How to Visit Puerto Vallarta’s Boardwalk: Stroll, Savor, Explore

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How to Visit Puerto Vallarta’s Boardwalk: Stroll, Savor, Explore

Sitting along the sun-kissed shores of the Pacific Ocean, Puerto Vallarta is a captivating destination that seamlessly blends natural beauty, cultural richness, and a vibrant atmosphere.

Among its many treasures, the iconic Malecón, Puerto Vallarta’s seaside boardwalk, stands out as a must-visit for travelers seeking an authentic Mexican experience.

This bustling promenade is a sensory delight, offering a kaleidoscope of colors, sounds, and flavors that reflect the city’s warm spirit.

In this guide, I’ll uncover the secrets of Puerto Vallarta’s boardwalk, revealing how to make the most of your visit through leisurely strolls, culinary delights, and explorations of the area’s unique charm.

You can also enjoy the beautiful waters of the Bay of Banderas, its climate, and traditions that will make you want to come back again and again.

Get ready to immerse yourself in the heart and soul of Puerto Vallarta, where every step along the Malecón is an invitation to savor life’s simple pleasures.

Also read: Puerto Vallarta Delights: 12 Activities That Define Your Getaway

The Legendary Malecon of Puerto Vallarta

puerto vallarta boardwalk

Puerto Vallarta’s boardwalk is about 1 mile long and was built in 1936, but in 2011 it was completely remodeled to be a symbolic place of the city during the Pan American Games.

That is why you will see more palm trees and decorative plants, spaces to walk or rest, and spectacular decorations with Huichol motifs on the sidewalks.

Despite having more than 350,000 inhabitants, Puerto Vallarta retains its traditional “Pueblito” appearance thanks to its cobblestone streets and red-tiled houses.

For this reason, it is one of the most visited beach destinations in Mexico, a favorite of the community of painters, artists, actors, and dancers.

Getting to the Boardwalk of Puerto Vallarta

The Puerto Vallarta Malecon is on the west coast of the Pacific in the state of Jalisco, about 30 minutes from Nuevo Vallarta.

The Malecon starts from the Hotel Rosita to the Romantic Zone.

You will enjoy excellent restaurants, hotels, bars, clubs, and golf courses that will make your stay unforgettable.

I guess you are ready to walk and admire the beauty of the sea, get ready because the boardwalk has more surprises for you!

La Zona Romantica

puerto vallarta boardwalk
Zona Romantica street-side cafes and shops

The Romantic Zone of Puerto Vallarta (aka Old Vallarta) is at the southern end of the Malecon and is known as “The most LGBT-friendly Mexican destination” by Forbes magazine.

It also boasts a cozy, warm, and relaxed atmosphere because it preserves its Mexican vibe and flavors.

Also, a lot of attractions such as streets with cafes, restaurants, stores, hotels, boutiques, and trendy bars to spend a moment with your partner.

I recommend having a cup of coffee at a table outdoors and then go to the “tianguis” with colorful street food stalls.

You can also visit the Mural Mosayko, and the different art galleries, taste its excellent gastronomy, and have a delicious cocktail at the Mantamar Club.

Or if you prefer, you can attend the Gay Pride Parade in May, where you will enjoy a variety of concerts, parties, and events.

Things to do and see at the Boardwalk Puerto Vallarta

boardwalk puerto vallarta
During the Day of the Dead celebration

The Puerto Vallarta Malecon has many activities to offer you, I am sure you will love them, here is a list:

  • Try the food at the specialty restaurants: Mexican, French, Italian and Oriental
  • If you like snacks, try some of the street food stalls
  • Visit the various contemporary & Huichol art galleries
  • Buy some souvenirs in the handicraft stores or jewelry stores
  • Pre-shop at the tequila shops and enjoy the nightlife
  • See a show of musicians, dancers, and mimes at the Los Arcos Amphitheater
  • Have fun with the painters and cartoonists who will make your own caricature
  • Don’t forget to see the Voladores de Papantla in front of the Caballito de Mar
  • Enjoy the bronze sculptures in the so-called Museo al aire libre del Malecón
  • Also, delight your pupils with the works of art by Mexican artists in the Plaza de Armas
  • Walk along the traditional beaches: Olas Altas and Playa Los Muertos
  • Stay at a hotel in the Romantic Zone and enjoy its folklore
  • Also, get to know the architecture of the Parish of Our Lady of Guadalupe
  • Don’t forget to visit the Naval Museum and the Chocolate Museum – you’ll love it!

The “Puerto Vallarta” boardwalk letters


These giant letters are the most photographed here. They were inaugurated in 2016 during an event on World Tourism Day.

It is a large sign of colorful letters designed and made by sculptor Carlos Terrés, who also replaced the crown of the PV Parish.

Also, each letter includes the design and decorations of a style of art called naif which includes bright colors, ingenuity, and a free perspective.

This art was designed by Manuel Lepe Macedo, reflecting his love and perspective of the traditions of the people of Puerto Vallarta that he knew.

Finally, you can find them next to the sculpture of the Sea Horse, right in the center of the Boardwalk in Vallarta Jalisco.

The Malecon Arches

puerto vallarta boardwalk

Another must-see attraction of the Puerto Vallarta Malecon is the Arches, a structure of 4 stone arches that mark the starting point of the Malecon.

A variety of shows such as musical performances, dances, orchestras, and mimes are presented here.

The original arches were built during colonial times and brought from a hacienda in Guadalajara.

But nowadays they are a replica because the original ones were lost by Hurricane Kenna in 2002.

Likewise, this replica was made by the artist and sculptor Martín Distancia, together with his assistants Manuel Palos and Martín Yépez in December of the same year.

The Seahorse

caballito de mar puerto vallarta

You may have heard a little about this emblematic sculpture that, without a doubt, you should not miss on your next visit.

It is a beautiful bronze sculpture made by artist Rafael Zamarripa called “El niño sobre el caballo de mar” (The Boy on the Sea Horse) in 1960.

Likewise, this first sculpture was placed in Las Pilitas in Los Muertos Beach, which suffered a great accident when a storm tore it from its base.

Fortunately, it was found and placed in its original place, although there is a larger replica, which you will find on the boardwalk.

Therefore, it is part of the artistic legacy of the city since it is the first of many sculptures placed on Vallarta’s boardwalk.

This is a figure approximately 3 mt tall, where the hippocampus symbolizes the sea and the child is a reflection of hope looking to the future.

In addition, his smile and arm represent a sign of welcome and the charro hat, the culture and traditions of Mexico, more specifically Jalisco.

Admire the outdoor artwork

puerto vallarta boardwalk sculptures
Beautiful sculptures throughout the Boardwalk

If you are an art lover, keep reading because in this section I will tell you more about the sculptures you will see along the Malecon.

Besides “El caballito de mar” you will find works such as “Nostalgia” by José Ramírez Barquet, representing the love of a couple looking at the horizon.

The “Triton and Mermaid” by Carlos Espino inaugurated in 1987, is a sculpture of Greek mythology representing the sea.

Another interesting sculpture is the “Unicorn of Good Fortune” made by Aníbal Riebeling, who wanted to capture an amulet for abundance and good luck.

At the seashore, you will find “El Milenio,” a work of Félix Fernando Baños López where you can appreciate the evolution of humans.

You can also see the “Fountain of Friendship,” an iconic work by sculptor James Bottoms, or “Nature as Mother” by Jalisco artist Adrián Reynoso.

Let’s not forget Sergio Bustamante’s “En búsqueda de la razón” and “Rotunda del amor” by Alejandro Colunga, as they are favorites among tourists.

Without a doubt, admiring each one of the sculptures on the boardwalk is one of the best things to do during your visit, tell me which one is your favorite.

Los Muertos Beach & Pier

los muertos beach and pier puerto vallarta

Near the Malecon Puerto Vallarta, you can’t miss the beautiful Los Muertos Beach, don’t be scared by its name! It is a place full of life.

It is known as the Beach of the Dead because the ancient Indians considered it a sacred cemetery.

When actual residents began to build on the beach, they found some remains of human bones and pieces of pottery. Wow!

Today, however, you can see beautiful sunset views from its new pier, which opened in 2013 and is almost 200 meters long.

This pier is used for small boats to dock, its shape is very attractive because it is similar to a candle that lights up at night.

If you want to take a tour or do some aquatic activity, you can go to the pier and ask about excursions, from here they go anywhere.

Visit the Temple of Our Lady of Guadalupe

puerto vallarta boardwalk church

Another iconic attraction near the boardwalk is the Temple of Our Lady of Guadalupe, which is admired for its architecture.

It was founded in front of the Malecón between 1903 and 1918, where the first part of the structure was developed and built.

The façade and the central tower of four bodies were built in 1950 and throughout the century more towers and the main organ were added.

On the other hand, the crown was designed with concrete in 1965 by the sculptor J. Esteban Ramírez Guareño, in which eight angels can be seen holding it.

You can admire its beautiful architecture because it preserves some works of art such as the marble altar of the Virgin painted by Ignacio Ramirez.

This impressive temple is located near the Municipal Palace, in front of the Plaza de Armas (Main Square), which has a viewpoint where musical performances are held at night.

Puerto Vallarta Boardwalk: Where to eat?

joe jack's fish shack
Tony, at Joe Jack’s, makes the best cocktails in town

The Malecon is the heart of town where you will find endless options for eating, drinking, dancing, and more.

From world-class restaurants like the acclaimed Cafe Des Artistes to local street stalls selling typical Mexican foods and snacks.

However, my favorite place of all time is Joe Jacks’s Fish Shack, in the Romantic Zone. They have the best bar and service, and the menu is outstanding. Try it!

Other activities on the Puerto Vallarta Malecón

You may still have a lot of energy left and want to do more activities on the Puerto Vallarta Boardwalk, so here are some more ideas:

  • If you like heights, you can take a parachute ride on the beach
  • Practice some water sports such as swimming with dolphins, scuba diving, or snorkeling
  • Enjoy a boat, sailboat, or catamaran ride for whale watching (Dec-Apr)
  • Also, take a cultural ride on a quad bike or horseback
  • Learn about sport fishing, ride a zip line, or go on a Dunne Buggy
  • If you prefer something more exciting, attend a themed dinner aboard a pirate ship
  • Stroll through the Cuale River’s market
  • Explore a silver workshop and take a course in printmaking, sculpture, music, or painting
  • Finally, do some shopping while walking and listening to live music

The best beaches near the Boardwalk

There is no doubt that Vallarta’s boardwalk has the most beautiful beaches in Jalisco, although the favorite among tourists is Playa Los Muertos.

However, there are also other beautiful beaches you can visit such as Playa Olas Altas, Playa Conchas Chinas, Playa Amapas, or Playa Las Caletas.

Puerto Vallarta Boardwalk: Conclusion

Experiencing Puerto Vallarta’s boardwalk is a multi-faceted journey that seamlessly blends relaxation, culinary delights, and cultural exploration.

As you embark on your stroll along the Malecón, take the time to savor the vibrant atmosphere, indulge in local flavors, and immerse yourself in the diverse art installations and performances that line the path.

From the stunning ocean views to the lively street vendors, Puerto Vallarta’s boardwalk offers a rich tapestry of experiences that cater to every traveler’s preferences.

So, whether you’re a food enthusiast, an art lover, or someone seeking a leisurely seaside escape, the Malecón is sure to captivate your senses and leave you with lasting memories of this enchanting destination.

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