Welcome to Mexico’s secret beach! Located off the coast of Puerto Vallarta.
Marieta Islands or Hidden Beach is a group of small uninhabited islands a few miles off the coast of Nayarit, Mexico. The Hidden Beach is rumored to be the result of deliberate bombings. In the 1960s, scientist Jacques Cousteau led a protest again harmful human activities on the islands. In 2005, the islands were finally classified as a national park, thus protecting it against any fishing, hunting or illegal human activity.
The Hidden Beach is invisible from the outside and is only accessible through a long cavernous opening that links the beach to the Pacific Ocean. During low tide, there is just enough overhead space between the water and the top of the cave, enabling swimmers to carefully swim through to access the beach.
There are only a few tour companies that the Mexican government allows to visit the Hidden beach. Upon arrival, the tour company’s permit is checked by the Coast Guard, who is stationed near the island. It is estimated that only 116 people are allowed to enter the Hidden beach per day without degrading the beach.
The entire tour takes approximately six hours. It begins at Puerto Vallarta; the boat ride to the Hidden Beach takes about one hour. During the months of December through March, you may be lucky enough to encounter humpback whales along the way. If the whales are active, your tour guide will usually stop the boat and make some time for whale watching. It is a spectacular scene to watch these beautiful whales breach the water, and we were fortunate enough to encounter two male humpback whales actively competing against each other. Small pods of spinner dolphins inhabit the area as well, so don’t be surprised if they pop up and make an appearance during your tour.
If you ever get the chance to go, here are a few need-to-know tips:
- Schedule a tour that allows you to actually step inside the Hidden beach. There are some tours that may say ‘Marietas Island Tour’, but the boat only circles around the island.
- You must be a good swimmer. The only way to reach the island is to swim. You are not allow to hike from the top of the island. There is about 100 yards of swimming required. You will pass through a partially submerged cave where you may have to swim under water.
- You only have approximately 20 minutes to spend at the beach, so take it in and enjoy it as much as you can.
- Price per person is approximately $70. The tour usually includes speed boat ride, entry to the island, snorkeling time around the island, and whale watching.