Puerto Vallarta is a great resort city of around 300,000 people along the Pacific the coast in the Bay of Banderas in southern Mexico.
Our family went for 8 great days of vacation in mid April and had a great mix of quiet by the pool as well as site seeing and even an ocean snorkeling boat trip.
One of the great days we had though was travelling out to the central part of town known as the Malecon.
There are two parts of Puerto Vallarta as the tourists would see them. There is an older resort area just known as Puerto Vallarta and a newer set of resorts to the north known by many as Nuevo Vallarta.
We stayed in the older area at a resort called Canto del Sol. This was our central location and seemed to be nice and close to everything.
How To Get To the Malecon
For our day out in town we took a bus to the Malecon. We could have walked but we worry about our daughter after her Kidney Transplant being too tired to really make her way through the late afternoon.
Busses in Puerto Vallarta are cheap 7.5 pesos per trip which is around 50 cents or so. The hotel was able to tell us which bus to take and we just walked a block or so to get to the main street and bus stop.
Everytime we left the resort there were plenty of people offering to part us from our money for some excursion or another. State of affairs in a poorer country with relatively rich tourists I guess.
The bus trip to the Malecon was about 15 minutes or so. Really quickly we were there and just followed the crowd of tourists off the bus and a block down the cobblestone road to the very commercial beachfront boardwalk.
The Malecon is probably 10 block or so long and is a mixture of shops restaurants, bars, and beach. One other really great things to see on the beach side were all of the really great sand sculptures that people have made and ask for just some kind of change to take pictures of. I love this bit of entrepreneurship on the part of locals for some really intricate pieces made entirely of sand.
There are a ton of shops selling all sorts of tourist souvenirs in every price range. We got a couple of blankets for $10 each or so and beaded ornaments. Just as we thought we were almost done shopping though we got caught in the clutches of a timeshare salesman.
I will leave that story for another article but just be warned that Mexico as a country has many ways for you to spend or save money.
Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe
Just past the end of the Malecon is a street that leads up three blocks to the Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
This was one of the places that my wife was really looking forward to seeing and amazingly when we stopped by there was an afternoon Mass going on.
Right now there is some fundraising being done at the church to try and pay to do some renovations, but you would never know by the beauty of the church and definitely there was a lot of interest and people around sightseeing.
This Catholic Church is beautiful and is a big hit with tourists with people (like us) peering in and taking pictures.
Please be aware though that this a real church with Mass and is not just a museum. The church was completed in 1921 and was a source of some great conversations between my son and I afterwards.
Where Does The Malecon End?
I think that the Malecon really ends at the Seahorse statue but I am no cartographer so maybe not.
Further down the beach past the Malecon is a bit of a less touristy but more interesting bit of beach area.
There are still shops and hotels but eventually you happen upon the Muelle de Playa Los Muertos.
This sculpture is very interesting looking. I think it is supposed to be sails but it is great to look at and the walk around it is interesting, especially when you start on the walkway back towards the beach and you see a great looking vista of hotels and shops.
Pretty to say the least.
One thing that really struck us was the temperature change. Of course when you are at the water the temperature is really nice but just a few block away and it seems the temperature just rockets up 10 or 15 degrees. If there is no breeze off the ocean it gets hot really quick.
Watch For Salespeople Of All Kinds
Around this area we stopped to get frozen yogurt and it seems that once you stop moving the travelling salesman are even more aggressive.
We had found that when we were at the hotel beach that guys would come by and ask if you were looking for an excursion, or a hat, or sunglasses, or silver, or anything else it seems. But once you said no things would be ok.
When sitting outside a restaurant, in town though, I think we had someone come by every 30 seconds or so. Finally my daughter got mad about this and would say NO, loud and a bit rude.
The fellow that was the subject of her wrath simply said “stupido” and turned around and walked away, there were plenty more tourists around to sell too.
Sometimes You Don’t See It All
One thing that is a real tourist attraction and apparently very busy is the flea market which is situated just a few blocks from the Malecon, we drove by in a cab on our way back to the hotel but we did not actually visit 🙁 as our daughter was just to pooped from all the walking and hot from being out for so long.
With the excitement of busses – especially for my 12 year old son who has never been on a bus besides a school bus, it was strange to him to have the bus driver apparently making the road rules up as he went along, standing up and holding on tight as we maneuvered around corners at high speed.
We did on the other hand take a couple of taxis. I don’t think there is Uber but the taxi was only 50 or 60 pesos to get anywhere is seemed, this is only about $4 or so, cheap for a family of four for sure.
I know that many people in our resort went to the Malecon a few times, it It was a nice trip for us once but I am sure the nightlife there is a lot of fun every night of the week for the younger people and couples with no kids.
The great thing about the whole downtown Puerto Vallarta area to me was that it seems to be very safe, not too busy, and a nice break. Staying in a resort means that you only get to see a small part of an area. I love that whenever we go away we make sure to get out a bit.
This was a great small opportunity to get into a more open area of Puerto Vallarta without getting into the poorer residential areas.