Las Marietas Islands – Snorkeling, Fishing, and Bird Watching

Las Marietas Islands


Las Marietas Islands have gotten some attention lately thanks to this cool photo of the secret beach in one of the islands that went viral on facebook with over 40,000 shares:

The “secret beach” of Las Marieta Islands


Since heading to the islands is one of the favorite activities for Agave Villas’ clients, we thought it was about time that we wrote a post about all the great things you can do on a trip over there.

One of the islands from afar


Up close at Las Marietas


Looking at the archways in the islands 


Las Marietas Islands are located a couple of miles off the coast of the northern tip of the Bay of Banderas and are about a hour boat trip from the marina in Puerto Vallarta.  They are an uninhabited archipelago of islands with over 1,400 hectares between them that were made into a national park in 2005.  It is home to over 90 species of birds, including it’s most famous inhabitant – the blue footed booby, recognizable by it’s smurf-blue feet and also found in the Galapagos Islands.  The waters around them are crystal clear and teeming with sea life, so for that reason the islands have become a favorite destination for snorkeling.

The first time that we went to the islands was with a couple of friends who were avid fishermen, so that meant getting up before dawn to heading down to the marina in the dark.  The nice thing about getting up so early was that we got to see the sun rising over the mountains of Punta de Mita.

Beautiful light at dawn while looking back at Punta de Mita


Sunrise over the mountains


Since our main goal was to make it over to the islands, the lines were cast into the water and we troll-fished as we slowly headed over.  Within a few minutes, we had some action on one of the lines.  It was my husband’s first time fishing, so with a little guidance from our guests and the captain, he pulled in a not-too-shabby sized Dorado or Mahi-Mahi.  My catch, on the other hand, left something to be desired.  

 Pulling in the catch


A beautiful Mahi – Mahi and a proud victor!


Agave Villas’ Larissa Magee and her not-so-impressive catch!


One of the great things about heading to the island is that there’s a good chance that you will see some humpback whales.  The Bay of Banderas is an important breeding ground for the whales throughout the months of December to April.  You can usually first spot them from a distance by the spray of air and water coming from their blowholes.  On this trip and several others we’ve been lucky enough to be treated to a show of acrobatic breaching, fin slapping and tail slapping.  

A humpback whale showing off with some fin-slapping!


A humpback whale breaching out of the water — so impressive!!


After stopping to enjoy the show, we continued on to the islands where decided to explore, checking out the many archways, blow holes, caves and, of course, all the incredible bird life.

The sky is filled with pelican dive-bombing for their lunch. 


One of the many archways throughout Las Marietas Islands


Snorkeling at Las Marietas Islands


Amazing volcanic rock formations


There are blow holes throughout the islands that make for a great show! 


A group of Blue Footed Boobies show off their smurf blue feet


We finally stopped outside the entrance to the “secret beach of Las Marietas” and jumped into the crystal clear waters to do some snorkeling.  Around the outside of the islands are rock reefs where the protection of the national park has allowed the waters to teem with sea life and it is home to over 100 varieties of fish.  After checking out the waters, we swam under an archway in the island and ended up on the beautiful, white sand, “secret” beach which is located beneath a hole in the top of the island that floods the beach with sunlight below. 



The crystal blue waters are filled with fish


After a nice rest on the beach, we headed back to the boat and within the hour we were pulling into the marina in Puerto Vallarta.  We finished this amazing day by heading back to the villa to prepare a great bbq lunch on the poolside deck with our freshly caught mahi-mahi.  What a fabulous day!!

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Lázaro Cárdenas 302,

Emiliano Zapata,

48380 Puerto Vallarta,

Jalisco, Mexico