The Riviera Nayarit is home to the Islas Marietas National Park. One of the most beautiful and fascinating beaches in the park is Playa Escondida, also known as playa del Amor, inside a crater created by a volcanic eruption or nuclear testing by the Mexican government. The truth is that there are many stories about what created this unique destination.
This lost paradise is characterized by its unusual setting of transparent waters without waves and very fine sand, very soft to the touch, under a huge hole in the rocky ceiling.
Bottlenose dolphins, olive ridley sea turtles, giant manta rays and mighty humpback whales, which travel from Alaska in search of warmer waters, can be seen around Las Marietas.
Brown and blue-footed boobies, when not flying in the area, are resting or wandering around the archipelago. These birds can only be seen here or on the Galapagos Islands.
How to visit the Marietas Islands?
Because it’s a hidden paradise in the Marietas Islands, the only way to get to Playa Escondida is to hire an excursion with a certified and licensed tour operator or guide.
Most tour operators include in their packages a kayak or boat trip, and the possibility of snorkeling or diving in the surroundings of the island to discover the marine riches of Las Marietas. In the boats they offer you food and drinks during the trip, they last 3 to 4 hours round trip and it depends on the activities they do during the trip.
To access Playa Escondida, you will need to jump into the water and swim to shore through a dark cave. During the crossing, you will be guided by an expert who knows the route and the beach very well.
This tour can only be done when the tide is low, otherwise you will not be able to access Playa Escondida as it is dangerous.
Playa Escondida is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. Access is limited to 117 visitors, who can only stay 15 minutes.
How much does the Playa Escondida tour cost?
Tourist companies usually depart from the ports of Punta de Mita, La Cruz de Huanacaxtle, Nuevo Vallarta or Bucerías. It is essential to use an approved company because it is a Protected Natural Area. Tourists are prohibited from traveling independently and therefore mass access is prevented.
There are several service providers responsible for taking tourists to visit the hidden beach of Marietas Islands. Richard Zarkin, Public Relations Manager for Riviera Nayarit Tourism recommended two tour operators who have the necessary permits to run this tour.
One of them is Punta Mita Adventures, which offers a complete package to visit the famous Playa del Amor. In a zodiac-type inflatable boat, they take a small group of visitors. You can snorkel through and around the caves and arches of Playa Escondida and visit the Marietas Islands on board, while the guide will explain all the details of this natural wonder so that you leave with plenty of knowledge.
The package includes a light snack, life jacket, water and snorkel gear. The price per person is 3,129 pesos (175 USD), although this season it has a special cost of 2,190 pesos (125 USD). To rent a package, you can visit vallarta-adventures.com
Another of the tour operators is Punta Mita Charters, a company formed by the Corral del Risco cooperative society that has 23 boats to make excursions in the area. Your pass to visit Playa del Amor costs 1,700 pesos. The duration of the trip is 3 hours. Besides visiting the beach, they can also snorkel and swim around the island.
The package includes snorkeling equipment, fins and life jackets. For more information, you can access the site puntamitacharters.com.
Advice before traveling to the Marietas Islands
The Archipelago of Marietas has been declared a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO. Therefore, those who visit it must be responsible travelers, that is, contribute to the preservation and maintenance of the area. So, don’t be surprised if there are service providers who charge an extra 100 pesos per person for the preservation of this paradise.
Tour operators must have certifications to perform this tour, while visitors are required to follow the guides’ instructions. To help preserve nature in this area for future visitors, please ask to see your guide’s certifications to know that you are using a tour service that is regulated and bound by environmental preservation guidelines.
Richard Zarkin recommends using only biodegradable sunscreen, not generating litter, not touching corals and even less trying to get close to marine wildlife. A qualified guide should ensure that these recommendations are followed.
Zarkin also explains that a great season to visit Riviera Nayarit is winter. You will not only be amazed by the beauty of Playa Escondida, but also by the magnificent “show” that the humpback whales give in one of their natural habitats.
“Those who want to spend a vacation in summer, a long weekend or in winter in the Riviera of Nayarit, do not forget to go to this emblematic place which, in turn, is part of the group of islands that exist in Nayarit. It will be a beautiful image that you will carry in your memory”, underlined Richard Zarkin.
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