Last updated: 10:00 AM ET, Tue May 31 2016

Islas Marietas’ ‘Hidden Beach’ on Riviera Nayarit to Close Temporarily

Destination & Tourism | Dawna L. Robertson | May 31, 2016

Islas Marietas’ ‘Hidden Beach’ on Riviera Nayarit to Close Temporarily

Photo courtesy of Thinkstock

Riviera Nayarit is a tropical playground just waiting to be explored. A sanctuary of ecosystem diversity with its myriad of marine life and wildlife, this Pacific Coast destination thrives with natural attractions that deliver days of amazing discoveries.

Among its epic eco-tours is a trip to Islas Marietas, an island cluster that unfolds to aquatic encounters via snorkeling and diving. The UNESCO biosphere reserve and federally protected nature reserve is home to some 90 species of birds – including Band-Tailed Swallows, the Pacific Ocean’s largest population of Laughing Sea Gull, White-Capped Marine Swallows and the rare Blue-Footed Booby.

READ MORE: 5 Underrated Mexican Beaches

Below the surface are 103 of the world’s registered species of reef fish that drew the attention of the late explorer and conservationist Jacques Cousteau, who catapulted the wildlife-rich area into global fame.

While your adventure-enthusiast clients can explore this wonderland via boat excursions offered by such operators as Vallarta Adventures and Punta Mita Expeditions, Islas Marietas’ famous Playa Escondida – or “Hidden Beach” as it’s often called – will be closed at least until August for environmental restoration and maintenance.

The Mexican Federal Government’s CONANP (National Commission of Natural Protected Areas) recently announced the access restriction to allow conservation efforts for preserving the natural landscapes and delicate ecosystems.

According to Richard Zarkin, public relations manager for the Riviera Nayarit CVB, Playa Escondida is a Riviera Nayarit icon. “This is one of the most renowned natural treasures in our region,” he said. “Thus, we must be proactive in preserving it for generations to come.”

He added, “Our destination prizes its nature and prioritizes the preservation of our beaches, flora and fauna – particularly as tourism increases to the region – to assure that our visitors will enjoy the same pristine natural environment now and in the future.”

Zarkin noted that Las Marietas consistently ranks high on the bucket list for first-time and even repeat visitors. “Only a short boat ride away from the coast, this cluster of islands formed by volcanic activity is rumored to have once been a hideout for pirates and hunters,” he said. 

“On the eastern-most island, travelers will discover a rock arch leading to a narrow tunnel they must swim through to gain entry into a secluded cove. Coined ‘Playa del Amor’ or ‘Lover’s Beach’ by the locals, this beach is impressive for the ring of rock above it that forms a natural oculus to the blue skies above.” 

While Hidden Beach is off limits, Islas Marietas will remain accessible via excursions offered by the CVB’s officially sanctioned tour operators. Your clients who covet eco treks will still be able to enjoy snorkeling, kayaking, bird watching and other recreation diversions throughout the Islands.

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READ MORE: Riviera Nayarit Rolling Out Major Development Projects

The Agent’s Edge

The Riviera Nayarit CVB’s Zarkin advised that the next few months will continue to provide a great opportunity for travel agents to book boat excursions to Islas Marietas. “Because the islands are a carefully protected UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, time restrictions were implemented on Hidden Beach visitors. Diving, snorkeling, stand-up paddle boarding, bird watching and dolphin spotting have always been the main activities for visitors at the islands.” Zarkin added that those seeking extended beach time at Islas Marietas should also consider gorgeous La Nopalera Beach.    

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