Skip to Content

Is Mazatlan Safe to Travel in 2024? Examining Crime, Violence, and Dangers

Is Mazatlan safe? Mazatlan is a popular beach resort town on Mexico’s Pacific coast. It is famed for sandy beaches, historic colonial landmarks, and a vibrant cultural scene. However, it has recently faced some concerns over crime and safety issues.

Petty theft and mugging unfortunately occur, with some incidents specifically targeting tourists. There has also been cartel and gang violence, including shootouts, though primarily in outlying areas away from tourist zones.

But how do you ensure your safety in Mazatlan? What areas should you avoid, and what precautions should you take? Keep reading to uncover safety measures, info on the most secure neighborhoods, getting around via taxi or bus, and more. Let’s dive into the details of safely enjoying this popular beach destination.

Is Mazatlan Mexico Safe to Visit in 2024 –  Key Takeaways

  1. Cartel Violence Risk – MEDIUM
  2. Kidnappings Risk – MEDIUM
  3. Fraud Risk – MEDIUM
  4. Petty Theft Risk – MEDIUM
  5. Level of Danger When Driving – MEDIUM
  6. Level of Danger in Buses – MEDIUM
  7. Level of Danger in Taxi – LOW
  8. Level of Danger at Night – MEDIUM
  9. Bad Areas – Southern Malecon and Beach Areas, Residential Colonias Outside Centro, Centro Historico Side Streets
  10. Safe Places – Malecon Boardwalk, Historic Center, Golden Zone, Stone Island, Plaza Machado, Mercado Pino Suarez
  11. Crime in Mazatlan compared to other cities in Mexico – Rating based on real reviews from travelers and locals according to Numbeo. Crime index meaning: 0-20 is very low, 20-40 is low, 40-60 is moderate, 60-80 is high, and 80-100 is very high.

CITY

STATE

CRIME INDEX

Guerrero

28.92

Quintana Roo

34.21

Jalisco

35.70

Quintana Roo

36.94

Queretaro

37.55

Mazatlán

Sinaloa

39.43

Oaxaca

43.19

 Baja California Sur

43.24

Nogales

Sonora

45.39

Nuevo León

48.25

Veracruz

49.20

Guanajuato

50.54

San Miguel de Allende

Guanajuato

50.94

Сhihuahua

55.49

Quintana Roo

55.73

Morelia

Michoacan

56.90

Puebla

58.23

Chihuahua

68.71

Baja California

71.99

U.S. government employees may travel to Mazatlan by air or sea only, are limited to the Zona Dorada and historic town center, and must travel via direct routes between these destinations and the airport and sea terminal.U.S. Department of State Travel Advisory for Mexico

Mazatlan Mexico Safety and Crime

Mazatlan is located in the state of Sinaloa. According to the Mexican official national report in 2023, in the state, there were 33,645 crimes. In January 2024 the value was – 2,676 incidents. As for Mazatlan City itself, according to Sinaloa Semaforo, the cumulative number of crimes for 2023 was 3,860, and for January 2024 was 234.

Mazatlan Mexico Safety and Crime
Сredit: www.gob.mx
Important! The Sinaloa state with the city Mazatlan is classified by the U.S. Department of State Travel Advisory as a Level 4 region (Do Not Travel) due to to crime and kidnapping. It is recommended look to attention to official government alerts before making a decision about travelling to this area.

Cartel Violence Risk – Moderate

Sinaloa state is an area of caution due to organized crime. Homicides attributed to a rate of 13% of the total crimes in 2023 with most of the cases linked to cartel violence. Elcri’s report shows that there have been 44 homicide cases in 2023 which poses concerns over safety in Mazatlan.

Cartel Violence Risk in Mazatlan
Сredit: www.elcri.men

Additionally, BorderReport says that Mexican cartel violence is likely to increase in 2024. Regarding Numbeo data for January 2024 risk of violent crime, such as assault and armed robbery is 40,70 from 100 which is moderate. But pay attention that this value is based on 43 contributors.

Kidnappings Risk – Moderate

As per data Sinaloa Semaforo in Mazatlan had only 1 reported kidnapping incident in 2023. However, January 2024 has seen a slight uptick, with 3 kidnapping incidents reported in just 1 month alone. The overall risk remains relatively low compared to other regions.

Regarding Numbeo data for January 2024 based on 43 contributors risk of violent crime, such as assault and armed robbery is 40,70 from 100 which is moderate.

Frauds Risk – Moderate

Mazatlan sees a medium level of fraud crimes targeting visitors, according to Sinaloa Semáforo. The city witnessed 12 cases of extortion, a common form of fraud, in 2023. However, in January 2024 alone, the city recorded 11 extortion cases, indicating a potential upward trend.

Frauds Risk in Mazatlan

Some common issues to be aware of include:

  1. Timeshare Scams: The FBI warns about high-pressure sales tactics for timeshares targeted by fraudsters. Especially offers that seem “too good to be true.”
  2. ATM skimming: Scammers can install skimming devices on ATM card slots to steal account information. Use ATMs only inside banks or reputable establishments. Cover the keypad when entering your PIN. Check bank statements regularly for unauthorized charges to detect potential fraud.
  3. Beach vendors: While relaxing on the beach, vendors may aggressively negotiate prices or claim items are handmade when they are not. Know the typical prices for items like blankets or jewelry beforehand to judge better if the quoted price is fair.
  4. Fake tour guides: Criminals sometimes pose as police officers to extract bribes or fines from tourists. Ask to see credentials and note badge numbers. Consider politely asking to go to the nearest police station if uncertain.
  5. Police impersonators: Criminals sometimes pose as police officers to extract bribes or fines from tourists. Ask to see credentials, note badge numbers, and consider politely asking to go to the nearest police station if uncertain.
  6. Street vendor scams: Street sellers may try to inflate item prices or use pushy sales tactics grossly. Bargain on prices, confirm the authenticity of goods, and don’t feel pressured to purchase to avoid paying too much.

Petty Theft Risk – Moderate

Petty theft poses a medium-level threat to Mazatlan safety. Government crime statistics show Sinaloa recording a total of 9,026 theft cases in 2023. There were 684 with violence, and 27 cases of robbery from a pedestrian in a public street. Also, according to Numbeo, the crime index for “worries about being mugged or robbed” of the Mazatlan is 32.14 out of 100.

Petty Theft Risk in Mazatlan

Avoiding Bad Areas

Mazatlan is generally safe to explore on foot during daylight hours throughout tourist zones like the Golden Zone and Centro Historico. However, certain areas pose higher risks after dark according to tourist police:

Avoiding Bad Areas in Mazatlan
  1. Southern Malecon and Beach Areas: The Malecon promenade south of Valentino’s restaurant becomes more isolated late at night. Tourists are advised against walking alone in this stretch after 11 pm.
  2. Residential Colonias Outside Centro: Neighborhoods like Juarez or other colonies increasingly see petty crime and street violence overnight as the economy declines. While safe during the day, tourists wander into remote residential zones after dark at their own risk.
  3. Centro Historico Side Streets: Plaza Machado and Olas Altas beachfront remain secure overnight. However, side streets just a few blocks from bars and restaurants witness rising crime targeting visitors walking alone after 10 pm.

With basic precautions focused on avoiding poorly lit and isolated areas after hours, Mazatlan remains safe to enjoy. Notify local authorities in case you run into trouble when visiting one of these areas.

The Complete Guide to Reputable Transportation Services

Mazatlan’s waterfront location and vibrant visitor culture mean travelers have various transportation options to reach attractions and stay mobile during their stay. However, some ways of getting around do carry more risks than others.

Is it Safe to Drive to  Mazatlan, Mexico? – Moderate Risk

Driving to Mazatlan from the U.S. border is considered moderately risk and straightforward during daylight hours. However, motorists must remain attentive to narrower highway shoulders, variable road quality, and unpredictable local driving habits. Numbeo statistics show that there is a 43.60 risk of “worries things from car stolen” and “36.59 of “worries car stolen”.

Is it Safe to Drive in Mazatlan

Additionally, there are safety risks when driving at night. This is mainly due to kidnapping and robbery risks as the state of Sinaloa recorded a total of 4 kidnappings and 3,598 motor vehicle thefts in 2023 according to the Security and Citizen Protection Secretary data. Some of these kidnappings and thefts may be attributed to driving at night on unsafe roads.

When driving from the border, travelers should use the following routes:

  1. Highway 15D (has tolls);
  2. The old Libre highway.
Important! You should avoid going East through Highway 200 which heads to Puerto Vallarta, an unsafe place.

Is it Safe to Travel to Mazatlan Using Buses? – Moderate Risk

Riding buses in Mazatlan poses medium safety concerns, and travelers should exercise caution when using this mode of transportation. Buses are frequently targeted for robbery and extortion by cartels and gangs.

Is it Safe to Travel to Mazatlan Using Buses

However, sticking to daylight schedules, central terminals, and routes within tourist zones can minimize risks. The most secure bus companies recommended for visitors include:

  1. ATP Primera Plus – Offers direct service to top attractions and airports.
  2. Agencia de Autobuses de Mazatlán – Popular for centrally-located terminals and routes to key neighborhoods.
  3. Pacifico – Connects with ferries and limits stops for faster service.

Are Taxis in Mazatlan Safe? – Low Risk

The overall safety in taxis in Mazatlan is good with a low risk of violent crime. However, solo travel is not recommended, especially if you are new or unfamiliar with the area. If you want private travel, book taxis with a company sign on the roofs or sides. Avoid unmarked taxis as they may pose a higher risk.

Here is a list of recommended licensed taxi services in Mazatlan to provide safer transportation options:

  1. Sitio Taxi Libres;
  2. Taxis Aquiles Serdan;
  3. EcoCabs Mazatlán;
  4. Mall Marina Taxi Service.

Is Mazatlan Safe at Night? – Moderate Risk

According to Numbeo, as of January 2024 Mazatlan has a moderately safety index to travel alone at night – 56.55. This indicates Mazatlan is generally safe for tourists and residents. But petty crimes like pickpocketing and robbery are more likely to occur after sunset. To ensure personal safety at night in Mazatlan, consider the following tips:

Is Mazatlan Safe at Night
  1. Stick to well-lit major streets and tourist areas, such as the Malecon seaside promenade and the Golden Zone tourist district.
  2. Avoid darker side streets and isolated regions.
  3. Travel in groups if possible, and refrain from overt displays of wealth.
Important! While not extremely dangerous, heightened precautions are warranted after dark, as advised by the official Mexico Travel Advisory from the U.S. Department of State.

Is Mazatlan Safe for Tourists? Safe Tourist Zones to Visit

When visiting Mazatlan, it’s understandable to have safety concerns. Fortunately, many parts of the city are considered secure and ideal for tourists. Here are some of the most popular tourist destinations to explore when you visit Mazatlán.

Safe Tourist Zones in Mazatlan to Visit
  1. Malecon Boardwalk: This scenic oceanside promenade stretches over 10 miles along the coastline. It’s famous for walking, cycling, and enjoying beach views. Heavy police presence keeps it relatively safe and convenient for you to explore the local environment.
  2. Historic Center: Mazatlan’s historic downtown area features charming colonial architecture, quaint plazas, and the Angela Peralta Theater. Located near the cruise port, it’s bustling during the day.
  3. Golden Zone: It is the prime tourist district with resorts, restaurants, and nightlife. Police presence is high, and officers stay busy at night. This ensures safety for visitors and locals alike.
  4. Stone Island: This laidback island getaway just offshore is excellent for swimming, snorkeling, and seafood. Ferries are safe and generally very secure.
  5. Plaza Machado: This lively plaza surrounded by restaurants and bars keeps busy well into the night. The vibrant ambiance and crowds provide good security.
  6. Mercado Pino Suarez: Mazatlan’s central market offers unique shopping and dining. Located near police headquarters, it makes for a safe daytime excursion.

Tips to Having a Safe and Enjoyable Trip in Mazatlan

If you decide to travel to Mazatlan to enjoy its culture despite warnings from the government, here are a few tips to consider:

  1. Get comprehensive travel insurance: Cover medical emergencies, trip cancellations, or lost baggage with a travel insurance policy. Choose a reputable provider like World Nomads or Allianz Travel Insurance. With limited embassy assistance in Mexico.
  2. Avoid any involvement with illegal drugs: Drug laws carry strict penalties in Mexico, and cartel violence poses safety risks. Even minor offenses involving marijuana or other substances can lead to jail time of up to 5 years. So do not use any illegal drugs under any circumstances.
  3. Carry small bills and limit cash on hand: Petty theft is common, with a total of 9,026 cases reported in the state of Sinaloa in 2023. Avoid flashing large amounts of cash openly. Use ATMs during daylight hours only and stash most money securely at your hotel.
  4. Use registered taxis and ride-share services: Unregulated taxis pose risks of kidnappings and armed robberies, especially for solo riders at night. Arrange airport transfers and travel via vetted alternatives like Uber.
  5. Travel in groups when possible: Isolated beaches and neighborhoods carry more risk after dark. Stick to busier areas and limit solo exploration.

FAQ

Is It Safe to Go to Mazatlán Mexico Right Now?

Unfortunately, it’s not safe enough to go to Mazatlan right now. Although the city itself have low crime level according to Numbeo, the city itself is located in the Sinaloa state. The Department of state advise “do not travel” to this area.

Which Is Safer Mazatlán or Puerto Vallarta?

Puerto Vallarta has a lower crime rate and higher safety index score compared to Mazatlán, indicating it is generally a safer city for travelers. Specifically, Puerto Vallarta has a crime index of 35.70, while Mazatlán is 39.43, according to Numbeo statistics. So visitors can expect to face slightly lower risks in Puerto Vallarta. 

Which Cartel Controls Mazatlán?

The Sinaloa cartel and breakaway Beltrán Leyva faction dispute control over Mazatlán and its critical port access. However, conflicts have largely avoided tourist areas, instead staying confined to gang turf wars in outer rural regions.

Is Mazatlan Safe for Solo Female Travellers?

While violent crime in Mazatlan is rare, it is hard to say that female solo travelers are in safety. This is because the city is located in an unfavorable area and the U.S. government recommends avoiding travel here.

Conclusion

So let’s summarize, is Mazatlan safe? The city has a moderate crime index of 39.43, according to Numbeo. Some common offenses include petty theft, mugging, and occasional organized crime violence. However the U.S. government has issued a Level 4 Travel Advisory for Sinaloa state, where Mazatlan is located. This level stating “Do not travel”. So if you decide to travel there, use extreme caution.

To mitigate risks, it would help to avoid isolated areas as they tend to have less security presence and higher chances of encountering criminal activities. The safer areas are the Golden Zone, Malecon Boardwalk, and Historic Downtown.

Moreover, check your surroundings and exercise standard precautions like using registered taxis, keeping valuables secure, get comprehensive travel insurance, avoid drug involvement. Lastly, register with STEP to get timely alerts and have the most enjoyable trip in Mazatlan.