The hidden beach of Islas Marietas

Stef Zisovska
Parque Nacional Islas Marietas - Author: Christian Frausto Bernal - CC BY-SA 2.0

The Marieta Islands or Islas Marietas is a group of uninhabited islands off the coast of the Mexico’s Nayarit State. The islands are a popular tourist destination due to the abundant marine life that lives in the waters around them. The government of Mexico has forbidden all fishing and hunting activities in the Marieta Islands National Park, so the whole area is a protected paradise for the flora and fauna. The Marieta Islands were formed many thousands of years ago by volcanic activity. To get there, you need to take an hour long boat trip from Puerto Vallarta. There are hundreds of tourists visiting the islands on a daily basis.

The biggest attraction of Islas Marietas is the so called Hidden Beach or the Beach of Love. It’s a beach surrounded by volcanic rock and only accessible at low tide. Hidden Beach is a small sandy beach in the middle of circular rock formation with an open roof. It is especially interesting for kids, snorkelers, and honeymoon couples. To reach this remote paradise, visitors needed to swim through a short tunnel which opens out into the stunning beach. There are many tour operators offering day excursions to this geological gem.

The pristine beaches of the Islands are a popular tourist destination – Christian Frausto Bernal – CC BY-SA 2.0

The Marieta Islands are an important area for nesting, refuge, reproduction, and migration of at least 95 species of aquatic and subaquatic birds. Some of these birds are native to the islands, while others are migratory. The islands are home to a tremendous number of reef fish, corals, dolphins, and Manta Ray.

During the winter months, humpback whales arrive around the islands, which provides one more amazing attraction of the Marieta Islands National Park. Along with all the wildlife, there are blue-footed boobys, who also nest in the Galapagos Islands. When reaching the sands of the Hidden Beach after swimming or paddling in the Pacific Ocean, there are plenty of things to do here. Snorkeling, scuba diving, sun bathing are just some of the activities popular among tourists. The tropical fish species found here are mesmerizing.

According to some people, the open sunroof of the Hidden Beach is not that natural. During World War I, the Mexican government did some bomb testing on the islands because they were uninhabited, as they still are. It’s possible that the rock’s roof was blown away by a bomb during one of the tests and what was left is what we can still see today.

The Marieta Islands National Park in Mexico – Author: Christian Frausto Bernal – CC BY-SA 2.0

Nowadays, the Mexican government has strict rules for those who would like to spend a day around and on the islands. You need a special permit and to contact one of the few boating tour agencies to schedule a trip to the Marietas. This snorkeling and scuba diving paradise wouldn’t remain that gorgeous if the local authorities allowed the islands to be inundated with tourists. There was a time when the coral reefs were endangered, partly from the global warming but mainly from the 250 boats per day that were dropping their anchors onto the coral.

Humpback whale breaching off the islands – Author: Victoria Lemus – CC BY-SA 4.0

Marietas Islands National Park is one of the most beautiful and unspoilt gems that Mexico has. Since May 2016 general public visits have been banned, and it’s now hard to get permission to visit. There is a strategic plan to replant all the coral that have been destroyed by humans.

If we raise awareness in time, it will be too late. This planet is the only one we have, and we need to take care of it. Be nature-friendly, travel sustainably, and don’t break the rules set to protect Mother Nature.

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