Hidden Beach Cave in Mexico

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).b (1) (Small)

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 😉b (2) (Small)

I’m not kidding, the staff on board was AWESOME. They were knowledgable, helpful, and just straight up funny. I meannnn ….b (3) (Small)

The ride out to the islands is about an hour or so long and it’s not the smoothest ride, so I wouldn’t recommend it for those who get seasick easily. b (4) (Small)

This was the view looking back at Puerto Vallarta. It was a nice day.b (5) (Small)

I was traveling by myself so I made friends with some people who pointed out their hotel somewhere over in this stretch.b (6) (Small)

On the way out we caught a glimpse of some humpback whales. I definitely did not resist the opportunity to say “WhhHHHHHAaaaallleeee!” at the top of my lungs. b (7) (Small)

We spocked a mom and her calf.b (8) (Small)

None of the whales breached, but we did catch a fin or two.b (9) (Small)

The Islas Marietas is actually an archipelago made up of two islands and two islets. And it is a UNESCO world heritage site!!!! b (10) (Small)

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. b (11) (Small)

Looks like flat island in Kailua, kinda.b (12) (Small)

Okay, maybe a little prettier than flat island 😉b (13) (Small)

In addition to the major tour boat operators, there are a handful of small private guides that take tourists into the smaller beaches like this one.b (14) (Small)

These are the friends I made on the boat. They were a great group of newlyweds who were just on a short vacay to try and escape the East Coast cold. Fun group of kids.b (15) (Small)

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.b (16) (Small)

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.

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I fired a couple off on my swim in.

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There were hundreds of these little fishies down below.b (19) (Small)

Some pretty ones too. Although I was kind of thinking how this might be a little unnerving for people who are from landlocked towns and aren’t used to seeing fishes out in the wild.b (20) (Small)

And then … you see it. One of the most beautiful sights you’ll ever see.b (21) (Small)

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). b (23) (Small)

This is a view looking back at the hole that you have to swim in through.b (24) (Small)

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.

b (25) (Small)The water in here is pretty nice.b (26) (Small)

See what I mean? There’s a ton of people in here with you, it’d be nice to have it to yourself, butttttttt …. it’s still insanely cool.b (27) (Small)

The view looking back out at the cave entrance.b (28) (Small)

My attempt at a selfie.b (29) (Small)

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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.b (32) (Small)

Some over under action.b (33) (Small)

There’s really not a lot of places to explore in the cave, but there are a few little nooks and crannies that you can venture into if you choose.b (34) (Small)

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Sorry, these are all just different vantage points of the same cave.b (37) (Small)

This is a small little cave system toward the side of the main cave.b (38) (Small)

Another shot of the main entrance.b (39) (Small)

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b (44) (Small)After we left the cave beach, we headed to another island that had more caves on it.b (45) (Small)

We got to spend a lot more time on this island, and I really, really wanted to do some climbing here.

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So many caves!!!

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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.b (49) (Small) b (50) (Small)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.b (51) (Small)

Cave selfie

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This was one of those moments – and I have them quite a bit when I’m traveling – where I stopped and really appreciated where I was.b (54) (Small)

b (55) (Small)This is zone of the other islands that we passed on the way out. I love everything about these islands. The rock features, the caves, the clear blue water, everything. UNESCO for the win.b (56) (Small)

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.b (57) (Small)





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