Flew US Airways out of Phoenix. Flight was pretty full both ways, especially going over.
Lodging-rented a house in Centro for a week, checking in on Friday. The normal rate was $600, but they accepted our offer of $500 because I indicated we would check-in to the Golden Zone on Sunday and would not be spending that much more time in Centro. It was a great location, two blocks from the Cathedral, Mercado and an easy walk to Plaza Machado and Olas Altas. The house was a 3br and had been recently remodelled. It had a huge, walled outdoor patio accessible from the kitchen and master bedroom. Very high ceiling and well stocked kitchen with full size refrig. Also a laundry room and hi speed internet access. Everything was great except the sound of trucks, motorcycles and barking dogs at night which you will get almost anywhere in Centro. On Sunday we checked into Condominios Isla Del Sol on an RCI exchange. It is about 17 stories high and just north of El Cid El Moro and across the street from Casa Country. Each unit has two floors which was nice. Kitchen, dining and living room upstairs, 2 bedrooms and bathroom downstairs. Unfortunately no outdoor balcony, but a great view of the ocean. I don't think RCI has been involved much with this place for exchanges, but we were fortunate enough to get it. Most of the guests there were owners or had rented from owners. Small bar restaurant near the pool and a nice pool. The pool and deck area were elevated above the beach, so no beach vendors passing through the facility. I would stay there again, but it is not as nice as El Cid El Moro or Pueblo Bonita.
Fishing - we went out with Pepe's Fleet at the El Cid marina on a super panga. It was $250 and we had a captain and a mate, both very nice. We went out about 18 miles, same as last year when we caught a 40lb Mako Shark. This year we caught a 120lb Marlin. I've fished Mzt the last 15 out of 17 years and often times nothing caught. Fortunate to do well two years in a row. We spotted about 7 different Marlin on this trip and saw two others were caught that day when we returned back to the Marina. The weather was absolutely beautiful that day, Feb 18th.
Restaurants - Pancho's (the original one) twice and by far the best experience. I tried something different this time and really liked it. "Molcajete" which consisted of beef, chicken, shrimp, cheese, onions, etc. served in a boiling stone bowl. We also tried the "3 Amigos", shrimp prepared 3 different ways. Very good. Chili Peppers - I had read about it before on this forum, but this was our first time there. I really liked it. The first time was a late breakfast on a chilly morning. We were on the deck overlooking the beach. Noticed a few tables setup right on the beach and asked if we could move there and be in the sunlight. No problem and it was really enjoyable. Strongly recommend this. We returned later in the week during the evening, and again it was a great experience. Lobster was 200 pesos and just as good, if not better than Mr Lobster. Mr Lobster was ok and as I recall was also 200 pesos. Right off the main street and not nearly as nice of an atmosphere as Panchos or Chili Peppers. Costa Marinera - it's golden days have passed. It used to be packed there, but was pretty quiet the evening we went there. We noticed their prices were pretty high compared to other places. Ernie Tomato's - I still really like this place. It is across the street from Pueblo Bonita and to the north a short walk away. It is really a beautiful restaurant and the owner is very cordial and makes you feel welcome. Dunia (Centro) - we were there a little too late in the evening to buy shrimp from the Shrimp Ladies, but were able to order it there anyway. Its always a fun place to visit and to get a feeling of being among the locals. Also very inexpensive. Casa Country - haven't been there for years. They make fresh salsa right at your table which is a real delight. One thing I noticed was the steaks were really expensive. I think as high as about $35. Pretty unusual for Mazatlan. We were there at about 5pm on Thursday. It seemed like it was almost all locals and the restaurant was fairly busy for that time of day.
Aquario - we finally visited and enjoyed the exhibits and the "Seal Show". Also a fun walk around the park with all the other animal exhibits to look at. A nice break from the beach. I was surprised as to how close it was to the Malecon and particularly the best wine store in Mazatlan which we visit everytime there. It is only about two blocks down the hill from the wine store.
Lighthouse - yup, finally did it. I think the walk up was about 20 minutes and the views were great, both going up and down. We forgot to bring any beverages, but there was a little store at the lighthouse where you could buy bottled water and juices. That was nice!
Massage - twice at Athina (formerly Aroma Spa) located in Centro. In my opinion, best massage in Mazatlan. Cost only 240 pesos. Twice more at the "Mayan Massage" in the Golden Zone, just a little south and across the street from the Dairy Queen. On the second floor. Cost 200 pesos. We had stopped going there for the past two years because they were never on time and the quality had dropped. It was better this year.
Weather - overall very nice, but a few days windy and chilly.
Overall another great trip to Mazatlan. The locals are very friendly and make you feel welcome. We felt safe the whole time there. Nightlife - not much going on, especially in the Golden Zone, but I would rather go to bed early and go for a run in the morning anyway.