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The Mexican Riviera

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Ensenada to Mazatlan





Best Places to Visit  in The Mexican Riviera

Ensenada to Mazatlan

 The  Mexican Riviera has great weather, fantastic beaches and a laid-back atmosphere

With over two-thousand miles of shoreline and an enticing subtropical climate, the Mexican Riviera is one of Mexico's most popular vacation destinations. 

Starting at Ensenada and ending south of Acapulco, the Mexican Riviera provides a perfect opportunity for a cruise-based vacation to a mix of the Riviera's leading destinations or a land-based vacation targeted at one of the many resort areas this coast has to offer.  

While all areas are attractive, Cabo San Lucas is the location most often selected by those who want several days to play.

Winter is the preferred season for vacationing along the Mexican Riviera.  Summer can be uncomfortably warm, although spring and fall can be very pleasant.  See our note to the right on the Northern Pacific Hurricane season.

Our page below provides a brief overviews of the northern section of the Mexican Riviera, including  Ensenada, Cabo San Lucas, and Mazatlan.  A second page covers the southern section of the Mexican Riviera, including  Puerto Vallarta, Ixtapa and Acapulco.

Ensenada, Baja del Norte

A beautiful sunset, great weather and excellent surfing mark Ensenada as a place to visit

Ensenada,  which was discovered by Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo in 1542, is located in Baja, Mexico, approximately 70 miles south of the border with the United States.   Ensenada, which is Baja's third largest city,  is located on the Bah� (bay) de Todos Santos and is a leading seaport for both commercial shipping  and cruise lines.   

Ensenada is known for its great beaches and is a popular location with surfers.  Its Todos Santos Island is famous for large waves and has been the site of several international surfing championships. 

The area around Ensenada is regarded by many as the premier viticulture area of Mexico and several  award winning vineyards are located here. Gray whales migrate through the area between November and May and whale watching cruises are a popular activity during this period.

Ensenada's role as major shipping port  and industrial center detracts somewhat  from its  role as a tourist haven.  While many cruise ships stop here and surfers arrive by the carload, it is unlikely that you would choose to vacation in Ensenada rather than Los Cabo.  However, it is a pleasant place to visit.  You can find more detail on Ensenada at the official website of its tourist board.


A cruise is the best way to sample to delight of the Mexican Riviera

Cabo San Lucas, Baja del Sur

Cabo San Lucas is  located at the very edge of Baja, California in an area called Los Cabos (the Capes).  It is here that the Pacific Ocean meets the Sea of Cortez (Cortes) in a stunning contrast of  desert landscapes and ocean currents.  Although the area is a true desert,  it has a unique beauty that is magnified the azure-blue water that surrounds it.  Cabo is an area that has grown in popularity and we cover it in more detail in our Guide to Cabo San Lucas.


Mazatlan, Sinaloa

Mazsatlan is known for its long, scenic beach

See Travel Caution at the end of this article.

Mazatlan is located east of Baja, across the Sea of Cortez, on the mainland of Mexico.  It is known for its long stretch of flat beach than runs thirteen miles down the coast.  Mazatlan offers fine sunbathing, swimming, parasailing and a wide variety of water sports.   Most of the top resorts in Mazatlan are clustered around an area known as Gaviotas Beach.  

Mazatlan's Old Town is a modest sized historic center with narrow streets and many interesting buildings from the city's past.  Be sure to take in the area around the enchanting Machada Plaza.

Mazatlan is surrounded by the Sierra Madre Occidental mountains.  In these mountains  you will find the town of Concordia, which dates from the 15th century.  It attracts many visitors to its colonial church and other architectural attractions.  In addition, Copala, a gold mining town in the same area, dates from the 15th century and may be of interest.

Wildlife tours are very popular with visitors to the Mexican Riviera

Mazatlan is known for its famous Carnival held each year in February. (search the official tourism site of Mazatlan for more information).   In addition, if you visit, you might want to catch the show by the Papantla Flyers who perform acrobatics reenacting an ancient ritual while on 75-foot tall poles.  

Finally, the local islands, especially the Three Islands area ( the Bird, Deer and Wolf islands), are part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site Island and Protected Areas of the Gulf of California and well worth seeing.  Consider visiting this area  if you have time for a cruise or some kayaking.   If you visit, you will find great sunbathing and opportunities to watch an abundance of local bird  and marine life.  You can arrange a cruise from the Marina Mazatlan.

Travel Caution

In the past, several cruise itineraries dropped and, eventually, reinstated Mazatlan as a port of call.  It is our understanding that this was due to reported attacks on passengers and crew while in port.  All travelers to Mazatlan should check locally to ensure their safety while traveling.


Next- Puerto Vallarta, Ixtapa and Acapulco

Or - Guide to Cabo San Lucas

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Hurricane Season

The Northeast Pacific basin has a broad peak of hurricane activity with storms beginning in late May or early June and continuing until late October or early November.

Peak  storminess is usually  in late August to early September. The  United States National Hurricane Center's official Hurricane Season  dates for this basin are from May 15th to November 30th.





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Where Next?

East Coast/ The Yucatan

Riviera Maya

West Coast

Mexican Riviera South
Puerto Vallarta

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