Havana is a fantastic city to indulge in a bit of people watching. One area that is especially good for this is the Malecón, a seawall that goes for 8km along the coast of Havana. Its original purpose was to protect the city from possible rising waters but today it also serves a secondary purpose: a place for people to hang out! You’ll come across people catching a tender moment together, friends chatting away, fishermen fishing, children playing games, solitary people enjoying the sea air, daredevils jumping off the wall into the sea, and possibly various transactions of all sorts taking place. Locals seem to be used to random tourists in the area so you won’t feel out of place as you wander down the wall soaking it all in.
The Malecón was built between 1901 and 1959 and looking around the area, it feels that old. The surrounding architecture tends to be on the more rundown side of things. However, it’s more characterful than ugly, especially with all the various faded colours that adorn the buildings. Also, being so close to the sea, the salt air must wreak havoc on the architecture which explains some of the rundown atmosphere. If you walk far enough along the wall, you’ll find various items of interest, including a statue of José Martí and the Hotel Nacional (a famous Havana hotel).
A meander along the Malecón is highly recommended, especially if you love people or love photography. An hour or two along the wall will provide you plenty of opportunities to mingle and/or exercise your shutter finger. It really is a fantastic way to spend part of an afternoon. While I can’t really recommend jumping off the wall into the sea, why not chat with random folks if that’s your thing? Or more my thing, take some photographs and rest for a while with a book as the sea crashes in the background and your nose fills with the salty air…
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You can now download all my Havana articles on to your smartphone or tablet with the GPSmyCity app; for a small upgrade fee, you will be able to read them offline as well as get a city map with GPS directions! Pretty neat, eh