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By: Zdenko Kahlina
Great beach day gateway from the city!
When in Mazatlan, you should not miss this trip. But do not take expensive tour offered by many Tour companies. It just isn’t necessary! You can easily do it on your own. Simply get to the ‘Embarcadero’ by foot or taxi. Don’t forget beach towels and swimming suits!
How to get there
Once you figure out where is the place from which the water taxi goes across to the island, you’re almost there. The water taxi runs every day until midnight. In our case, we walked from our B&B in Olas Altas area through the ‘Centro Historico’, to the local water taxi service up the road in the Old Mazatlan harbor district. From the Plaza Marchado, the historic and artistic center of Mazatlan, we followed blue line painted on the street, which is there purposely, to help tourists find their way back to the cruze ship. At the most south corner of Avenue Emilio Barragan, we turned towards the ocean and there was a blueish shack with a small dock, where they were selling water taxi tickets. Someone told me this place is called ‘Embarcadero Playa Sur’. This is where they setup small pangas to serve as water taxis across the channel to the Stone Island.
The fare to cross over on this water taxi was $30 pesos round drip. We were warned to keep the tickets for the return trip as we would have to show them again. The boat ride across the channel lasted only about 5 minutes.
On the Stone Island
On the other side, from the landing area we walked up few steps to the dirt road, and across the road. There is a very short path to the beach. The beach and restaurants will stretch out in front of you. Here you can take an open air transport ride (benches in the back of a pick up vehicle) for another $50 pesos, but there is no real need to do this. The Main beach area with restaurant amenities is on a very short distance and you can easily spot it.
We walked on the sandy beach for a while playing with our bare feet and toes in the sand. The beach vendors were pushing their food carts on bicycles, the waiters were waving and inviting us to stop at their restaurant and that scenery was all so wonderful. We finally sat down at the Molokay restaurant, where they were allowing us to reserve a table, chairs and loungers, while we went for a swim. The ocean was inviting and soooo warm, it was unbelievable.
The island is mostly vacant–you can walk 14 kilometers up an empty beach lined with coconut palms. Skinny dip, but nude tanning might get inspected by farmers driving by on tractors. The near end of the beach is a cluster of thatch ‘palapa’ restaurants. To give you the idea, most of them have hammocks so you can have a beer lying down. The best is probably ‘Victor’s’ down at the end–great fish and a beautiful garden. You can rent inner tubes, take ‘banana boat rides’, rent horses, play volleyball, para-ski–or just sort of mellow out in that hammock, or walk up the beach and get away from the craziness and just be by yourself on an empty beach. The official tour is on catamarans, and lunch and a few margaritas are thrown in.
Latter we had a nice meal at Molokay restaurant – fish of the day, grilled, drinks, bears, nachos, shrimp, quesadillas, and sat there for most of the day in the shade. The cost including the drinks and a meal was about $150 pesos per person ($12 CAD). Local services on the beach included the usual souvenir hawkers, food vendors, and various sports, including horseback riding and ATV rentals that ran $450 pesos/hour.
With nothing but coconut trees, beaches and open-air restaurants for 14 km, this is the place where the locals go to relax. We didn’t see many gringo tourists…
Many of the typical beach activities can be found here, but one of the newest attractions is the Botanical Garden. The botanical gardens are the first phase of a huge planned development called Amaitlan. We went past the Carmelita’s and Lety’s a ways and cross inland through the restaurants. It is off the beach a couple of blocks and is not advertised very well, so you may have to ask around to find it. It was well worth visiting, except it was infected with many small unvisable mosquitos. So be aware…
When we visited it was open and we walked through unmolested, but there may be a fee at other times so be prepared. Just find a path that takes you into the garden and wander around. This development may or may not come to pass as big ideas like this can be tough to turn into reality, but at least this first part, the botanical garden, is looking good and is being maintained and improved. The grounds are beautiful and it will be nice to see it during the various seasons.
The beach was expansive and sparsely populated affording a nice run for either horses or ATV vehicles. The waves were very gentle. The surrounding area included a coconut plantation for exploring on the ATV or with horseback. When we wrapped out the beach excursion, we were able to get back to our restaurant because they kept our chairs reserved all the time.
The weekends are much busier and it can get crowded. If you are eating at a particular restaurant you may use their lounge chairs like we did, for as long as you keep ordering a bit every once in a while. Lounge chairs become harder to get on the weekend, but the people watching is much more fun!
At the end of the day we returned to Mazatlan with great memories, and out of pocket cost of only $12/person. Of course, our small group was comfortable walking about two kilometers from the water taxi launch to our B&B. Overall, it was a fun and economical self guided excursion for out day stop at Mazatlan. We encounter no problems or at any time felt unsafe during our stay. During our stay in November, we went back again and again…
Stone Island tour has been great and cheap experience!
Have a good and healthy season.
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