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Destinations To Die For: Mazatlan, Mexico

Land of the Deer | March


Richard Cummins/Corbis

Mazatlan's protected harbor is home to a large charter fleet.

I was sitting on the foredeck of the trimaran as we passed Isla Tortuga (Turtle Island) and spied the sunbathing California sea lions that make an annual pilgrimage down Mexico way. It was March, the sky was blue, the seas were calm, and I was crossing Mazatlan Bay on my way for some ocean kayaking off Deer Island (Mazatlan translates to land of the deer). It was springtime south of the border, and it was damn near perfect.

In fact, nearly every day during my last visit here mirrored the one I've just described. But naturally the one day I decided to do a little marlin fishing, seas made for sloppy four-footers. Hey, stuff happens. That said, the fishing was solid, and my group managed several large dorado and a striped marlin for a half-day's effort.

Fishing is just one of many on-the-water activities you can enjoy here, whether you decide to cruise down the West Coast or fly into this Pacific oasis. In addition to the stellar ocean kayaking, you can also try your hand at snorkeling or even a high-speed banana ride. I did, and it's worth getting thrown off at 30 mph.



Sunsets, sand...serenity.

For those into underwater exploration, be sure to visit Las Tres Isla, where you can dive from a boat or the shore and take in the local marine life. There are sunken ships, too.

I spent my time at the El Cid resort, home to one of two major marinas in the area; it can accommodate vessels up to 120 feet. Daily slip rates range from $30 to $150 depending on LOA, and monthly rates run from $11 to $16 per foot plus tax. While several boats in the marina were of the wind-powered variety, I saw a fair number of California-based trawlers and motoryachts. And they were there at an exceptional time of year, with average daily temperatures hovering right around 80F.

One of the great things about El Cid is the water-taxi ride from the marina to its private beach. And I mean private. I spent about four hours there one day and saw only two other people—perfect if you'd like alone time or want to read a book under a thatch umbrella while watching boats come and go from the harbor.

In contrast to the quiet beach, eating out is a festive occasion no matter where you stop. Countless restaurants line the downtown area, which is a few minutes away from the resort via open-air taxi, and all are filled with mariachi players dressed in costumes as colorful as the music. I ate seafood almost every night and often had the tableside-prepared Caesar salad—simply awesome! If you like pork, there's plenty. (But, trust me, stay away from the beef.) The streets are also filled with shops selling Mexican silver, T-shirts, and other typical touristy souvenirs.

In addition to the amazing displays of the for-tips-only cliff divers and endless tours both on and off the water, don't miss the vanilla ice cream. Vanilla is a major export here, and having vanilla ice cream in Mazatlan is almost worth the trip alone. As a matter of fact, the thought of that ice cream is telling me it's time to call my travel agent. Ole!

Destinations to Die For

January: Plymouth Harbor, Dominica
February: The Spanish Virgin Islands
March: Mazatlan, Mexico
April: Man-O-War Cay, Bahamas
May: Southport, North Carolina
June: Greenport, New York
July: New York, New York
August: Penobscot Bay, Maine
September: Block Island, Rhode Island
October: Panama City, Florida
November: Key West, Florida
December: Staniel Cay, Bahamas

This article originally appeared in the December 2007 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.