Mezcaltitán: 3 Hours South of Mazatlán

island Aztlan

Mezcaltitán is a small manmade island town that is the ancestral home of the Mexican people. Archeological evidence shows it may be the legendary island of Aztlán, from where the Aztecs (the Mexica) departed in 1091 AD on their long journey to settle Tenochtitlán in the Valley of Mexico.

Called the “Mexican Venice,” Mezcaltitán did remind us of Italy. Perhaps more of Isola dei Pescatori on Lago Maggiore than of Venezia, but definitely worth the visit. It’s streets often flood in September; its houses, streets and electric transformers are built and located accordingly. The island is very pedestrian-friendly as there are no cars, only a very few four-wheelers. It is a gorgeous Pueblo Mágico: beautiful old homes and buildings, a charming church and plaza, an informative history museum, handicrafts, excellent seafood, friendly people, serene views and wildlife all around.

Below are some of the photos we took during our day on Mezcaltitán; click on any photo to enlarge it or view a slideshow.

We very much enjoyed our visit and would highly encourage you to make the trip. You could wake up early in Mazatlán and make this a day trip, with a nice lunch and walk around Mezcaltitán. Or, you could spend the night and the following morning go out on a nearby birding adventure. Either way, very nice day trip or weekend getaway from our gorgeous home of Mazatlán.

Feast Days are June 28-29, Feasts of Saints Peter and Paul. While we were not there during the festival, I would love to attend. We’re told that it opens the shrimping season. There is a boat regatta with competing teams carrying statues of Saints Peter or Paul, and locals dress up in feathered headdresses and jaguar robes.

Directions from Mazatlán:
Drive 136 miles (219 km) south on Highway 15 toward Tepic. Exit four miles south of Chilapa at a signed turnoff for Mezcaltitán by a gas station. The road is initially paved but changes to gravel, finally arriving at embarcadero La Ticha after 28 miles (45 km).

Mexcaltitán is also accessible via a short boat ride from the dock in La Batanza, 25 miles (32 km) northwest of Santiago de Ixcuintla. Santiago Ixcuintla can be reached from Highway 15; exit at the Santiago Ixcuintla turnoff 38 miles (60 km) north of Tepic. About five miles (8 km) after the turnoff, you reach Santiago.Go through town on the main street, 20 de Noviembre, which runs by the central plaza and becomes the main westbound road out of town. Continue another five miles (8 km) to the signed Mexcaltitán turnoff, where you head right. About 15 miles (24 km) after the turnoff you reach the embarcadero for Mexcaltitán.

UNBELIEVABLE Bird Watching in Singayta

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After Christmas this year we decided to head south of Mazatlán a few hours by car, to check out an area we had yet to visit — the small coastal towns of Nayarit, south of Teacapán and north of Puerto Vallarta.


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One of the highlights of the trip was a tour by lancha or small boat to Singayta, a bird sanctuary that is home to over 350 species. We were told that 80% of the migratory birds of the Pacific coast visit this area. We are spoiled by the daily opportunity to see loads of water birds right here in Mazatlán, so we wondered whether it would be worth waking up at 6:30 in the morning on our holiday. It was.


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Our guide told us that the roseate spoonbills were nesting, and that we would have opportunity to see their nests and their babies. That’s what convinced us to take the trip. And we did see many, many roseate spoonbills.


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We especially enjoyed watching those spoonbills feed their young (slideshow above). The babies were larger than we expected, already a couple of months old, though many of them hadn’t yet gotten their pink color. Our guide said the height of the spoonbill nesting season is October through December.


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As we boated up the river we saw so many birds of so many types. Our guide told us what all of them were, but I am no birder and it was hard to keep track. We saw eagles, storks, cranes, ibises, herons, nightjars, rails, egrets, cormorants, northern potoos and Jesus birds, among many others.


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Our guide was keen to make sure we saw the variety of eagles that we encountered. I suppose it was much easier for us to notice the larger birds, so was glad he pointed out so much.


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The area is gorgeous — full of mangrove swamps, estuaries, rivers and other wetlands, along the lines of Agua Verde or Teacapán, much as Mazatlán used to be. We saw a great variety of trees, flowers, lilies and other plant life.


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As we approached the actual bird sanctuary, we were amazed at what we saw in the distance. Floating islands of green that were COMPLETELY FILLED with large nests and more birds than I’ve ever seen in my life! We felt like we were in a Hitchcock movie! I can also assure you that the smell won’t be bottled for perfume anytime soon! As we approached the nesting area our guide cut the motor and paddled us closer.


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In the slideshow above you can see some of the mature birds as well as their young, and you can get an idea just how many nests each little floating island contained. What a pleasure! Many of the parents were busy feeding their kids, as you can see, and many of the young birds are a different color than their parents (I assume they grow into their colors).


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We also saw a lot of turtles and cayman. Many of the cayman were out sunning, and several of them seemed to want to pose for my camera.

Singayta is a 90 minute boat ride north of San Blas, Nayarit. San Blas is three and a half hours south of Mazatlán, just this side of Tepic on the coast. We took the lancha that leaves from the far side of the river from San Blas — over the bridge from town. The boat and driver/guide cost us 700 pesos, and we could have taken eight passengers for that price. Our guide was very knowledgable about the birds as well as the flora and fauna of the area, as well as very attentive to our needs and desires. The area can alternatively be reached overland via driving and hiking.

We definitely encourage you to make the trip! Not a far drive at all from Mazatlán, and this would make for a terrific overnight or weekend.