The Marieta Islands (Spanish: Islas Marietas) are a group of small uninhabited islands a few miles off the coast of Nayarit, Mexico. They are very popular tourist destinations because of the abundant marine life populations due to the islands being protected from fishing and hunting by the Mexican government.
The Marietas Islands were originally formed many thousands of years ago by volcanic activity, and are completely uninhabited. The islands are about an hour long boat ride west-northwest from the coast of Puerto Vallarta and are visited daily by hundreds of tourists, yet no one can legally set foot on the islands. In the early 1900s the Mexican government began conducting military testing on the islands because no one lived there. Many bombings and large explosions took place on the islands causing amazing caves and rock formations to be created. After a massive international outcry, started by scientist Jacques Cousteau in the late 1960s, the government eventually decided to label the islands a national park and therefore protected against any fishing, hunting or human activity.
Situated in a sort of open sun-drenched crater, this beach is artificial and was created by the explosion of a bomb that landed accidentally in this location during military trials in the past century. Affectionately nicknamed the "hidden beach" or "beach of love" (Playa del Amor), it is accessible only when the tide is low.
Protection by the government has created an environment conducive to the development of the marine ecosystem, and is a popular location for snorkeling and scuba diving. Not even during whale watching tours, people often report seeing sea turtles, manta rays, octopus, wild dolphins, humpback whales and thousands of species of tropical fish around the islands. The islands are also home to a few thousand birds, with species such as the blue-footed booby. Currently, the Mexican government allows only a few companies to go to the islands and allows the landing of passengers onto one secluded beach with the necessary permit from SEMARNAT.
From Punta de Mita, small boats do tours through the islands to see the wildlife of this region. From December to March you can observe gray and humpback whales that come from Alaska to give birth off the coast of Nayarit.
- Mike Quane (February 28, 2010), "Friendly resort of Puerto Vallarta offers something spectacular for all tastes", The Nashua Telegraph
- Fodor's (16 November 2010), Fodor's Puerto Vallarta, 5th Edition, Random House Digital, Inc., p. 78, ISBN 978-1-4000-0482-9
- Trending Travel Destinations (17 July 2015), Marieta Island, Blogger
- Media related to Marieta Islands at Wikimedia Commons