A malecon is a seafront promenade where people enjoy strolling, jogging, biking, or just breathing fresh ocean air. There is one in Mazatlán, Mexico, where we spend our winters. But I have never been able to walk the full length of it in one go. At 13 miles, it is considered to be the longest in Latin America.
A trip to the Mazatlán Malecon treats anyone, not only to glorious sunsets, exotic islandscales, and enchanting sea views. It gives you Mazatlán in a nutshell with monuments and nearby landmarks around four beaches. There is also a host of eating places, lodging options, and great shops. On festive holidays when it’s closed to vehicle traffic, the Malecon becomes a great party zone.
The main boardwalk is over 30 feet wide at its broadest with a separate biking lane, rental bike stations, and even free Wi-Fi. During the days of the Carnaval, which runs along Avenida del Mar and hugs the Malecon, huge monigotes (puppets) make it even more colorful. It stretches about 7 miles from south of the Zona Turistica (Tourist Zone) to the edge of the Zona Dorada (Golden Zone) — the famous shopping district. Anyone can “conquer” this boardwalk in three sections. Beyond this main boardwalk, it goes farther north as walkable beaches behind resorts.
South Of Zona Dorada
The Playa Norte Beach, a long stretch of uncrowded tan sand, begins at the southern edge of the shopping district. And it is also where the Letras de Mazatlán ushers you to two monuments and three nearby landmarks. Almost all Mexican towns have colorful markers like this but this one is impressive against the sea. Since it was inaugurated in 2018, most tourists go home with a souvenir photo at this stop.
Actually, a few steps before this sign is a stunning landmark called Valentino’s. It is a mystical structure commonly used to grace the beachfront in many works of art. A Moorish-style palace, it was a disco icon of the ‘70s and ‘80s, equipped with the most advanced special effects and selections of music. After financial struggles in the past, it’s slowly experiencing a rebirth.
And just a few yards after the sign comes the Malecon’s first monument. Designed by Antonio Saenz Lopez, this lovely bronze sculpture, The Family Monument, was meant to welcome the 2000s. It depicts a small tightly knit Mazatlecan family: a father, mother, and child looking out to and brimming with great optimism for the arrival of the new millennium.
Also designed by Saenz Lopez, The Monument to the Baseball Player completes this stop. The Venados de Mazatlán (Mazatlán Deer) is the beloved baseball team of the city, a member of the prestigious Mexican Pacific League, which selects the Mexican representative to compete for the Latin American title. Interestingly, this monument overlooks a nearby city landmark: the 16,000-seat Teodoro Mariscal Baseball Stadium, home to the Mazatlán Deer and just a short block from the Avenida del Mar.
Pro Tip: Also a short block from the Avenida, a little farther south, stands The Acuario, the Mazatlán aquarium that offers popular shows featuring sea lions, divers, and even sharks.
Around Fisherman’s Pier
This section is towards the southern part of Playa Norte and into the next two small beaches: Playa Marlin and Playa los Pinos. This is where tunnels connect the beach to hotels across the street, many palapas grace the beach to offer inexpensive food and drinks, and a short stretch of fine sand, shallow water, and small waves attract “grandparents and grandchildren.” But the main feature is the fisherman’s pier where many colorful boats sell their catch early in the morning and lots of pretty birds flock. It is also home to four monuments.
The first is the distinctive Pulmonia Monument, one of the most iconic symbols of Mazatlán. Resembling a souped-up golf cart, it’s of a life-size open “taxi,” the signature transport option in Mazatlán. It’s named Pulmonia because, being open to strong winter winds, riding in one may actually give you pneumonia.
Following the Pulmonia is a tribute to the California sea lions that make a small rocky island — now an ecological reserve on the Sea of Cortez — their home every winter. Almost every winter boat tour out of Mazatlan makes this island a stop. The Sea Lion Monument depicts five life-sized sea lions: a large prominent male on a rocky rise with four others surrounding him.
Afterward, we come upon the large, imposing Fisherman’s Monument and Fountain located before you reach the fisherman’s pier. Sculpted by Rodolfo Becerra Gomez, it celebrates Mazatlán’s heritage as a fishing center. It features a man and woman, and a tall structure representing El Faro (the city’s famous lighthouse).
The Mazatleca Woman, unveiled in 1983, completes this stop. It salutes the city’s women who are reputed to be some of the most beautiful in the world. She has outstretched arms, and at her base are the names of Mazatlán personalities like Lola Beltran, the famous Mexican singer from El Rosario — the outskirts of Mazatlán.
Pro Tip: Continuing south, before reaching the Olas Altas, you will find the Old Mazatlán Sign that still graces a children’s plaza across from the Malecon.
This section was the early center of tourism in Mazatlán until the Zona Dorada became popular. In December 2021, the city inaugurated, at the start of this section of the Maelocon, the Beatles Callejon with bronze statues of the Beatles crossing Liverpool Alley. This short street starts from Avenida del Mar and features a red London phone booth, a classic red British car, a replica of the Cavern Club, and even a yellow submarine!
Right in front of the Beatles is a roundabout where the Deer Monument stands. It’s a bronze sculpture of a spirited young buck honoring the Indigenous roots of Mazatlán, which literally means “Land of the Deer.” At the end of Olas Altas, on another roundabout, you see the Monument to the Shield of Sinaloa (mosaic, on the side facing north) and Mazatlán (on the other side).
But the prized feature of this section is Playa Olas Altas, or “Beach of the Big Waves.” During the rainy summer season, it is not suited for swimming, but it attracts surfers and tourists from around the world because of its beautiful waves. At its northern end, there is an enclosed, public saltwater pool called La Carpa Olivera that local families particularly enjoy.
And then we come upon the magnificent monument highlighting dolphins jumping out of and into the water with a man and woman calling out to them. It’s called The Continuity of Life Monument, symbolizing the beginning and end of life and celebrating not only balance in life but also respect for nature.
Finally, at the end of this section of the main boardwalk, a monument pays tribute to the Mexican superstar, singer, and actor Pedro Infante (1917–1957). Erected in 2004, The Pedro Infante Monument shows him on a motorcycle reminiscent of his famous 1951 movie A Todo Máquin. It also celebrates Mazatlán’s Motorcycle Week, held annually around Easter time.
Beyond this last monument, we reach the Punta de Clavadistas or “Divers’ Point.” That’s where divers regale a usual throng of onlookers, jumping from the 50-foot cliff, avoiding huge rocks, plunging into the water, swimming against big waves hitting the rocks, and returning to the small park to do it all over again — all for a few pesos.
Pro Tip: A short Pulmonia taxi ride east of the Malecon or a walk on several blocks of colonial buildings is the famous Centro Historico featuring the Mazatlán Basilica, the popular Mercado Pino Suarez, and the gathering area Plaza Machado with the Angela Peralta Theater.
Where To Eat, Stay, And Shop At The Malecon
Besides the palapas along the beach where you can get fresh and inexpensive fish, shrimp and beer, there are also two great beach restaurants on the middle section of the Malecon: Restaurante Playa Norte and El Muchacho Alegre. A lot more eating places are across Avenida del Mar, especially in the Olas Altas section. Across from the Malecon is a line of private condominiums and hotels, beginning as low as $29 a night. There are 4-star hotels averaging over $110 a night and 2-and-3-star hotels averaging over $80 a night. The boardwalk is also lined with many mobile souvenir kiosks. Many souvenir, beach essentials, and convenience stores are also interspersed among the hotels, condominiums, and restaurants.
Pro Tips: Hotel Miramar is the name of the private condominium on the Malecon where El Chapo was arrested by U.S. Navy Seals. And Hotel Hacienda was where we rented two seats on a temporarily-raised platform to watch the Carnaval in 2018.
A visit to Mazatlán would never be complete without a walk along the 7 miles of the Malecon main boardwalk. Stay there and exercise, sightsee, swim, learn about the city’s history, values, and traditions, take souvenir photos, shop, and eat — all in one place! As I said in the beginning, it’s Mazatlán in a nutshell!
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