Snorkeling and Diving
Snorkeling at Los Arcos National Marine Park is like swimming in an aquarium. Located about 500 meters off shore at the mouth of Mismaloya cove, a few miles south of Old Town, this rock formation is one of Puerto Vallarta’s most famous geological landmarks. The water has eroded arch shaped caves from where Los Arcos gets its name. It is also where Puerto Vallarta got one of its original names, Las Peñas, which means “the rocks” in Spanish.
Depth is about 30 meters and reefs are close to the surface. At the edge of the reef is a deep drop off with a wall popular with divers.
You will see tons of tropical fish, coral, star fish, sea cucumbers, sea urchins, groupers, manta rays and all kinds of birds…
Be sure to look for the Devil burned into the rock at Los Arcos. Local legend has it that the Devil was running amok in the beautiful Bay of Banderas. God decided to send down one of his Arch Angels to kick him out of his favorite earthly paradise. The devil was fleeing from the angel, looking behind him as he ran, not watching where he was going and crashed into the side of Los Arcos, singeing his outline into the rock.
Other excellent places for snorkeling are Majahuitas and Las Marietas Islands.
- Mismaloya Divers
- Chico’s Divers
- Pacific Scuba
- Ocean Quest
Experiencing Banderas Bay from the water is a must for you trip to Puerto Vallarta
You can catch a water taxi south every morning at the Los Muertos Beach pier at 10:00 am. You can also take the bus to Boca de Tomatlan and take a water taxi from there.
There are many secluded and pristine beaches on the bay only accessible by boat. Some have small villages with beachfront palapa restaurants. There are 3 stops on the Water Taxi route from Boca: the jungle communities of Las Animas, Quimixto (where you can ride horseback up to a jungle waterfall) and Yelapa, a bohemian artist’s enclave, the last village on the south part of the bay.
The beach restaurants in Yelapa are famous for whole grilled fish with garlic and fresh water langostinos; be sure to try the potent agave liquor Raicilla, distilled in the mountains above the beach.
Without a doubt, the best way to see Yelapa is at night. For a jungle getaway overnight, Yelapa has a great beachfront hotel, Lagunita Hotel, with a natural rock pool and romantic bungalows set against a lush tropical background for $75-100 usd/night.
For private excursions on the bay, we work with a very reliable captain who has a 23 foot launch with a 75 hp outboard motor, seats and canopy. Mismaloya Divers is owned by Chato and his brother Chipol; they will take you snorkeling, fishing or just to have lunch on the beach in Yelapa for about $200 usd for the day, tip not included, boat seats 6-8 persons comfortably, 2-4 max if you are fishing. Call your rental agent to make a reservation or call direct, 228-0020.
Sunset cruises or day trips on sail boats are another great way to see the bay. The Eleganz is a fabulous state of the art catamaran with an attentive professional crew that can arrange anything from box lunches to catered cocktail parties. Candace Shaw’s Fishing with Carolina is another excellent boat charter outfit for fishing, sailing or pleasure cruises.
The Bay of Banderas is teeming with wildlife. Humpback whales swim these protected waters with their young November through March; manta rays, spinner and bottle nose dolphin cruise the bay by the hundreds, putting on spectacular shows in the wild. Peak viewing times for Whale Watching are January and February, tours take place November through March.
Fishing is unsurpassed in this part of the Pacific, particularly in the warm weather months. There are many experienced sport fishing charters specializing in sail fish, marlin and tuna. You can book a Bertram or Hatteras to go sport fishing outside the bay for a cost of $400 to $1200 usd depending on the boat and amount of time spent on the water.
There are several sport fishing charters in Puerto Vallarta. Charter Dreams has been featured in Western Outdoor News . Their signature vessel, the Anticipation, is a 38 ft Bertram with an American captain, salon with A/C and fly bridge that seats 8 persons.
Mahi Mahi/Dolphin (called Dorado in Mexico), smaller tuna, Bonita, Rooster Fish and Wahoo can be caught inside the bay.
Every November, the Puerto Vallarta Club de Pesca hosts the International Sailfish and Marlin Tournament , a popular event with local and international sports fisherman for more than 50 years.
On the north shore of Puerto Vallarta are several state of the art marinas. Marina Vallarta, located just south of the airport, is home to fabulous yachts and ocean faring ships from all over the world.
Opequimar is a full service marine center and boat dealer at Marina Vallarta, with dry marina, travel lift, fuel station, repair shop, marine hardware store and bar/grill.
Marina Vallarta has a very North American feel; landscaped boulevards with condominium complexes, luxury hotels, upscale home decorative stores, a championship golf course and an array of highly acclaimed restaurants overlooking the docks including Porto Belo, La Terraza di Roma and El Faro, a lighthouse with a bar on top. The swanky Nikki Beach Club at theWestin Hotel has luxurious bed type lounges next to the water and features a fabulous Sunday brunch.
Paradise Village Marina is located in Nuevo Vallarta, about 10 minutes past Marina Vallarta. Nuevo Vallarta is a residential area with lawned estates, resort hotels and exclusive membership projects that sit on a long stretch of white sandy beach. Etc. Beach Club is a great beachfront restaurant to spend the afternoon.
A new 350 berth marina and boardwalk is currently under construction in La Cruz de Huanacaxtle , approx 15 mins north of Nuevo Vallarta.
Vallarta Adventures is home of the “Swim with the Dolphins” program in Nuevo Vallarta. They just added a new Sea Lion Adventure and have many tours including “Rhythms of the Night” , a boat cruise to the jungle beach of Las Caletas, where dinner and a show await guests in this secluded paradise formerly owned by John Huston. Heading south just past Boca de Tomatlan is Las Juntas y los Veranos, part of the Tomatlan river. River front restaurants such as Chico’s Paradise and The Canopy Ride are found in this area: take a ride harnessed to cables suspended from rainforest trees, whizzing across river gorges. You might want to rent a car to take a trip north to Sayulita or San Pancho, quaint surfing towns on the Pacifico coast outside the bay, the new area for real estate development very popular with North Americans. San Sebastian del Oeste is an authentic ghost town from the silver mining days of colonial Mexico. A cool haven in the mountains with centuries old haciendas, it has been made easier to access by a brand new highway and plane charters. Talpa de Allende and Mascota are popular sites in the area. One of our local magazines, Vallarta Lifestyles , is a great source of information on things to do in the area and includes an extensive review of our top restaurants. There will be several copies at your vacation home, along with maps and an information book. Your villa specialist will provide you with extra information prior to your arrival and be happy to set you up on any tours, fishing charters or dolphin adventures. Please email or call our office for more info.