Marieta Islands Guide: Whales, Dolphins & Hidden Beaches

1.49min read

Published 13 April 2021


The Marieta Islands are a group of uninhabited islands about a one-hour boat ride from either Puerto Vallarta or Riviera Nayarit known for its breathtaking landscapes, wildlife and hidden cave beach.


Dolphins, sea turtles and schools of colourful fish can be spotted here year-round, while humpback whales make appearances in the bay during the winter months. The serene nature and wildlife of the protected Las Islas Marietas National Park is a draw for visitors, but the hidden cave beach is an even bigger draw for adventure enthusiasts who can’t resist making the swim to Playa de Amor, a secret beach tucked below the surface of the island. The only catch is, there’s only one way to get there. You’re going to have to swim for it.


Join a tour, so you don’t have to attempt to boat there yourself. Your guide will navigate the water currents which are known to be somewhat choppy and will be able to help point you in the right direction. When it’s time to hop out of your boat, garbed out in a life vest and helmet, you’re going to go through a short tunnel and swim from about 200 metres. You’ll have about five or six feet of space above you at all times. With that being said, try to plan your excursion during low tide.

It sounds a lot more intimidating than it is, but as long as you’re prepared, and a fairly strong swimmer, you’ll finally land on Playa de Amor, where you can spend the day snorkelling, picnicking, and spotting dolphins.

Cool Fact: While cenotes, or sinkholes, can be found all over Mexico, Hidden Beach could easily be mistaken for one. Hidden Beach was actually the result of military testing target practice during the early 1900s.


Marietas Islands Tour

As a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Marietas Islands are carefully protected with a small visitor limit and trips scheduled between Wednesday-Sunday only. The best way to travel to Isla Marietas and the hidden beach is through a guided boat tour.

Most boat tours include 2 hours to spend on the beach, plus the scenic ride to and from Marietas Islands. Typically, you can choose the way you're going to enjoy hidden beach: taking pictures, kayaking, snorkelling, birdwatching, scuba diving, stand up paddling, or maybe a quick yoga session. All-in-all, you can expect a half-day excursion from Puerto Vallarta.

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