Mazatlan’s Popular Snowbird/Expat Residential Areas

Ana posing with Mazatlan word sculpture

A snapshot of the most common residential areas preferred by snowbirds and expats in Mazatlan

When coming to Mazatlan, it’s not surprising that snowbirds and expats return to the same areas of town each year. Decisions on where to live are often based on the proximity to attractions such as the beach and fine dining or in some cases, to how handy medical services are. So Mazatlan is no different from any other popular city when it comes to where to live/stay. Where to live is still one of the most frequently asked questions by newcomers or retirees that are planning on making the “Pearl of the Pacific” their new home. This won’t be a listing of all the liveable areas, just the most popular ones for our demographic.

Mazatlan is more or less divided into four MAIN zones within which several residential areas are located. Starting at the south end and heading north, the zones are as follows: CENTRO, MALECON, GOLDEN ZONE & CERRITOS. Within these zones, you can find the following residential are…


Playa Sur – This is the area closest to the cruise ships and the ferry to Stone Island (Isla de la Piedra) as well as the big ferry that takes you across the Sea of Cortez to La Paz. At one time Playa Sur (South Beach) was just that…a beach! This area consists of many large family homes as well as some modest houses. There are some apartment buildings as well but not many. It is very residential and peaceful.
Centro Historico – The area that encompasses all the historic buildings dating back to the 1800’s. An eclectic mixture of apartments and small historic homes as well as the famous Plazuela Machado / Angela Peralta theatre. Here you will find many fine restaurants and plenty of arts and entertainment. It could be considered the “artsy” part of town!
Olas Altas -This is where the Malecon (boardwalk) actually begins then heads north for 21 km (13 miles) up to Valentino’s. The area starts with stunning views from the residences on top of Ice Box Hill; down along the waterfront’s historic Belmar and La Siesta Hotels; culminating in the lovely large homes on the hills of Cerro del Vigia.Loma Linda / Los Pinos – This area has a lovely beach popular with families on weekends. Beginning on the other side of Ice Box Hill, in this area, you will find plenty of apartments as well as numerous updated historic homes. Zaragoza Street starts here, passing the famous Zaragoza Plaza (home of the weekly “Danzon”, a free public dancing event) and leads you downtown close to the Mercado (public market). Apart from weekends and the week of Carnaval (about Feb each year) when it becomes alive with activity and music (some read this as “noise”), this area of Centro is actually very peaceful and quiet.
El Centro – This is pretty well the “rest” of the downtown area. It contains Mercado Pino Juarez, more retail shops than you can count, medical services, municipal government buildings, family-style restaurants as well as the Cathedral and the only Post Office in Mazatlan. It has many small neighborhoods containing quaint (sometimes “rustic”), historic houses and apartments. This truly is the heart of the city. I live in this area and I swear I can hear it’s pulse! Not for the tranquility seeker, although, having said that, I found many small pockets of peace and quiet, especially when the hubbub of the daytime shoppers dies down for the night. The Mercado also serves as the main hub for city buses.


For the context of this blog, the “Malecon” will be broadly defined as the strip of boardwalk beginning at the Fisherman’s Monument (Avenida Gutierrez Najera) and heading north to Valentino’s (Avenida Rafael Buelna). So the areas I will discuss will be found east of this part of the Malecon. All the areas off the Malecon are in easy walking distance to the beach and the delicious “palapas” (beach restaurants with roofs made from palms).
The Malecon – The Malecon itself is dotted with a mixture of high-end condominium towers along with small to medium sized beach facing hotels. Here is where you will find luxury condos such as Las Gavias, the Paradise Bay Grand or the brand new Torre eMe Condominium tower. The Malecon is where our famous Carnaval Parade takes place each year so having a birdseye view from one of these condos is a bonus!
Estadio / Lopez Mateo – A lovely and interesting mixture of small homes and family businesses. Not many apartments in this area, but if they are, often they are located above a retail store. This is also the home of Mazatlan’s much loved Venados baseball team which plays out of the Estadio Teodoro Mariscal. As at June 2018, the stadium was going through much needed renovations so we hope they will be done for the fall season!Telleria – where the aquarium and city park is located. Mostly mid-size houses and some industrial/government. Quiet, family oriented. Also seems to be an abundance of medical/dental offices here. There are two main roads (besides the Malecon) that can be quite noisy during the day with traffic.
Palos Prietos – This area falls behind the Casino Caliente off the Malecon. A variety of small homes and some more modern style apartments can be found here. There is also a large Ley store (a grocery chain) nearby.
Ferrocarrilera / Reforma – A busy area awash in a multitude of taco and seafood stands. There is also another public market here too called Mercado Juan Carrasco just east of the Fisherman’s Monument. It’s a little smaller than the main Mercado in Centro.


Lomas de Mazatlan – This a beautiful residential area with a nice variety of residences of all sizes and types. It’s located just on the other side of the Golden Zone strip (east of the main road “Ave Camaron Sabalo”). This is a nice quiet area away from the main roads.
Zona Dorada – The main tourist area of Mazatlan where you will find all the large popular hotels such as the Playa Mazatlan (the first hotel built on the beach over 50 years ago and also home to the Mazatlan Comedy Club), the Holiday Inn and Ramada to name a few. When vacationers come to Mazatlan for their 7-10 day holiday, this area is usually where they stay as it has all the amenities a tourist would need. There is a plethora of restaurants, nightclubs, and bars…as well as the best selection of souvenirs in the city. Entertainment at Las Flores Hotel is excellent and also a very popular spot for snowbirds to gather. The “Golden Zone” also has a few short-term condos available. This is a very active area during the winter season so noise is to be expected. If you like a lot of action and entertainment, this is definitely for you. Great beaches!Las Gaviotas / Puerta Dorada – This area between where the Golden Zone ends and before El Cid starts has a bounty of short-term furnished accommodations as well as more hotels. Here is where you will find that little gem of an apartment building that caters to the snowbird each winter. Quiet streets off the main Camaron Sabalo. You can also find some “boutique” hotels here that cater to snowbirds. Lots of beach access.
El Cid – This place will blow you away with its size. There are two sections to El Cid. The main one, El Cid Residencial, is a gated community with over 1200 luxury homes and containing a country club as well as a top of the line golf course. The second section contains the two beachside hotel towers, El Moro Beach and El Cid Castilla which are very popular with the all-inclusive tourists.
Sabalo Country – Continuing with some great hotels (some of which are exclusively timeshares), Sabalo Country is also home to several very popular watering holes and night spots for snowbirds. Restaurants such as La Catrina, Los Zarapes, and Diego’s Beach Bar also double as music venues and showcase top of the line performers during the winter months. Many more cute furnished apartments can be found here too. Definitely a lot quieter than the Golden Zone. Beach access is easy.


Marina area – Just down the street and around the corner from Sabalo Country you will find the start of the marina area where quite often you can spot luxury yachts along with sailboats belonging to snowbirds. Here there is another El Cid property, the El Cid Marina Beach hotel where you can take a ferry that will transport over to the other side of the Marina Mazatlan.
Marina Mazatlan – across the waterway from El Cid Marina it mainly has private condominiums, some of which are rented out. Walmart and Sam’s Club along with a couple of malls are easily accessible by car or bus. Not much for local stores. Very quiet area.
Cerritos – This area runs from the marina all the way north to Cerritos Beach. Along this strip, you will find a fantastic variety of high-end condominiums, townhouses, and luxury homes most of which are privately owned but often rented out. No stores except for Oxxo or Kiosko (Mexico’s version of the 7Elevens). At the furthest end of Cerritos, there is a strip mall that has a popular coffee shop (Looney Bean) as well as a couple of restaurants frequented by the expats and snowbirds and offering evening entertainment. The Cerritos area also has a few RV parks.

If you are looking for a rental, either long or short term, I encourage you to join the Facebook group, “Mazatlan Snowbird Rentals & Housesit” where you can look through the accommodations currently available or place a post listing what you are looking for. 

QUESTION: What’s your favorite area to live in Mazatlan and why? (leave a reply below)

Disclaimer: The above article represents only my view and opinion on the areas based on the seven years I have been in Mazatlan. It is subject to my perspective and is only meant to assist those that are not familiar with Mazatlan and its layout. If any of the information is factually incorrect, please let me know in the comments section below. As always, I welcome your feedback too! ~ Ana ~

Ana Fernandez

Just a potluck gypsy living a colorful life in sunny Mazatlan, Mexico!! Blogger, Web Designer with a some Mexico related side hustles... check them out here: | |

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14 Responses

  1. Vanessa says:

    Hi there!

    Im looking for recommendations on an all inclusive hotel. I was hoping to fine one near a busy neighborhood. I stayed at a resort that was downtown in puerto vallarta and it was great… surrounded by local supermarkets, pharmacies, etc. What area of mazatlan would be similair. We dont want to stay in a hotel that is far from everything.

  2. Moss says:

    Correction to this article… The malecon runs between Monument to Pedro Infante next to the Shiek/Valentinos complex and Monumento a la Familia (Olas altas) just South of Hotel Freeman. The distance is 7 kilometers / 4.3 miles. In fact it’s only 19 km / 11.8 miles from the lighthouse to Cerritos point.

    • Ana Fernandez says:

      Ooops! Guess I shouldn’t have taken the word of the first site that came up on my Google search. Lesson learned! Thanks for the heads up.

  3. Judy says:

    I absolutely LOVE living in my little room in the Hotel La Siesta overlooking the high waves(Olas Altas). I can sit there at any time and the ocean is always moving from quiet little waves to huge thundering waves that is a total joy to all the surf boarders! I have been spending 2 months there every winter for 6 years and I cannot think of any other place that I would rather be! My beautiful little hotel, my family at La Siesta, the delicious Mexican food, the sweet and wonderful people of Mazatlan….are all I really need in my life….honestly!

    • Shirley says:

      Hello – Judy – I love your post – have wondered about the Hotel La Siesta and you have answered my questions – can you say how much it costs (per week or month(s)). Thank you for sharing. Shirley

    • Jeri says:

      Is it difficult to get a room? Is it just beds? How much pet month if you stay yearly? House cleaning? Washing clothes? Anything you can tell me I would appreciate.

    • Marla says:

      i spent about 2 weeks in la Siesta but did not know i could rent longer term. Parking is a problem but love the view. just a room with no kitchenete unless I was unaware of any. Will now call them to check on long term. Dream of Ricos

  4. Marion Dewar says:

    I love living at the Cerrito Resort, great beach, quiet…..amazing bus system to drive to the golden zone and old beautiful part of Mazatlan, yummy restaurants and great dancing lol! Just moved here to Mazatlan from partime to fulltime.

  5. Linda Zimmerman says:

    Loretta Lynn wrote in her book that she and Doolittle camped on the beach and it was miles of white sand with no one around. I had the burning desire to see it after that and have been coming to Maz for 26 years now. I live in Costa Bonita and love all of the resorts developed by Costa Bonita Corporation best. I keep quite busy with managing condo rentals.

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