Vacations envisioned in tropical destinations usually include romantic beach scenes, or for the family oriented, large sandy “playgrounds” upon which children can live out their dreams one shovel full at a time. Sand has been a common thread throughout movies, books, and photo shoots all portraying the idealistic way to live and relax, being one with sun, land and sea. The tactile sensation of running your hands or toes through sand when dry, molding it into anything your image conjures when wet, has long been the basis for hours of play on beaches through out the world.

Here in Puerto Vallarta it is no different. The Bay of Banderas defines thirty five miles of sandy “heaven” for vacationers and locals alike to frolic and create in one of nature’s complete playgrounds. With seven months of rain free days from November to May, the High Season provides the perfect climate for those more skilled at the art of “sand castles” to hone their craft and become true artisans.

During the peak, high traffic season of tourism, the beach area along the Malecon in the center of town be comes a canvas of large proportion. Pails, scoops, spatulas, spray bottles, melon ballers, and masonry tools of every size and shape are visible to those who stroll along the promenade. Images are usually of religious or spiritual nature, and of nature itself, and become the subject of some of the most gifted and talented sand sculptors in the world. The creative endeavor also becomes a performance art of sorts.  These “masters of the sand” crawl, pat, and gouge their way to detailed, ornate, finished sculptures that are usually created in front of hundreds of onlookers daily.

Make sure to catch them off and on through out your stay as no matter how much “fixative” is applied, mother nature always wins out, and the creation returns back to “sand”. There in lies the inherent beauty of the craft. From those same grains of sand, another master piece will arise, speaking to an entirely different audience…etching a “visual” into the minds of those who take time to enjoy one of Puerto Vallarta’s most unique attractions.

-Malcolm Farley

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