Beaches & Lagoons
Inseparable from the jarocho (Veracruz) identity is the beach. You’ll find pleasant stretches of beach all the way down through Boca del Río. As a rule of thumb, the further from the oil rigs the better, but locals can be seen enjoying them all.
Alternatively, you can find lanchas (M$110 Monday to Thursday and M$150 Friday to Sunday) by the aquarium that will take you to Cancuncito, a sandbar off the coast touted as the best beach in Veracruz, with light sand and clear water. Another part of the lancha beat is the Isla de Sacrificios, an island once used for Totonac human sacrifice and later as a leper colony. It’s now part of a protected nature and marine reserve called Parque Marino Nacional Sistema Arrecifal Veracruzano. Sometimes, when tourism is low, lanchas aren’t to be found, but harbor-tour boats stop there on some tours.
Some 11km from the center, the gritty, off-shoot town of Boca del Río has a smattering of brightly colored seafood restaurants overlooking the mouth of the river on Blvd Camacho. Lanchas offering boat tours to mangrove forests leave from here. Over the bridge, the coastal road continues about 8km further down the coast from Boca del Río to Mandinga, known for its seafood (especially langostinos bicolores – two-colored prawns), where you can hire a boat (from the zona de restaurantes) to take you around mangrove lagoons rich with wildlife.
Paseo del Malecón & Boulevard
Veracruz' harbor is a busy oil port with rigs off the coast. While this is unlikely to please tourists' tropical-beach-holiday desires, it does somehow add to the gritty romanticism of the waterfront walk on the malecón (harbor boardwalk). Start at the Mercado de Artesanías and its rows of vendor stalls selling a kaleidoscope of souvenirs. Here you’ll pass the high-rise Pemex building, which is an early example of modern Mexican architecture and has some interesting murals.
Heading south, the malecón becomes a wide pedestrian walkway called the bulevar (pronounced ‘boo-ley-bar’). Following the coast, it stretches south for roughly 8km, and along the way it passes lighthouse piers, statues of famous government figures, and monuments to the city’s defenders and sailors who died at sea. Two notable statues are the statue of the Spanish emigrant, celebrating Veracruz' role as a disembarkation point for immigrants, and the statue of Alexander Von Humboldt, the German naturalist/explorer who visited the area in 1803–04 and collected important information about the flora and indigenous cultures. All these statues are found within a few hundred meters of the port and city center.
Two blocks inland from the malecón is the 1998 Altar a la Patria, an obelisk marking the buried remains of those who defended Veracruz during its numerous conflicts.