrance: you pay 70 pesos for a single or double floaty ring and you also need to leave an ID. The park opens at 10 a.m. but most slides aren’t functioning until noon. There is staff available at every slide to guide you. Don’t feel like you should stay on dry land because you’re an adult. These slides are just as much fun for 8-year olds as well as 38-years old (or 58-year old!). If you rent a two-person floaty ring it’s easier to keep an eye on your smaller (under 10 years) child. You’ll do the slides together, shouting and laughing, making great memories: “Mom you were screaming louder than me!”
Mazagua waterpark is on the northern side of Mazatlan, on the intersection of Avenida Sabalo-Cerritos going towards Pueblo Bonito Emerald Bay. It’s easily recognizable: you will see the huge slides from far away. Bring your bathing suit, hat, sunscreen, slippers, surf shirt to avoid sun burn and towel. There are changing rooms, showers and toilets, as well as lockers. Snack food is for sale at the park, but you are allowed to bring your own food.
Mazagua: 669 988 0041 or www.mazagua.com. Opening hours 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. The park is open from March through December. The park is closed in January and February for maintenance.[Nationals do find this time of the year very cold for water sports.]
Carpa Olivera sea pool
The Carpa Olivera was originally built in 1915. It was inspired by sea pools in Europe, and previously there was a restaurant above the pool which was popular for social gatherings. In 1954 it was devastated by a hurricane, leaving it in abandonment. In 2014 the local municipality proposed to clean and return this pool, fed by tidal water, to its former splendor. They added a new playful element: a spiral slide. It might not look like much, but its jet propulsion gives you serious speed making it fun for everybody. The slide’s pump isn’t always turned on, so you’ll have to ask the lifeguard to switch it on.
The Carpa Olivera continues to be a meeting point for locals and visitors. Especially during weekends you’ll see whole families spending the day. Kids love to get splashed by the waves rolling into the pool, while adults can soak up the sun on the rim. Locals come to swim laps every day. I would advise an adult to accompany children under 10 years in the pool. There is a small restaurant that sells coconuts, drinks and light snacks. There are toilets and a shower to rinse off the salt water. You can enjoy this wonderful sea pool free of charge every day. There is a lifeguard on duty from 10 a.m. through 6 p.m. Occasionally when the tides are very high, you might not be allowed to enter for your own safety. Just spend some time at the nearby Olas Altas beach and come back when the tide has gone down.
Interactive Oasis – water play park
This small water play park is an excellent option for children that are too small to swim. It’s located across the street from the Fisherman’s Monument on the Malecon, close to Playa Norte. Created in 2012 by the local municipality it has different water fountains and colored lights in the night. It’s amazing how easily new friendships are made here: everybody huddles together under the tipping bucket to get splashed, no matter if you speak English or Español.
Fun fact: only kids from three to thirteen are allowed to enter, while the parents have stay on the side. There is a guard on call from Monday through Sunday from noon until 7 p.m. On Tuesdays the park opens later, because of weekly maintenance. There is also a regular park on the side as well as a snack store. The entrance is free!
The great outdoors – time to think outside the electronic box!
Hit it, kick it, roll it, steer it: the best remedy for couch potatoes and electronic addicts. It might seem that kids nowadays can’t think of anything else, but hey: let’s think outside, no box required!
Kilometro Cero – skate park
This realm for the reckless is located between the city park (Bosque de la Ciudad) and the baseball stadium. Kilométro Cero Skate Park was created by Mazatlan’s municipality in 2012 and it has a bowl and street plaza elements. The bowl is peanut-shaped and perfect for more experienced skaters. You don’t get off your board and it allows you to skate back and forth as well as across. The street plaza has obstacles, as you would find anywhere: stairs, railing and benches. There are even two half-pipes of three meters and two meters. Now, don’t feel like you have to be a pro to attend this park. There are beginner slopes as well and plenty of space to just skate around. This park is free of charge and open all day, but most skaters arrive between 5.30 p.m. – 8 p.m. If you don’t have a skateboard, you can borrow one. Ask for Juan or Sergio who speak some English. The area is well lit and there are toilets as well as a soccer field as well as two tennis courts.
Kilómetro Cero: address Av. Reforma and Justo Sierra, Mazatlan Skate fan page: https://www.facebook.com/revolucionmazatlan2016/.
Pacific Golf Center – Golf academy
The Pacific Golf Center is great for those who want to keep the golf swing in shape while in Mexico. It is a nice facility that’s fun for everyone. You can rent a bucket of 100 golf balls for only 100 pesos, golf equipment included. They also offer classes for adults and kids older than 6 years. The classes go for four hours and include techniques and physical training. You’re encouraged to get involved or instead you can stay in the lounge area. There is a discount if you book more classes. They have a Frequent-Customer card: for $500 pesos you receive 20 buckets with 100 balls. There’s an indoor playground for smaller kids from two to seven years. This will be opened at the beginning of December 2016.
Pacific Golf Center – Av. Carlos Canseco 5991. Reservations through contact person Lorena: 669 114 4556. The opening hours are from noon until 10 p.m. Golf classes cost $250 pesos per person for four hours.