If you visit Sayulita or Riviera Nayarit, the spectacular Marietas Islands National Park definitely is mandatory. Marietas Islands is a small group of islands and islets located a few kilometers south-west of the northern coast of Banderas bay, where Punta de Mita is the nearest town.
There are two main islands of volcanic origin dating back about 60,000 years, the Round Island and the other one known as the Long Island. These islands are a true natural treasure, however since the beginning of the 1900’s they were used as target practice for military strikes, something that would have continued without the intervention of Jacques-Yves Cousteau in the 1960´s. From then on, the government and environmentalists have been protecting the islands against depredations.
Thanks to the power of internet today these islands are well known for their flora and fauna and specially the sea life and underwater geography with many tunnels and caves connected together making these a great scenary for divers and snorkelers.
Marietas Islands can be reached by boat, the easiest way is from Punta de Mita where our boat is located, or we will drive you from our shop in Sayulita in around 20 min in a comfortable van to our Punta Mita base for check-in.
In the boat we will provide you snorkel and safety gear and introduce you to the crew who´ll make this for you an unforgettable experience.
The Marietas Islands are among the most important natural reserves throughout Mexico and the tropical Pacific thanks of wealth of coral reef and local fauna.
They become a “National Park” on April 25th, 2005 and were designated “Biosphere Reserve” by UNESCO in 2008, which makes it a privileged place to visit.
The total area of the National Park is 1383 hectares, and a total of 78 hectares of coral reefs. 1305 hectares are open to tourism. The islands and their surrounding waters provide a nesting, breeding and resting area for birds and marine life. They are home to several species of endangered birds such as the Blue-Footed Booby bird, found only on Mar de Cortez islands (Gulf of California) and the Galapagos Islands.
The Marietas Islands are important because more than 92 species of native and migratory birds refuge, reproduce and migrate to them. The Islands house the largest breeding colony of the common buzzard, brown tern or San Felix tern (Brown Noddy) and Clamped tern (Sterna anaethetus) and also the largest Seagull Guanaguanare population on Pacific Ocean.
There are a total of 115 species of fish, sharks and stingrays in the area that have been described, including 10 species of marine mammals, including dolphins and whales. Also it is home of more than 200 Coral Reef species and the land part of the island includes 11 species of iguanas, lizards, rattlesnakes and land and sea turtles.
Los Arcos is an excellent and very safe snorkel site for both experienced and not so experienced snorkelers. One can spend hours gliding above the shallow coral reef and rocky bottom. Los Arcos is an underwater national marine park reserve that is protected by the Mexican Government. So it is illegal to fish, or remove anything from the bottom; hence, a friendly, tropical sea life habitat is there for you to enjoy. At anytime of the year you can expect endless numbers of schools of angel fish, puffer fish, cornet fish and parrot fish that feed in the shallow reefs of Los Arcos.
Don’t forget to keep your eyes open for octopus, lobster and small spotted eagle rays, which frequent the site year round.
The reef depth range is from 3-30 feet and the surface of the water is rarely choppy so you can expect respectable visibility between 15-50 feet year round. Water temperatures range from 79°-86°F from June-December, and 70°-78°F from January-May.