Aptly nicknamed the “Mexican Galapagos,” Islas Marietas is a volcanic island chain in the azure waters of Banderas Bay. Here, you’ll find 100+ species of exotic birds & fish, unbelievable snorkeling, & the romantic “Hidden Beach,” Playa del Amor.
Behold the “Hidden Beach” & Ecological Oasis of Islas Marietas
It’s difficult to say that any one place is the top sight to see in Riviera Nayarit, but high atop the list certainly sits the Marietas Islands, or “Mexican Galapagos.” Cherished by legendary oceanographer Jacques Cousteau, this dramatic chain of volcanic islands teems with over 100 species of birds and fish you won’t see anywhere else, along with seasonal humpback whales (December-March), dolphins, and manta rays. As for the landscape, it’s nothing short of magnificent. Jagged rock formations, waterline caves and craters rise toward flowing seas of green grass and tropical plant life, surrounded by bright blue waters boasting what’s considered by many to be the best snorkeling in Banderas Bay.
The Otherworldly Wonder of Playa del Amor
For the full Islas Marietas experience, you simply have to visit the “Hidden Beach,” Playa del Amor. Never has man’s destruction of a place been so breathtaking, as bombs dropped by the Mexican military in the early 1900s created the magically romantic “Beach of Love.” Essentially, the blast blew a hole in the island, revealing what had been a sea cave and underground beach. Now, it’s one of the most surreal stretches of sand on the planet, limited to 30-minute visits from a maximum of 116 people a day. Accessible only from the water when the tide is low, visitors must be strong swimmers who are at least 12 years old, weighing no more than 260 pounds (118kg).
Family-Friendly Tour Options
If traveling with children under the age of 12 or visiting Playa del Amor isn’t a top priority, consider booking Vallarta Adventures’ Marietas Eco Discovery Tour instead, complete with snorkeling, kayaking, live entertainment, a lunch buffet, and open bar.