Travel Warning WARNING: Sinaloa is one of the most crime-ridden areas in Mexico. Violent crime is widespread, and there are numerous criminal organisations operating in the state. In January 2023, fighting erupted security forces and a drug cartel. The Canadian government has advised Canadian tourists to "shelter in place".
Government travel advisories
(Information last updated 06 Jan 2023)

Sinaloa is a state in Northern Mexico. It is the most important agricultural state in the Federation, which has earned it the nickname "the granary of Mexico". It has the second largest fishing fleet in the country. Culturally, it is known nationally and even worldwide for its typical music, the Banda or Tambora.

Cities Edit

  • 1 Culiacán — capital of Sinaloa, known for its historic center, and its "dancing fountains"
  • 2 Cosalá — a charming town named a "Pueblo Mágico" by Mexico's Secretariat of Tourism (SECTUR)
  • 3 El Fuerte — a colonial gem, named a "Pueblo Mágico" by Mexico's Secretariat of Tourism
  • 4 Guasave — the agricultural heart of Mexico
  • 5 Los Mochis — "the entrance" to the Copper Canyon
  • 6 Mazatlán — a beach resort
  • 7 Topolobampo — port town of Los Mochis, surrounded by bays and mangroves

Other destinations Edit

Sinaloa is rather like the country of Chile in that it is a long narrow strip of land with ocean on its west and mountains in the east. As a result there are a lot of overlooked beaches and mountain playgrounds for those willing to get off the beaten path and explore a bit.

Understand Edit

Prior to the arrival of the Spanish Empire, the entire region was once populated by the Cahíta, an indigenous ethnic group. The Spanish Empire maintained a very tight grip over the region, and committed numerous atrocities — the Cahita had been largely displaced, numerous tribal leaders were executed for instigating uprisings and rebellions against the Spanish, and many were forced to work as slaves. The state was once a part of Sonora, but in 1830, Sinaloa split to become a separate region.

Throughout much of the 1800s and 1900s, Sinaloa was a very popular destination for immigrants, receiving waves of people from all corners of the world; many Germans moved to the city of Mazatlan and were able to make it a popular seaport, the state was a major source of opium partly because of Chinese settlers, and the state is home to a large community of Arabs, most of whom trace their roots to either Lebanon or Syria.

Fishing boats line the harbor in Topolobampo Sinaloa

Sinaloa is widely known as "Mexico's breadbasket" — The state has one of the largest fishing fleets in all of Mexico, it is the country’s leading producer of rice and vegetables, and is the second largest producer of wheat and beans. These factors have helped to make Sinaloa one of the richest and most developed states in all of Mexico. The state has an HDI comparable to Mauritius.

Since the 1990s, political instability, crime, and the ongoing drug wars have beset the state. One of the most infamous drug cartels in the world, the Sinaloa Cartel, is based here and it has been widely regarded by many as the largest and most influential drug cartel in the world. Its influence in the state is so profound that the state's culture has been influenced by them and even the Mexican government often doesn't have any clue on how to deal with them. As evidence, in October 2019, a major shootout took place in Culiacan in which the government was forced to release a member they captured because the Cartel proved to be too problematic for the government to handle.

Music Edit

The music of Banda sinaloense is the type of music recognized as original and typical of the state of Sinaloa. Its instrumental composition differentiates it from the other musical styles of the country. The dominance of banda music in this region of the country cannot be overstated.

Banda is performed by large bands composed primarily of brass and woodwind instruments. A 20-member band is fairly typical of well-known banda performers, such as Banda el Recodo (the most popular band in Sinaloa, performing since 1938, with many platinum albums, Grammy, Billboard and other awards to their credit).

Climate Edit

Sinaloa has a warm climate on the coast; moderately warm climate in the valleys and foothills; moderately cold in the lower mountains, and cold in the higher elevations. Its weather characteristics vary from subtropical, found on coastal plains, to cold in the nearby mountains. Temperatures range from 22 °C (72 °F) to 43 °C (109 °F) with rain and thunderstorms during the rainy season (June to October) and dry conditions throughout most of the year. Its average annual precipitation is 790 millimetres.

Get in Edit

By plane Edit

  • 1 Los Mochis International Airport   (LMM IATA)
  • 2 General Rafael Buelna International Airport - Mazatlan   (MZT IATA)
  • 3 Federal de Bachigualato International Airport - Culiacan   (CUL IATA)

By train Edit

The Chihuahua al Pacifico Railway (el Chepe) connects the city of Creel in the state of Chihuahua to Los Mochis, Sinaloa, on the Pacific Ocean coast. It travels 673 km, crossing the beautiful Copper Canyon.

Get around Edit

See Edit

  • A total solar eclipse in Mazatlan on Monday 8 April 2024, starting at 12:07 local time and lasting 4 min. This is the first continental landfall of this eclipse, tracking northeast towards Durango and Texas.
  • Islands and Protected Areas of the Gulf of California — a UNESCO World Heritage site, shared with three other Mexican states
  • Tarahumara people. The central, southern and eastern areas of Las Barracas have been home to the Tarahumara indigenous community for hundreds of years. The Tarahumaras or raráhumare (raramuri), as they are also known, preserve many original elements of their culture although they have taken some others from Western culture.
  • Sinaloa is the only place in the continent where the ancient Mesoamerican ballgame, "Ulama", is still played, in a handful of small, rural communities not far from Mazatlán. The ritual ballgame was central in the society, religion and cosmology of all the great Mesoamerican cultures including the Mixtecs, Aztecs, and Maya.

Itineraries Edit

Do Edit

Eat Edit

Although fish and seafood are an important part of the gastronomic specialties of Sinaloa, it also has typical foods of the state such as

  • Chilorio: pork meat finely shredded and seasoned with ancho chili sauce and other spices, achieving a unique flavor.
  • Sinaloa-style grilled chicken is another specialty that has spread to other places for its exquisite flavor.
  • Mochomo: cecina-type beef is another typical specialty of Sinaloa, in the same way as the papered pigeons, as well as the cut for roasted meat called cabreria.
  • Aguachile: marinated in lemon juice, stuffed with grated cheese, wrapped with bacon or cooked on the grill, not to mention the zarandeado fish.

Drink Edit

Stay safe Edit

Sinaloa is widely regarded as one of the most unsafe states in Mexico, and its reputation as a crime-ridden state has been cemented internationally by the fact that it is the home to several criminal organisations. This said, the average traveller should not be too overly concerned or cautious of their surroundings. A lot of the crime occurs between those involved in the drug trade, which normally doesn't affect tourists at all.

If you feel unsafe or unsettled in an area, practice vigilance and vacate the area immediately. The police are not always reliable.

Go next Edit

This region travel guide to Sinaloa is an outline and may need more content. It has a template, but there is not enough information present. If there are Cities and Other destinations listed, they may not all be at usable status or there may not be a valid regional structure and a "Get in" section describing all of the typical ways to get here. Please plunge forward and help it grow!