Spent Pi day at my favorite beach, La Isla de la Piedra (Stone Island). It’s not really an island, but unless you want to drive almost out to the airport, you do have to take a panga (water taxi) from Mazatlán to get there. While I was enjoying the sound of the surf and my chips and guacamole I thought perhaps a post on how to get there and back might be appropriate. Here goes!
The first step is determined by your comfort level with local transportation. You can pay a bunch of pesos for a tour or hire a pulmonia/taxi to take you to the Embarcadero Playa Sur, but my preferred method is the eleven peso green & white Sabalo Centro bus. The Sabalo Centro bus runs, I believe, from Cerritos (North of Mazatlán) to El Faro (the lighthouse). If you are coming from the Zona Dorada (Gold Zone) you want to catch it on the West side of Av. Camaron Sabalo, which is the main drag. If you’re South of Valentinos, you can flag it down anywhere on the West side of Av. Del Mar. From Centro, you want to catch it at the mercado, on the Av. Aquiles Serdán side (NOT on Benito Juarez, that side takes you North to the Zona Dorada and Cerritos). Eleven pesos no matter where you board. Ask the driver to let you know when you need to get off for the Embarcadero (say something like, “Dime cuando estamos a el Embarcadero Playa Sur, por favor”). It’s not a long walk back to the embarcadero if you miss it and wind up at El Faro. The Sabalo Centro bus is usually green with white trim – but always look to see what the sign, or the words on the windshield say.
You’ll know when you are at the right spot from the very long chain-link fence on the South side of the road. It’s also at a spot where the bus makes a 90 degree turn. The entrance to the embarcadero is at the corner, right at the turn, and can be identified by the unobtrusive sign declaring “Embarcadero Playa Sur”. ** Note: There are TWO embarcaderos to Stone Island. This is the one that drops you off just steps from the beach. The other embarcadero is used primarily by residents of Stone Island that work in Mazatlán, and is located a bit further down the street, past the cruise terminal and Naval base. If you find yourself there, you’ll need to find transportation to the beach once you’re on the Stone Island side. There are usually aurigas/taxis waiting on the road, or you can take about a 20 minute walk. You will also need to come back from the same embarcadero – the tickets are not interchangeable between embarcaderos.
Once you arrive at the Embarcadero Playa Sur, you’ll walk down a gravelly road to the cashier. The current rate for the round trip is 30 pesos per person. You pay the cashier and they give you a ticket. You show this ticket to them when you return, so don’t throw it away – otherwise you’ll have to pay another 30 pesos! Put your ticket someplace safe, then turn to your right and walk down the stairs to the dock. There will be several pangas there. If one has people in it, that’s the one you want to get in! If you’re the first on the dock, wait for the captain to come down and show you which boat to get into. Once in the boat, put your life jacket on. You don’t have to buckle it, but do put it on. When there are enough passengers to pay for the gas, the captain will depart and the very short ride to the embarcadero on the Stone Island side will begin. Interesting views of the maritime traffic, birds, and the Naval shipyard can be had, but for less than 5 minutes! Have the camera handy if you want to take pictures, it’s a short ride!
When you disembark, walk up to the road. If you turn to your right and walk a ways, you’ll hit a little cove that is usually quieter and the water is even calmer than the main beach. I suggest going to Cerro de los Chivos if you’re down that way. This isn’t the area I suggest for your first time to La Isla de la Piedra, as the views are very different, and the sand is coarser – however I do recommend that you try this part of the beach at least once, and Cerro de los Chivos is a really nice place to chill and enjoy the day. It’s also a great place if you have younger kids as it’s easier to keep an eye on them. Also good for those of you who don’t care for the beach vendors.
If you don’t turn right, but instead walk straight across the street, follow the path between the houses and you’ll quickly find yourself on a long expanse of beach with coconut groves in the background. This is where you’ll want to take off your shoes and begin your beach fun! If the tide is in, it can go all the way up to the tables/chairs in the restaurants – you won’t get a beach view, but you can have the ocean lapping at your toes as you enjoy your day!
On the main beach, I suggest Restaurant Lety’s. It’s a little walk down the beach – further than you think it would be, but then when you get there it seems that it wasn’t very far at all. Keep your eye out for the “Lety’s” sign, or for Ramón who is usually on the beach directing the tourists to a lounge chair or a table at Lety’s. I recommend Lety’s because it’s far enough from the beginning of the beach to remain quiet for longer; the food is very good; the beer is always cold; and the staff is great. Remember, this is México, so if you want something and they’ve been leaving you to enjoy the ocean and sand, speak up and they’ll take good care of you. One caveat – the nachos are a little sparse. Taste is good, but it’s a very small dish. The “Tostada Lety’s”, on the other hand, is an excellent choice.
When leaving La Isla de la Piedra, just do everything in reverse. Walk back to the embarcadero and make your way to the dock. If a panga isn’t there just wait for a couple of minutes. Once you’re back on the Mazatlán side, someone will usually ask to see the ticket you got when you paid your 30 pesos. You did keep it, right? If you make your way down the gravelly road to the street. You can flag the next Sabalo Centro bus down here – just stick your arm out as the bus approaches. Again, eleven pesos (currently) will get you back to the mercado, playa norte, zona dorada, or Cerritos. If the day is hot, you can watch for the bus from the shade under the trees in the median – just be sure to cross back over to flag the bus down!
A little sun, a lot of sand, some botanas and cervezas – La Isla de la Piedra is an excellent way to spend a day when you’re in Mazatlán!