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Tourism

Playa del Amor: Mexico’s Marvelous Hidden Beach

The beauty of Mexico

This unusual subterranean beach takes its name from the unique geography surrounding it. It’s actually located in a cave beneath theMarieta Islands, which are located not far from Puerto Vallarta. Bomb testing created not only a cave leading to this underground beach, but a large round hole in the terrain above it, making it look as if there’s a natural skylight or retractable dome ceiling right overhead.

The Marieta Islands were largely left alone by humankind until the Mexican government started using them for test bombs and target practice in the early 1900s. At some point, their explosives not only created the natural “sunroof” feature , but also blew out the rock underneath of it where the beach now sits. There was a strong movement by environmentalists in the 1960s to stop the destruction ofthese islands, with famous conservationist Jacques Cousteau personally leading the charge to spare the Marietas. In response to this strong international pressure, the Mexican government declared the islands a national park and ceased all military testing there. Over the next decade or so, the tide would wash sand into the caves created by the bombs, which formed the beach we now know as Playa del Amor.

Getting To Playa del Amor

Boat tours regularly leave from Puerto Vallarta, which is the most common launching point at about an hour’s boat ride away. If you’re up for a little more inland adventure and a little less boat time, you can launch instead from Punta de Mita to the northwest, from where it is only about 10 miles to the Marieta Islands. Boats from Punta de Mita will be more inexpensive, but boats from Puerto Vallarta make a whole day trip out of it by usually including lunch, drinks and snorkeling equipment with their price.

The only access to the beach itself is a tunnel that has about six feet of clearance from the water. You’ll have to either kayak or swim from your boat to get there. Since the islands are uninhabited, don’t expect any amenities at the beach; you’ll have to rely on your boat outside for any supplies you may need.

A potential bonus to the boat trip is whale watching in the adjacent Bay of Banderas on the way to and from the beach, at least if you go at the right time. During the winter, humpback whales migrate through the area on the way to their breeding grounds.

Where To Stay Near Playa del Amor

Both Punta de Mita and Puerto Vallarta have resorts, regular hotels and beachfront casas.

Punta de Mita is home to a Four Seasons Resort and the St. Regis Punta Mita Resort. These are the most upscale lodgings in the area and are also located the closest to the coast. Along the south side of the town near the port, there is also a string of hotels that are mostly upscale in nature: the Cinco Hotel, Hotel Punta Mita, Hotel Meson de Mita, Casa Las Palmas and the Hotel La Quinta del Sol. The Casa deMita, Haixa, La Tranquila and IBEROSTAR are other beachfront options that are located on the north shore near Punta Negra.

Puerto Vallarta is a world-renowned vacation destination, and as such there are a wide range of different lodging options. The hotels are mostly along the coast, but you’re actually more likely to see better pricing for a resort or upscale hotel here than you will in Punta Negradue to the greater diversity of competition for the tourist dollars.

The most upscale and luxurious of the options in Puerto Vallarta are the Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit, the Casa Velas and the FriendlyVallarta Beach Resort. Some more affordable resort options include The Westin Resort & Spa, CasaMagna Marriott Resort, SheratonBuganvilias Resort and the Hilton Puerto Vallarta Resort. There are a very wide range of hotel options in all of the different price ranges as well.

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