It's quite sad to return from a trip abroad and find out you missed one main attraction in the city. This happened quite a lot in pre-Internet days, now it is not as common. Anyway, if you stroll down a few times on the "Malecon", you'll be able to say you visited Puerto Vallarta and experienced the heart and soul of it all.
This seaside stroll is a great place to experience what makes PV so Mexican. In the past, the local social life in town centered around the main square, then later in the 1930's along the Malecon. Just so you know a "Malecón" is the Spanish name for an "esplanade along a waterfront".
This promenade was recently renovated, even though some call it a boardwalk, there are no boards here... Once you visit it, it'll become one of your favorite spots in town and will be on of the best memories you'll take back home. The colors, tradition, art and just plain old beauty will make a lasting impression.
Details & facts:
- The north side starts off at Hotel Rosita (The Millennia Statue), ends by the Amphitheater (Aquiles Serdán Plaza) beside the Plaza de Armas (Main City Square).
- Attractions and sightseeing: statues, the locals, stores, street and sea-side artists, the panorama: sea, waves, bay & sunsets, restaurants, bars and much more.
- More or less 11 blocks (800m/2500ft) in the downtown area.
- More than 80% of it is completely for pedestrians.
- Enjoy the Voladores de Papantla (regular shows during the day).
- After 10-11PM it is also the heart of the local nightlife.
- The first part, from the Aquiles Serdan Square to the Customs Office (that no longer exists, by the lighthouse on Galeana, right on the curve) built in 1936.
- Initially known as "Paseo de la Revolución" then as "Paseo Díaz Ordaz", now just called "El Malecón".
Though it officially starts by Hotel Rosita on the north side (the millennium Statue), you can continue a bit more along the edge of the sea for some blocks north, on the south side it ends officially by the amphitheater (Esplanada Aquiles Serdán), but now you can also continue along, what is known as "Malecon II", all the way to the Cuale river and further south to Old Vallarta and Los Muertos Beach, crossing a pedestrian bridge over the Cuale River & island - also a great place to jog in the mornings.
If we concentrate on the traditional part of the Malecon, the first thing you’ll notice: no more cars, buses, and taxis, so walking along is more relaxing than ever, you stroll, you stop, you enjoy the whole space for yourself, no more dodging crazy Mexican taxis (well, not as crazy as in other bigger cities, but still crazy).
Now there are also more palm trees, shade, and decorative plants than before (some palm trees on the beach too, nice move, if they survive...). The spaces have been designed with pedestrians in mind, so you can walk along enjoying, there are places you can rest and really absorb the view and sights along the way.
The wider “esplanade” makes space for more in every sense, now even the sidewalk you stroll upon gives way to art. You'll now enjoy the impressive and beautiful statues of this open-air museum/art gallery every block along the promenade, and the intricate designs with Huichol motifs on the ground itself too.
These artistic touches were provided by Fidencio Benítez, a well-known artist with works that can be found around town in different art galleries. So now we can say, that in Pto. Vallarta not only do you enjoy watching art, you can walk all over it too! How about that!
In the morning you’ll enjoy the warm sun appearing over the jungle hills and town, seabirds, the soft waves, fresh coffee smells and people starting off their day, either running as a sport or to their jobs...
During the afternoon and night, both locals and visitors, arrive to enjoy the activities and promenade along the edge of the sea, there are lots of things to do, see and enjoy. Lots of vendors offering art, souvenirs, balloons, toys, drinks, and food, renting or lending out bikes, skateboarders, sketch artists, you name it, there is so much to enjoy there.
So enjoy a Tejuino (I don’t, but maybe you'll like it), tuba, grilled corn on the cob, an ice-cream or maybe a fresh delicious coconut. Along the way, you’ll be amazed by the sand sculptures and the experts in balancing stones… how do they do it? Ah, and don’t miss the Papantla Birdmen that circle around 100 feet off the ground, now close to the Seahorse statue.
The Malecon now offers free Wi-Fi too, so you’ll be able to share your beautiful PV sunset photographs/videos in real-time and get innumerable “likes” from your envious Facebook friends! Just imagine that! ;-)
Anyway, for those not caught up in the FB frenzy, we are still quite sure some of your best photos and memories will be found here.
If you get hungry or want to shop a bit, the options are tantalizing, from hamburgers to shrimp, street-side to home-style to gourmet, cafes, restaurants or bars, souvenirs, trendy or art, you’ll find it all right here on the Malecon.
At night, you’ll find the Malecon offers all kinds of exciting options, Bebotero, La Bodeguita, Zoo and many other nightclubs and discos open up and stay open till 3 AM or even longer.
Once you’ve arrived at the amphitheater, enjoy shows, music, clowns or theater, walk over the street, to the main plaza, and take a seat with your ice-cream or feed the pigeons, then walk over the next street walk a block and visit the iconic Our Lady of Guadalupe parish.
The variety of options and things you can see is amazing and all are a welcome opportunity for you to escape from your normal routine and enjoy something totally new or discover your next favorite meal from the many PV options.
So don’t leave Puerto Vallarta without experiencing the Malecon, more than once, we are sure you’ll visit the city again if you do.
Walking Art Tour of the Malecon
Puerto Vallarta's art gallery Galeria Pacifico sponsors a public Sculpture Walking Tour starting at 9:30 AM every Tuesday from November to April each year, starting off at the Millennium sculpture near the Hotel Rosita on the north end of the walkway.
More information at: