I’ve never had a burning desire to go to Mexico, and as such, I honestly never thought I’d ever make it to the hidden beach cave in the La Marietas Islands. I’ve seen pictures of it before. Or more specifically, I’ve seen this picture of it. But I never thought in my wildest dreams that I’d actually end up there one day. (Also, if your’e too lazy to read this whole post, I posted a short video of the cave beach on my YouTube channel).
When my dad booked a family cruise to Mexico, I thought I should at least figure out if I’d be anywhere near the beach cave, even though I knew we’d only have at most a full day in each town. As it turns out, we were going to be stopping in Puerto Vallarta, and they offer day tours out to La Marietas at port! From that point on I was on a mish. I had sent a few emails out to my sister and brother before the trip to gauge interest in the islands, and while they both sounded super stoked on it, I didn’t sense the level of commitment I had, so the day before we arrived in Puerto Vallarta, I booked a solo ticket out to the island. (This is a far away pic of one of the islands).
I booked my tour with a local company called Vallarta Adventures, and I highly recommend them. This is the specific tour I booked, the Marietas Eco Discovery Tour. The boat wasn’t too crowded, and everyone on staff was friendly and nice. They served up a great little lunch and they had an open bar if that’s your thing 😉
So the tour takes you around the island for a little bit. The rock formations are unreal, and I had just gotten back into rock climbing at the time, so I wanted to climb all over everything. Being that it’s a UNESCO site, as well as a bird sanctuary, you aren’t allowed to climb on anything.
And then we got to the cave. You can’t really see it from here, but the entrance to the cave is somewhere under that reef pile. This is where we parked the boat and this is how far we had to swim to get into the cave.
I made the mistake of not buying a GoPro for this trip and opting instead for my Watershot housing with wide angle lens. It’s not that the Watershot is a bad camera, it’s that the iPhone is a bad camera. So when you put your iPhone in your watershot, you’re often left with blurry photos that are either under- or over-exposed. Now that I have a GoPro and compare the two, there really is no comparison. So if you’re on the fence, go GoPro.
I fired a couple off on my swim in.
No, seriously .. this place is special. So the history behind the cave is that the military used to use the islands for bombing practice (which, coming from Hawaii, I can totally relate to). The hole in the top of the cave is not natural, it’s a repercussion of all the bombing on the island. So the only way to get into the cave is swimming through a small hole from the open ocean (because remember, you’re not allowed to climb on any of the islands).
If you have the time and money, you can spring for a private tour boat. Those supposedly are able to bring you into the cave when it’s not rush hour. In other words, the big tour boats all come in at once and literally flood this place with people. It’s still an awesome experience, but it isn’t the least bit relaxing or tranquil. If you can get a private tour boat to take you out here when it’s empty, I’m sure it’s a completely different experience.
The other benefit of having a private boat is that they probably don’t rush you out of here. We only had about 15 to 20 minutes to cruise in the cave before we had to head back to the boat for lunch and other activities, which included paddle boarding and more snorkeling.
We got to spend a lot more time on this island, and I really, really wanted to do some climbing here.
So many caves!!!
These boulders may not look like much, but they were pretty big and totally climbable. I was dying inside knowing I couldn’t get up there. You can kinda see in this pic, but the shore break was firing. I tried to bodysurf a few waves, but I am sure I looked like a big dork. It was super fun though.
And after about 8 hours at sea, we headed back to my home away from home, where the rest of my family got to oooh and aahhh over my pics from the day. I did feel bad that I didn’t spend the day with them, but I know they were stoked that I got to check yet another item off my travel bucket list. Thanks fam =) If you’d like to watch a video shot inside the cave, just bang the link.