The Islas Marietas are one of the main tourist attractions of Puerto Vallarta. It is a series of islets made up thousands of years ago by volcanic explosions and currently visited by travelers from all around the world seeking for aquatic adventures. In 2005 the Islas Marietas were named as a National Park and proclaimed Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in 2008. These islands are part of a Protected Natural Area that hosts a large number of marine birds, and every winter, from mid-December to March, become the temporary home of the majestic humpback whales that arrive from the cold north looking for warmer waters.
The Islas Marietas are located in Bahia de Banderas, on the Pacific coast, halfway of the estates of Nayarit and Jalisco; nearly 22 miles from Puerto Vallarta and almost 17 miles from Nuevo Vallarta. You can get there on a boat, although the most recommended is to hire a catamaran to the Islas Marietas that includes a guide and services such as meals, drinks, snorkel equipment, kayaks and even paddle boards. Remember that this is one of the most visited zones in Puerto Vallarta; therefore it is advisable to book in advance your excursion to the Islas Marietas.
Things to do in the Islas Marietas
During your visit to these stunning islands, you’ll have the chance to choose from a great variety of aquatic activities. Snorkel to discover the submarine world of the Bahia de Banderas as you marvel at multicolor fish and coral reefs bustling with life. And with a bit of luck, you might gaze turtles and adorable dolphins chasing embarkations. But, if you are willing to experience an extreme adventure, don’t miss the opportunity to practice sport fishing! Try your skills and catch a delicious tuna, a mahi-mahi or a giant swordfish.
On the contrary, if you prefer a quiet activity, the Islas Marietas are the perfect spot for bird watching as they are home to a huge variety of species, including the brown booby and the exotic blue-footed booby, this last exclusively native of the Elizabeth Bay in the Galapagos Islands, the western coasts of Peru and Chile, and of course, this archipelago in the Gulf of California.
In the winter season, it is very likely for you to witness one of the most beautiful natural events of the bay: the arrival of the humpback whales. The whale watching takes place every year in the Bahia de Banderas from mid-December to late March which is when the coasts of the Pacific receive the blessed visit of small groups of the largest rorquals in the ocean for mating and give birth to their young.
Discover the Beach of Love during your vacations in Puerto Vallarta
Undoubtedly, the Beach of Love or Hidden Beach is one of the best-kept treasures in the Pacific coast and the main attraction of the Islas Marietas. Like its name suggests, this beach is hidden inside a cave featuring an opening to the marvelous firmament of Vallarta. The Beach of Love or Hidden Beach is a natural beauty that can be reached by swimming through a rocky tunnel only when the tide allows it. This place is also considered a Protected Natural Area, and a couple of years ago the Islas Marietas National Park took the decision to close indefinitely due to the great volume of visitors and the negative impact to the ecosystem, especially to the coral reefs.
After a long but successful restoration process, the Islas Marietas reopened their doors to tourism, although under certain restrictions to avoid damaging the zone. Now, the Hidden Beach only allows entry to a limited number of visitors per day and with a maximum stay of 30 minutes. In spite of the controlled access, you can still enjoy its magical atmosphere as long as you be conscious of its care and the respect that this wonderful place deserves.
With so much to do at the Islas Marietas, your only worry now will be to save the date for those well-earned vacations in Puerto Vallarta.