In this post I’m talking about Las Marietas and whale watching in Puerto Vallarta. They are the two most popular things to see and do here, and you’ll see why.
In general, Puerto Vallarta is not short of things to do outside of your resort, but buyer beware, it’s not cheap!
Most excursions depart from the marina, which is really convenient if you’re staying at here, because it’s a short walk.
First up is Las Marietas. I’m sure you’ve seen this place on Pinterest, pinned a million times because it’s so beautiful. On a tiny island lies a hidden beach, accessible only when the tide is right.
To get here from Puerto Vallarta we rented a boat that came with a captain and a guide. You guys, it’s expensive! We paid more for a crappy boat here than we did for a nice one in Bora Bora. I was shocked by the price, especially since generally things here aren’t very expensive. While I didn’t expect the $2k yacht one tour company quoted, I did expect a much nicer boat than we had. Especially since we paid just over $650. We went with this company, and turns out the $2k boat would’ve by far been the better value in comparison.
Anyway, Las Marietas is stunning. Visitors aren’t allowed anywhere but the hidden beach and caves. The island is home to different birds, and the no-humans allowed aspect makes it a wonderful sanctuary. The green grass and brown/gray rocks make this tiny island pop. To access the hidden beach you need to be in decent health. It requires swimming a small distance through a cave with a strong current.
Just before the cave, be sure to spend some time snorkeling if you can. The snorkeling here is excellent, especially considering there are so many people around. We went to a snorkeling spot after this that was so blah compared to the coral and fish here!
Once inside the hidden beach!
Also here are the most awesome caves ever. If your guide offers to take you inside (don’t go alone, because it’s dangerous), do it! Between the colors of the rocks, the way your heart races when a huge blast of water crashes in, and having to navigate your way across, it’s like you’re on the best adventure!
After the hidden beach, we stopped at the other side of the island for some snorkeling. As I said above, the snorkeling by where you enter the hidden beach is way better. Plus, once you’ve snorkeled in places like Moorea, really no other destination compares. It’s a problem 😉 Anyway, I still liked this stop for the above the water views – the rock arches and formations, random beaches, etc.
Another reason I opted for a private tour was to see whales! I (wrongly) figured it was better to see them up close on a smaller boat vs. going on a huge one with a lot of people. Not true. There’s a big tour company (not the one we used) that offers the same excursion, and while the idea of having up to 60+ passengers frightens the crap out of me, at the end of the day, the people on that tour saw whales. At the end of our day, this is the extent of whales we saw:
We paid extra to see them (vs. the tour option in which you go to/from Las Marietas and hope to see them). We spent a great deal of time searching, in particularly following this other tour company. We were always just behind them. Always. And we always missed the whales, because we were behind. It was annoying at best. Our guide was fabulous, seriously such a wonderful person. But, it wasn’t just “not a good day to see the whales,” because it was so blatantly obvious the other tour did. We just missed it.