Is Mazatlan Safe? Does a bear poop in the woods?

News stories can often paint a bad picture when it comes to Mexico, especially when you read headlines about the state of Sinaloa. Being home to one of the biggest cartels in the country can leave many wondering if the city of Mazatlan is safe to visit. After spending some time there recently, I hope that the recent bad reputation doesn’t stop you from visiting such a beautiful city.

What Mazatlan Has to Offer

Mazatlan, like most typical hot spots in Mexico, has beautiful beaches and a vibrant culture. The beaches that line the coast from North to South of the city stretch for miles and have something for everyone. The long malecon (boardwalk) connects the Historic Town to the Golden Zone and makes for an enjoyable bike ride with great views of the coast.

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Unlike most of the smaller towns we’ve visited in Mexico, Mazatlan felt like a real city and the center of town was bustling with locals. In the older parts around the main market is where you’ll find more street food than you’ll be able to try. We saw everything from gorditas to pig heads and of course there are tacos galore. If you’re not sure what to order, start here with our guide to authentic Mexican food.

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Staying Safe

First I’d say, don’t get lost. I know that’s definitely easier said than done but this is a city where you’re best to stay in the tourist areas. Take a look at the city map first and stick to the areas between the Golden Zone, Historic Town and Marina. If you’ve lost your sense of direction, head to the nearest restaurant or convenience store and ask inside for directions to avoid drawing attention to yourself on the streets.

We felt safe walking around at night but if you’re headed from one end of the city to the other, opt for a taxi or a pulmonia (looks like an oversized golf cart). I like to wear jeans, shoes and a hat when I’m walking through the city at night because that’s what I saw the locals wearing and that’s what makes me feel like I’m fitting in better as opposed to instantly being spotted as a tourist.

Why It's Safe

The main reason I felt safe in Mazatlan is because there are police everywhere. You can’t miss them since they’re patrolling up and down the boardwalk in patrol vehicles with lights on. Whether it’s state, federal or military police, you’ll spot someone almost every 5 minutes. They’re on foot, on bikes and in their patrol vehicles to see and be seen all over the city. At no time did we feel threatened or unsafe. And because it’s not a big party town like Cabo or Cancun, you won’t find the street ‘entrepreneurs’ ready to sell you everything you’ll need for your big night out.

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Tourism is one of the most important industries in Mexico and after years of travel warnings and advisories, it’s no wonder the crowds and cruise ships have stopped coming over time. But the city is doing a lot to make sure tourists feel safe in Mazatlan and we have nothing but good things to say after our time there.

Is Mazatlan Safe?

Mazatlan is safe. It isn’t always on the backpacker circuit of Mexico but we think it should be. Is Mazatlan safe like your suburban neighbourhood back home? Maybe not. But these days, if you’re out looking for trouble, you can find it just about anywhere in the world. And despite what you hear, you’d have to look a lot harder in Mazatlan. What you won’t have a hard time finding are beautiful beaches and great food in a welcoming city.

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