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The stunning tropical paradise of Punta Mita, Mexico, is home to some of the most incredible natural wonders in the world. Only here can you trek through the Sierra Madre Mountains and discover some 30,000 indigenous people of the Huichol tribe who are more than anxious to share their vast knowledge of the ancient ways. Those visiting between December and March may also enjoy the unique opportunity to observe the magnificent humpback whales as they make their way into Banderas Bay and the surrounding Pacific Ocean to give birth and teach their baby whales how to behave in their underwater nurseries before heading out again into the vast open waters. However, there's one natural wonder that Punta Mita offers that you'll definitely want to add to your must-see list during your vacation, and that is the extraordinary Marieta Islands.

About the Marieta Islands

Naturally formed many years ago as a result of volcanic eruptions, the Marieta Islands are protected as a national park and are completely uninhabited by humans. This small group of islands once faced certain destruction before it was granted protected status because the Mexican government used it for military testing that included a great deal of bombing and massive explosions. The results were rather unique though, and the islands now boast interesting rock formations and several caves.

An Unexpected and Unique Beach

The explosions mentioned above are responsible for the formation of a truly incredible beach on the Marieta Islands, and it is known as both hidden beach and love beach. The names become immediately obvious when you see the beach as it sits beneath a huge crater that looks a bit like a heart, and its location privately tucked below the surface of the island seems to make it the perfect spot for a bit of romance.

You literally can't see this gorgeous beach from the outside, and it's only accessible at low tide when it's possible to navigate a long water tunnel that takes you onto the beach via swimming or possibly with a kayak. There's only about 6 feet of air space above the water, so this is not something anyone with claustrophobia should attempt.

An Incredible Eco System

Thanks to the protected status of the Marieta Islands, there is no fishing or hunting permitted, and no humans may set foot on any part of the island with the exception of the above-mentioned hidden beach. This has allowed nature to take the area back, and the islands and the surrounding waters are filled to the brim with a wonderful variety of plants and animals. These waters are literally crystal clear and only about 70 to 110 feet in depth so that you can see the underwater inhabitants perfectly, and the animal life on the islands is quite visible from the water.

The Marieta Islands are uniquely important to both plants and wildlife, and it serves as home, breeding ground and food stop for at least 44 different species. This has led to it being designated as an UNESCO MAB Biosphere Reserve, and you'll see an abundance of seabirds on the islands that include the very special red-billed tropicbirds and the blue-footed boobies.

The surrounding waters are inhabited by humpback whales in the winter months and other sea creatures all year long. These include dolphins, giant sea turtles, manta rays, eels, octopus of every size and thousands of small and large brilliantly colored tropical fish to name just a few, and there's a huge and beautiful coral reef that inhabits a large number of reef-dwelling fish as well.

How to Enjoy the Marieta Islands

This amazing natural wonder is literally less than a 15-minute boat ride from Punta Mita, but it's important that you don't venture out to the islands on your own. Only a few tour companies are licensed to take visitors out to enjoy the full Marieta Islands experience, and this is the only way that you can legally and safely make the islands an incredible part of your Punta Mita vacation. Tours may include a boat ride with a stop at the island for swimming, scuba diving, snorkeling, kayaking and/or a visit to the special hidden beach, or you may simply want to anchor out near the islands for a really good look at the humpback whales during the winter season.

Tour Bookings

Because tours are limited in an effort to continue the unique preservation of the Marieta Islands, it's imperative that plans be locked in for a tour before you actually arrive for your stay in Punta Mita. Those lodging in one of our Punta Mita luxury vacation villas here at Exceptional Stays need only let us know that you're interested in visiting the islands, and we'll secure your tour plans through a verified licensed tour company before your scheduled arrival.