GETTING WET IN PUERTO VALLARTA
I am often asked about the best places to dive, snorkel and generally spend a great day in the bay, so here are some pointers.
Everyone who comes to Puerto Vallarta will at some point see or hear about Los Arcos, those great big rocks sticking out to the south of Puerto Vallarta. They are so called because all of the rocks have arches in them, apart from turtle rock, which some people say looks like a turtle, and I say looks like a rock! Los Arcos is quick and easy to get to and is perfect for everyone to jump in and have fun. This marine reserve has plenty of wildlife on the rocks including the rare blue footed boobie birds. The arches are great for photography as well as swimming through and the water is teaming with an array of tropical fish to entice you to jump in it. Above water, there are clearly four larger rock formations, but underwater, there are many different formations and sites to explore. The Devils Canyon is the most popular dive site here, as it has a drop off at 80 ft that drops down to 1800 ft! This is a part of the Banderas Trench that links to the San Andreas fault line, and is a very dramatic dive site.
Going down the coast a tad, there is a favourite site called Majauitas. Covered in beautiful coral, packed with fish and rays, it is home to lots of little critters. There is a sand patch at 70 ft where you can see thousands of garden eels swaying like long grass to the rhythm of the ocean. Majahuitas is literally translated as ‘long grass’, so I think these eels really are at home! It is also a sweet spot to snorkel with its resident school of king angel fish and plenty of other fish to keep you amused. BONUS: You can snorkel along the coast line until you reach a stunning sandy beach to relax on and take it all in.
If you take a boat for one and half hours south, you will hit El Chimo. This is a not a snorkelling site and is only for the more experienced divers as it has currents, but it a sight for sore eyes, above and below the ocean. The tropical rain forest holds you on the surface, but once you are released in the underwater world, the inactive volcanoes are equally as stunning. From the tiny nudibranchs (my favourite pretty little sea slugs), to the giant mantas, you will be talking about this until eternity, of that I promise.
Looking directly out to sea from land, you can see Isla Marieta´s on the right side of the horizon. It takes over an hour to get there, but the islands, fish, birds and coral make the extra effort worthwhile. The Marietas is a protected reserve, and rightly so. Diving there this week was a joy as the water was warm and blue, the fish were in abundance and the coral was healthy and stunning in midday sunshine. The tunnels are a blast to explore with one for the snorkelers that takes you to a secret beach!
So, all in all, get into the water, see it for yourself and spread the word. Vallarta has it all, on land and in that wobbly wet stuff.