We’re sure you’ve all seen the photo of a beautiful beach inside a cave, only accessible from above. If you’ve always wondered where it was, it’s located in the Islas Marietas. The Marieta Islands form an archipelago comprising Isla Redonda and Isla Larga. Apart from a top tourist destination, the islands are also home to various endangered species of bird and fish.

Keep on reading to find out where the Islas Marietas are located and much more about this small slice of heaven, in addition to our personal recommendations.

Where are the Islas Marietas?

The Islands are located on the Nayarit Riviera, or more precisely, to the north of Bahía de Banderas, opposite the coastline of Punta Mita. One of the region’s unmissable attractions due to its truly unique scenery.

The next thing you’ll need to know is how to reach the Islas Marietas. The Islands are only accessible by boat. It’s therefore necessary to book an excursion via a respected agency that will take you to the area. Given that the Islands are a protected area, it is extremely important to plan your visit well in advance.

The journey from Puerto Vallarta to the Islas Marietas takes approximately one hour and if you’re staying in Punta Mita, you’ll be there in approximately 20 minutes.

What to do on the Islands

As we’ve mentioned, the Islas Marietas Nayarit boast the title of Protected Natural Area, Biosphere Reserve and Ramsar Site since 2004.

On your way to the Islands it’s possible to observe whales, and closer to the coast you’ll be able to go snorkeling on the coral reefs. If you’re lucky you might even see a sea turtle.

snorkel islas marietas

The archipelago is home to a host of other species besides, such as sting rays, hammerhead sharks, silky sharks and bull sharks. A wide variety of birds and reptiles are also found here, including black and green iguanas and night snakes.

On Isla Larga, the first port of call is La Nopalera, a beach only accessible at certain times of year with white sand and crystal-clear waters. The island also boasts a variety of unusual rock formations, ideal for getting some great holiday snaps. The most famous formations include Arco de Piedra, el Amarradero, Cueva del Muerto and la Bufadora, where the waves crash into the rocks creating swirls of mist in the breeze.

In contrast, on Isla Redonda you’ll find the most iconic of all the Islas Marietas’ beaches, Playa del Amor.

Playa Escondida, Islas Marietas

This strip of sand can only be accessed via a rocky corridor in which the water rises approximately two meters above sea level. It’s possible to either swim or kayak through the passage, but only when conditions permit, in other words at low tide.

It is important to emphasize that the tour company you book through must be certified and provide the necessary equipment for this activity. The use of a lifejacket is obligatory and if you can’t swim, your company can provide floats to help you.

As the Islands are a protected area, only 116 visitors are permitted per day. This total is divided between all the companies registered at different departure points (Puerto Vallarta, Nuevo Vallarta, Punta Mita, etc.). Visits run from Wednesday to Sunday.

islas marietas mexico

Visiting the Islas Marietas

A variety of options currently exist to visit the Islas Marietas on a tour. The cost depends on the variety of services offered and the type of boat used for the excursion.

Some tours include a breakfast service including food and drinks, in addition to the visit itself and snorkeling equipment. In general, catamarans are used for these excursions and are between three and five hours long.

A number of budget-friendly tour options leave from Puerto Vallarta to visit the Islas Marietas, starting from $800.00 per person. These offers do not include a visit to Playa del Amor, although they do include the other activities.

It should be noted that if you wish to visit Hidden Beach in the Islas Marietas, the price may rise significantly, reaching up to $1,000.00 per person. It is important to remember that a tax of $100.00 Mexican dollars will also be charged for entry to a conservation area.

la napolera beach

The Islas Marietas offer the chance to enjoy sublime scenery, while learning more about Mexico’s impressive biodiversity. If you’re planning a visit, at Boutique del Mar we offer the highest quality accommodation so all you have to do is kick back and enjoy a truly unforgettable holiday with a visit to these stunning islands.