Marina Riviera Nayarit, La Cruz de Huanacaxtle, Nayarit, México

Marina Riviera Nayarit, La Cruz de Huanacaxtle, Nayarit, Mexico

A collection of small towns surround Banderas Bay, each with its own unique way of transporting you to another place and time and another way of life.

To the North of Banderas Bay, you will find the Marieta Islands, diver’s paradise and Punta de Mita for the surfers and golfers, there are typical fishing villages of San Francisco, Sayulita, and La Cruz de Huanacaxtle – for a look at what P. Vallarta was like years ago – as well as charming Bucerías, with its wide soft-sand beaches, and locally famous fresh oysters.

The Marietas Islands

The Marieta Islands, a place you must include on your to-do list while in Vallarta. A small group of uninhabited islands a few miles off the North Coast of the Bay, with two main volcanic islets dating from 60,000 years ago.

Home to several endangered bird species such as the Blue- Footed Boobie which can only be found on the Islands of the Sea of Cortez and the Galapagos Islands.

Islas Marietas (Marietas Islands) the hidden beach in the visible crater

Aerial view of the Marietas Islands

The Marieta Islands are important nesting, refuge, reproduction and migration area for at least 92 species of aquatic and sub-aquatic birds, native and migratory.

Full article, maps, tips photos and more: Guide to the Marietas Islands

Coral reef fish, Marietas Islands and Los Arcos

Coral reef fish, Marietas and Los Arcos

La Corbeteña

La Corbeteña Island, Nayarit, Mexico

La Corbeteña Island, Nayarit, Mexico

Surrounded by the blue waters of the Pacific this barnacle-covered rock attracts all manner of sea life. A profusion of manta rays, turtles, sharks, and dolphins are native to these waters, and huge schools of Jack tuna circle this tiny island in search of food. This is a great dive site with caves, arches and steep walls to explore.

A very popular and famous scuba diving site, La Corbeteña Island is located about 40 miles from the mainland, in the Pacific Ocean. Only recommended for divers with more than 200 logged dives. The locals call it La Piedra (The Rock).

Best to dive there during the summer months (June-August) and visibility is up to 120 feet. During the summer and autumn, you’ll find many mantas in the area. Common sea life in the area: sea turtles, jack tuna, bath rays, reef sharks, whale sharks, mantas, dolphins, wahoo, marlin, and sailfish.

More on Vallarta scuba diving sites

El Morro

Scuba diving at El Morro Nayarit

Scuba diving at El Morro Nayarit

El Morro is on the way to La Corbeteña, six miles west of the Marietas Islands, on the very edge of the Banderas Bay. It’s a great place for both fishing and diving. Over the water it’s a series of rock pinnacles, underwater you’ll find incredible rock formations, caverns, and swim-throughs.

A world-class dive site that combines drop-offs, caves and arches, a great place for advanced divers.

Scuba at El Morro Nayarit

Scuba at El Morro Nayarit

The clear waters offer an impressive variety of sea life, including reef sharks, dolphins, sea turtles, octopuses, and even sea horses. In the reefs themselves, you’ll find morays, giant mantas, yellowtails, Moorish idols, goldeneye grunts and much more.

More on Puerto Vallarta scuba diving sites

Sayulita

This rustic palm-shaded fishing village about 45 minutes north of Puerto Vallarta offers secluded beaches, it’s just around the bend from Punta de Mita.

Surf Playa Sayulita Nayarit / Sayulita Beach and surf

Sayulita is a popular town and beach for surfers

It’s off the beaten path, offers cobblestone streets and a real Mexican rural ambiance, sort of what you imagine Vallarta was like 40 or 50 years ago.

Sayulita Beach Panorama, Nayarit, Mexico

Sayulita Beach Panorama, Nayarit, Mexico

Surfing is good here, the surfers love Sayulita for the high-quality point surf and reef breakers, plus the very affordable accommodations.

Read a full article on Sayulita