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The Malecon

The Malecon is the Heart Jewel of the town, the historic center and its main man-made tourist draw, a one mile long seawall promenade or boardwalk that stretches the length of downtown Vallarta from the Cuale River at the south end to the Hotel Rosita in the north, some 15-16 city blocks. Near the south end of this waterfront boulevard is the large outdoor amphitheater Los Arcos (the Arches) where entertainment and many outdoor attractions occur such as the Xiutla folkloric dancers, live music, cultural events and the ever popular clown shows in the evening. Strolling north, one passes numerous Puerto Vallarta landmarks, attractions and statues including one of this beach town`s most beloved pieces, the Friendship Fountain, with it`s three dolphins by sculptor James Bottoms which was donated to PV by Santa Barbara in 1987 (notice the boy in the traditional Huichol/Cora Indian clothes on the left in the Fountain photo. Then there`s the famous nine-foot high statue of the youth riding The Sea Horse, a Puerto Vallarta symbol. Sculpted by Rafael Zamarripa, this beauty has stood for over 35 years in the central part of the Malecon since 1976.

So there is quite a collection of beautiful public artwork along this boardwalk walkway, untouched by spray paint. In fact, the amount of top-notch art on public display makes the town outstanding among tourist destinations in Mexico. During the day and into the early evening one can also find local artists painting and displaying their watercolors for sale. There are also a good number of restaurants (Mariscos Tino`s, Cerveceria Union, La Chata, Lo Dolce Vita, Paradise Burger, Senor Frogs and Mi Querencia, a relatively new downtown restaurant, to name a few), eaters and taquerias in the Malecon El Centro area, hundreds of stores, gift shops and boutiques, as well as many first rate Vallarta art galleries.

One of the more popular additions to the Puerto Vallarta Malecon, the sculpture In Search of Reason by Guadalajara artist Sergio Bustamante, has two pillow-head figures ascending their ladder to the sky. People love to climb this one and have their picture taken. Then there is the recently placed group of strange abstract bronze figures by Alejandro Colunga entitled The Rotunda of the Sea with its half human, half alien sea or space creatures. One must see, then sit on them as they are half in the shape of chairs and tables, to experience their off effect on the senses.

Tapatio Adrian Reynoso`s unique blend of bronze and polymer resins, Nature As Mother, a spiraling wave on a snail appears next on the walk north. At last we come to the bronze sculpture of the hetero couple in love immortalized in La Nastolgia, a Puerto Vallarta landmark since 1984 by Ramiz Barquet, which I adore. Barquet (1920-2010) has more public art on display in this beach town than any other Puerto Vallarta artist.

At the north end of El malecon in Puerto Vallarta is the local fishermen`s open market, where fresh fish caught the night before can be bought at a good price. Just past that end of the boardwalk and down the short half block to the beach by the Hotel Rosita is the 2001 sculpture The Milleniums by Mathis Lidice.

Location: Paseo Diaz Ordaz, Centro, 48300 Puerto Vallarta, Jal., Mexico

Marina Vallarta

One of the major attractions in Puerto Vallarta, Marina Vallarta is a self-contained stretch of boardwalk, white sand and retail outlets that has become so well-known for its beauty and success that it was a model for its sister cities of Cabo, Mazatlan, Ixtapa and Cancun. Easily identifiable by its large, 450-slip marina and lush 18-hole golf course, Marina Vallarta`s main attraction is its beautiful promenade, whereupon you`ll find numerous boutique beachfront shops and restaurants, including a lighthouse that makes for great viewing of the bay.

Location: Marina Vallarta 48450 Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco Mexico

Marieta Island

The small, uninhabited Marietas Islands are located in the Bay of Banderas off Mexico`s Pacific coast, Making up a UNESCO listed biosphere reserve, the islands are famous for their abundant wildlife and provide a chance to escape the crowds of many Mexican beach resorts, hop on a boat and explore the islands` natural delights.

The islands are a haven for creatures such as dolphins, manta rays, humpback whales, sea turtles and blue-footed boobies. Boat tours allow you to see the wildlife, but visitors are only allowed to set foot on one area of the government-protected islands, a strip of sand dubbed the Hidden Beach. Snorkeling and scuba diving tours from Puerto Vallarta are the most popular ways to experience the islands and their coral reef, while whale-watching tours also run in the winter.

Things to Know Before You Go:
  • Diving and snorkeling tours typically last three to five hours, but some longer options include other activities such as kayaking.
  • Diving tours often require PADI certification, if you are not certified, look for a beginner option.
  • There is a cap on the number of daily visitors, so book your tour in advance.
Location: Marieta Islands, Mexico

Zona Romantica

This Romantic Zone of Puerto Vallarta is also called the Old Town or south side of the city. With lively cantinas, restaurants and a newly reconstructed pier, the area of winding cobblestone streets does indeed have an air of romance. White homes with red tile roofs and views of the blue bay add to the ambiance.

You`ll also find a unique range of artisan shops and Mexican art. Set away from the hotel zone, it maintains a bit more of a traditional, laid-back feel from the rest of the city. On the weekends, you can find the Old Farmer`s Market full of local produce and food products, as well as handicrafts. If you`re in the mood for some time at the beach, the beautiful Playa Los Muertos is steps away. It is a place to escape the more crowded areas and soak in a bit of Mexican culture.

Location: Emiliano Zapata, 48399 Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, Mexico

Vallarta Botanical Garden

The Vallarta Botanical Garden is a 64-acre (26 ha) botanical garden featuring beautiful hiking trails both through the native forest and the manicured garden gounds. Visitors are also welcome to swim in the Rio Horcones, the tropical river that borders the property. Bird watchers will find the most birding activity early in the morning or later in the day.
br /> Location: Carret, Barra De Navidad Km. 24, Las Juntas y los eranos, 48447, Jalisco, Mexico


Yelapa is a small beach town in Cabo Corrientes, Jalisco, Mexico. The village lies in the southernmost cove of the world`s seventh largest bay, Bahia de Banderas.

Location:Yelapa, Jalisco, Mexico
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