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In addition to 3-hour city tours ($25), tour operators offer excursions to many colorful and interesting villages nearby, such as Concordia and Copala. Some towns date from the 16th-century Spanish Conquest; others are modest farming or fishing villages. Information and reservations are available at any travel agency or major hotel, and all accept major credit cards. The premier provider of these and other tours is Pronatours (tel. 669/916-7720, -3333, ext. 3490; www.elcid.com/pronatours), yet another part of the El Cid megacomplex of activities. In addition to the city tour, they offer a 5-hour Tequila Tour that includes a distillery tour and lunch ($45), a 5-hour sailing excursion to Deer Island (Isla de Venados) that includes kayaking, snorkeling, buffet lunch, and open bar ($50), and a visit to a historic village by the El Quelite river. Three other recommended tour agencies are Viajes el Sábalo (tel. 669/986-4930; www.viajeselsabalo.com); Olé Tours (tel. 669/916-6288; www.ole-tours.com); and the sustainable tourism company Sendero Mexico (tel. 669/940-8687; www.senderomexico.com), based in the Hotel Playa Mazatlán.

Copala-Concordia -- This popular 6-hour countryside tour stops at several mountain villages where artisans craft furniture and other items. Copala is a historic mining village with a Spanish-colonial church, and it seems all the residents are dedicated to making furniture, bricks, and pottery. The tour ($55), also run by Pronatours , includes lunch and soft drinks.

Mazatlán Jungle Tour -- Some might say that David Pérez's (King David's) Jungle Tour (tel. 669/914-1444; www.kingdavid.com.mx) is misnamed, but it's still worthwhile. It consists of a 1 1/2-hour boat ride past a Mexican navy base and Mazatlán's shrimp fleet and packing plants, and into the mangrove swamps to Isla de la Piedra (Stone Island). There's a 3-hour stop at a pristine beach that has what could be the world's largest sand dollars (though fewer and fewer are left). Horseback rides on the beach are available for a modest fee. After the beach stop, feast on pescado zarandeado (fish cooked over coconut husks, green mangrove, and charcoal). Tours run from 9am to 3pm Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, and cost $45 per person. Pronatours offers a similar version of this tour.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.