09/28/2015

Day Trip: Visiting the Marieta Islands


Close to Punta Mita, this uninhabited archipelago feels a world away.

From the beach at El Anclote, you can clearly see small land masses interrupt the horizon: the Marieta Islands. Consisting of two islands, Isla Redonda (Round Island) and Isla Larga (Long Island), this uninhabited archipelago became famous in the late 1960s, in thanks to Jacques Cousteau, who sought to have the area protected…and for good reason.

Carved by volcanic activity, this landscape is dominated by vast caves and steep cliffs – ideal for all kinds of wildlife. Some 92 species of birds – white-capped marine swallows, blue-footed boobies, laughing sea gulls – call these islands home. And below the water, there are plenty more creatures to discover.

Snorkelers and divers delight over diverse species of coral, 65% of all the reef fish found in the Bay of Banderas, and sea turtles. Marine mammals? They’re here too. Visitors often spot Pacific bottlenose dolphins and, in the winter months, humpback whales that use the islands as a refuge from predators.

And if the wildlife isn’t enough of a draw, there’s always the hidden beach. Accessible only when the tide is low, the spot affectionately dubbed Playa del Amor is situated in an open, sun-soaked crater. Getting there can be a challenge, as you have to swim through a short tunnel, but the tranquility and beauty that’s displayed in this incredible place is well worth the effort. 

The best part? Getting to this incredible spot is easy, as the Marietas lie only about 5 miles from Punta Mita. Villa Specialist Sue Matthews suggests chartering a boat, but there are also reputable tour companies who make the trip too.

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