09/28/2018 – The Washington Post
Our cab ride from the airport was a quick one: less than 30 minutes from the curb to our beachside hotel in the historic district in Mazatlan. Along the route, my husband chatted in Spanish with our driver and I surveyed the passing scene, glimpsing fleets of shrimp boats by the dozens and streets abuzz with commerce.
This was a compromise vacation. He wanted nature, meaning a wild beach to surf and fish, and I needed culture, a town with interesting architecture, art and a lively dining scene. As we crested a hill and saw the curve of Olas Altas beach — blissfully free of rental chairs and vendors — rimmed by low-key beachfront hotels and streetside restaurants, I began to suspect we had found our place.
Located due east from the tip of the Baja California peninsula, where the Sea of Cortez meets the Pacific Ocean, Mazatlan sprawls along approximately 12 miles of scalloped coastline at the base of the Sierra Madre. First settled by Spanish conquest in the 1500s — the name comes from the indigenous Nahuatl word meaning “place of deer” — the town grew through subsequent waves of immigrants, including German settlers in the 19th century whose decorative buildings still line the old town streets.