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In Pictures: Enjoying the show on Puerto Vallarta’s malecón
By Tom Adkinson
December 30, 2022

PUERTO VALLARTA, Mexico – The show never ends on the Puerto Vallarta Malecón, the mile-long seaside promenade in the heart of this Pacific Coast resort city – and there’s no cover charge. On one side is the blue water of Banderas Bay, with pelicans flying in formation, jet skis zipping about and cruise ships gliding in and out of port. On the other side is an eye-popping conglomeration of restaurants, bars (two-for-one margaritas almost everywhere), handicraft and souvenir shops, vendors and tour sales agents. In the middle are walkers, gawkers, joggers, cyclists, a collection of difficult to understand sculptures and plenty of folks who don’t care how they look in tank tops or tourist t-shirts. Fireworks over the water brighten every evening. All of it is a visual blast.

‘Vallarta Dancers’

puerto vallarta
“Vallarta Dancers” is a colorful work by American sculptor Jim Demetro, who donated it to the city of Puerto Vallarta. It is one of the most photographed – and most realistic – of the many sculptures along the Malecón. Several other sculptures are flights of fancy that are amusing but difficult to understand. Image by Tom Adkinson

‘I’ll trade hats with you’

puerto villarta vendor
“I’ll trade hats with you” is the come-on line this hat vendor used time and time again to get walkers on the Malecón to pause for a longer pitch. All along the promenade, solo vendors offer hats, jewelry and other small souvenirs. Bigger items overflow from numerous shops. Image by Tom Adkinson

‘Meet me at the pier’

puerto villarta pier
A couple walks on the beach beside the Malecón and next to a pier where a few anglers cast their lines and where water taxis pick up passengers for rides to stops along Banderas Bay. Image by Tom Adkinson

Shades of blue and green

banderas bay tour boat
The fronds of a palm tree at the edge of the Malecón frame a tour boat on Banderas Bay. Walkers on the Malecón can while time away watching boats and sometimes spying a whale’s spout not too far from the beach. Image by Tom Adkinson

A stairway to heaven . . . sort of

in search of reason sculpture
A mom holds on to one child while another climbs the ladder of a Malecón sculpture called “In Search of Reason.” The sculpture is by Mexican artist Sergio Bustamante. Image by Tom Adkinson

A symbol of Puerto Vallarta

Boy on the Seahorse sculpture
“The Boy on the Seahorse” sculpture along the Malecón has become a symbol for Puerto Vallarta. The sculpture passersby see today is the second version of this piece. The first was in a different beach area and was toppled by a hurricane. Sculptor Rafael Zamarripa fulfilled the request to create a replacement. Image by Tom Adkinson

Making a splash

malecon waves
Waves crash into parts of the seawall beside the Malecón, while there is a sandy beach in other locations. Daring surfers sometimes provide extra entertainment to strollers on the Malecón. Image by Tom Adkinson

Load up your casual wardrobe

puerto vallarta shopping
Shops filled with t-shirts, sweatshirts, hoodies, hats, caps and more are abundant along with Malecón. Much of the apparel promotes Puerto Vallarta, although some of the t-shirts offer good humor ("To fish, or not to fish . . . is a stupid question") and political commentary. Some, of course, are not suitable gifts for your pastor or grandmother. Image by Tom Adkinson

Trip-planning resources:

(Travel writer Tom Adkinson’s book, 100 Things To Do in Nashville Before You Die, is available on

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