Situated on Mexico’s Pacific coast, the stunning region of Nuevo Vallarta has grown to become one of the most well known beach resort areas in the country. Located just north of Jalisco’s second largest city, Puerto Vallarta, this popular destination welcomes millions of visitors each year. Along with its pristine beaches, lush landscape, and sunny skies, Nuevo Vallarta has a lot to offer those who seek a little thrill while on vacation.
While Mexico birding tours (with over 300 species in the region) and zip-lining activities are major attractions for new and returning tourists each year, Nuevo Vallarta’s warm, crystal clear waters are home to a wide-variety of marine life making it one of Mexico’s top diving destinations and the top diving spot on the country’s Pacific coast. With outstanding Vallarta snorkeling opportunities and activities for beginning and advanced divers alike, this destination is sure to leave a mark on those willing to explore its unparalleled waters.
With more advanced diving sites located offshore, such as El Chimo and El Sequial, beginner and moderately experienced divers can enjoy numerous diving spots nearby in the warm, welcoming waters of Banderas Bay. Los Arcos and the Islas Marietas are two of the most popular destinations located within the calm bay waters.
With mild currents, Banderas Bay acts as a great starting point for divers who are sure to witness marvelous underwater environments such as caves, rock formations, and colorful coral reefs. The well known diving spot of Majahuitas even offers divers the incredible experience of exploring a coral-covered wall located just off one of the region’s many beautiful, remote beaches. Other dive sites within the bay include Colomitos and Las Caletas.
Regardless of where divers choose to explore life below the water’s surface, they are sure to witness true marine beauty: moray eels, damselfish, puffer fish, loggerhead turtles, green turtles, and nurse sharks can be seen within and around the bay’s vibrant colored sponges and rocky walls. If lucky, divers may even witness seahorses and octopus, both of which love to hide within the walls and crevices of the bay’s underwater rock formations and coral reefs.
Experienced divers tend to migrate further offshore where the currents are stronger but the reward well worth it. Locations such as Chimo and El Morro are popular among advanced divers. Due to greater depth and stronger currents, divers are exposed to a variety of larger marine species including huge Pacific mantas. Additional advanced diving sites, such as El Sequial and Corbetena (the furthest offshore), offer the best opportunities to spot larger than life species, including hammerhead sharks, sailfish, manta rays and even dolphins.
Diving tours offer a variety of options to visitors, including differences in tour duration, single tank and double-tank dives, experience-level, instructor certification, and pre-dive requirements. As one of the region’s major draws, there are a large number of companies that offer scuba diving tours in Nuevo Vallarta – be sure to research and compare tour details prior to purchase. While some of the more advanced tours may be a bit pricier, there is nothing like Nuevo Vallarta scuba diving.
Whether it’s between November and May, when many species are most easily seen at the offshore islands, or between the months of June and October, when the waters become crystal clear and reach their warmest temperatures, divers of all levels will experience the stunning beauty and life of Banderas Bay and the surrounding islands.
Prior to its rise to fame many wondered, “Where is Nuevo Vallarta”? Now, thirty years after building its first resorts, the region has become a landing-point for travelers worldwide. Its white sand beaches, warm climate, tropical surroundings, and diverse marine life have converted this paradise into one of the world’s most well known destinations.
Albeit transforming into one of the country’s most popular vacation spots, the region has remained relatively true to its identity. While resorts line the beaches, it is what visitors discover offshore that truly leaves them in awe. As author Jacques Cousteau stated best, “the sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever.” The sea is a wonderful and mysterious force. Nuevo Vallarta and Banderas Bay act as windows through which visitors get a glimpse of the incredible life below the water’s surface.