Mexico: How to Visit “Hidden Beach” in the Marietas Islands

Puerto VallartaThe Marietas Islands National Park is a small group of federally protected, uninhabited islands 28 miles off the coast of Puerto Vallarta.  It is famous for its “hidden beach” of Playa de Amor that is completely encircled by rock and vegetation.   The unique shape and landscape of the main island is the result of military target practice in the early 1900’s.

Though you will need a permit to visit the islands, they are easy to acquire.  Just make sure you have one before you depart, especially if you are traveling by local pangas.  Boats of different sizes and shapes leave from three jumping off points; Puerto Vallarta, Punta de Mita and Sayulita.  Puerto Vallarta is where the bulk of the tour operators are based, Punta de Mita is where you can hire a small local boat for a faster journey and Sayulita caters to the left overs.

Sayulita, MexicoPuerto Vallarta:

  • Transport Type:  Tourist Boats
  • Price:  $80 USD and Up per person
  • Distance:  35 KM from Puerto Vallarta
  • Duration:  1 Hour Each Way (Up to 1 Hour and 20 Mins).  Trips range from 3 Hours to 7 Hours.


Punta de Mita:

  • Transport Type:  Local Boats (Pangas):
  • Price:  $80 USD and Up per person
  • Distance:  8 KM from Punta de Mita
  • Duration:  20 Minutes.  Trips are usually 3 Hours in Total.


  • Transport Type:  Tourist Boats and Local Boats.  For local boats, you will first drive to Punta de Mita and depart from there.
  • Price:  $80 USD and Up per person
  • Distance:  23 KM from Sayulita
  • Duration:  1 Hour Each Way

Hidden BeachTours:

Tours cost between $70 and $100 per person.  Most of the big tour operators leave from Puerto Vallarta and all the small local pangas leave from Punta de Mita.  Tours typically include food, activities and sometimes drinks.  At the time of writing most of the big tour operators were no longer allowed to visit the Hidden Beach.  The best (and most efficient) way to see the beach is by going to Punta de Mita where the local boats are ready and licensed to visit the beach.

Swimming to “Hidden Beach”:

Boats are not allowed to dock on the island so swimming is required if you plan to get to the beach.  The tunnel is about 40 feet long.  The boats will stop at the required distance from the island where you can jump off and swim.  Most of the swimming is easy, although the currents can be strong once inside the cave leading to the beach.

What To Bring:

  • Water
  • Snacks
  • Dry Bag (For Camera)
  • Swimsuit
  • Biodegradable Sunscreen

Hidden BeachWhen To Go:

The peak season is from November to May.  This is also the time of year when you can see whales.  Leave as early as you can in the morning since the last operators tend to depart at 11:30AM.

Environmental problems:

The Marietas Islands have become massively popular in recent years.  So much so, that the number of visitors shot up from 27,500 visitors in 2012 to 127,000 visitors in 2015!  But right along with those visitors comes garbage, pollution and coral reef destruction.  As a result, the National Protected Natural Areas Commission (CONANP) has closed the famous “Hidden Beach” to the public in the past.  Check before you book your flight.

Daniel Royse Written by:

Daniel Royse is the founder and editor in chief of the online travel publication, This Boundless World. He has written numerous articles on travel, business and politics and has recently completed his first full-length novel titled The Watermelon King. Daniel is an obsessive writer and explorer who has backpacked to over 50 countries, spanning five continents. To the disbelief of many, he still enjoys long, hot bus rides through chaotic places. More information about The Watermelon King can be found at Contact: danroyse(to)