PV Sea Dive

The wonders of Los Arcos

Everyone who comes to Puerto Vallarta will hear about Los Arcos at some point. They are one of the many splendors that Vallarta has to offer, and many tours incorporate these splendid rocks as a part of their tours. Why? Well, there are many reasons for this.
Los Arcos is so called for the aches that are in every formation here, simple as that.
There are four large rocks sticking straight out of the bay in this small area. All, bar one, has an arch in it. The one that does not is called Turtle rock. This rock is to the north of the largest rock, and in my opinion looks just like a rock, not a turtle! Who am I to say though?
This is a great snorkeling spot, with many friendly fish to welcome you into the water. As for diving though, there are five great dive sites here.
The north side of the largest rock is called the aquarium, where the snorkeling is at its best. The diving here is also really great for new divers, as it is shallow, relaxing and full of fish and other unusual creatures to be amused by.
Going off the tip of “Turtle!” rock, you will find the start, or the end, of the San Andreas fault line. There is a sand path at around 70 foot, depending on the tide at the time. Either side of this are rocks forming what is locally called the “Devils Mouth”. Once through here, the bottom disappears to over 1800 feet! It really is quite spectacular to look down as it beckons you to explore. Such a place calls for discipline to stay within your diving depths and not to follow on down the wall. There are usually large schools of snappers, grunts and tuna flying around here, along with a resident turtle.
Another dive spot I love to dive on Los Arcos is the Pinnacles. This dive consists of a short, shallow dive over a rock garden, followed by some spectacular rock formations and two huge underwater mountains, called the “Pinnacles”. There is a crack up one of the Pinnacles which is always packed with so many fish, and this is a sight to see that you’ll never forget. You can dive straight up it, and I always tell my divers to look up so they can see all of the fish.
On the surface, Los Arcos is somewhere you will not see very often, and it should never be taken for granted.
There are many birds that nest and live on the islands. On the west face of “Turtle” rock, you will always be able to see the Blue Footed Boobie birds. These birds were almost extinct, but are now thriving, and live on this rock, on Islas Marietas and the Galapagos Islands only.
Get here early to avoid the crowds, but, if you can´t, try and take the scenery in. Los Arcos really is unique.

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Celebrating twenty years of publishing weekly in Puerto Vallarta! Since 1997.


  1. Your article “PV Sea Dive – The wonders of Los Arcos” was very informative for me because I live in San Francisco, between the San Andreas and Hayward fault lines, which is is considered to be earthquake country. During the 1989 earthquake, the San Andreas fault line moved some 35 feet north on the north side of the bay in Marin county. To the south in San Mateo county, is the miles long Crystal Springs Reservoir occupying part of the San Andreas fault line, and provides a backup water supply for the San Francisco.

    To think, we got away from San Francisco and the San Andreas fault when we vacation each year in Puerto Vallarta, and then went snorkeling at Los Arches and the “Turtle”, at the “Devils Mouth” . . . and beginning of the San Andreas fault, is unbelievable. The largest earthquake we have experienced was in Puerto Vallarta, a 7.5 that lasted over two minutes, and resulted in the removal of a new high rise timeshare hotel that, we had visited the day before.

    Between vacations, my family and I are safely enjoying San Francisco, the location of the 1906 earthquake – that with the resulting fire – destroyed the whole city.

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