When we visited Puerto Vallarta, I knew there was one place we had to go as a day-trip. I had seen all these outrageous photos on Pinterest of somewhere called Hidden Beach, and to be honest, I didn’t even believe it actually existed. But it does. And is amazing. This secret, special place is located within the Marietas Islands, about an hour’s boat ride from Puerto Vallarta. We were staying on the Riveria Nayarit side of Banderas Bay, which is much closer.
Since Marietas Islands is a national park, only a few tour companies are allowed out there. We booked through Vallarta Adventures, who had another boat that leaves from Punta Mita, so the ride out from that side is much quicker: only 15 minutes. You have to plan the trip by the tide to make sure you can get to Hidden Beach, because it really is hidden. The boat parked outside a huge rock formation and you snorkel through an 50-foot cave to a beach with an open roof in the rock.
The islands were created by volcanic activity, and by most accounts, the holes in the sky at Hidden Beach were created by military testing in the early 1900s by the Mexican government. Our tour guide hedged on that question a bit and said no one really knows how the “holes” were made. It is possible they caved in naturally. Either way, it was amazing. You can only walk on sand at the Marietas Islands; all the grassy area on top of the islands are protected. Which comes back to why you have to get there at the right time, to ensure the tide is low enough for you to swim through the cave.
In addition to visiting Hidden Beach, there is also snorkeling around the islands. Since we arrived from Punt Mita, we were about a half hour ahead of the other tours arriving, thus we pretty much had the beach to ourselves at first, and then in turn, the snorkel spots. We were visiting in November and the weather could not be better, or the water more clear and warm. While we didn’t see a huge variety of coral or fish, we could see them incredibly well. All the photos on this post were taken with a small waterproof camera, and came out so well compared to other trips because of the clarity of the weather and water.
On the boat ride back, we visited out some of the other caves within the islands. We glided close to see how the rocks were shaped and how they curved – it really felt like we were stepping back in time to when volcanoes pushed these islands up above the water.
Yup. Amazing. We thoroughly enjoyed visiting this area of Mexico and can’t wait to go back.