Humpback Whales and Scuba Diving at Marietas Island, Mexico

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While planning my trip to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico in November 2012, I made reservations for two days of diving. My second day was specifically to dive the Marietas Islands, which are a Marine Protected Area and a Biosphere Reserve. Only until recently as two years ago, have the scuba shops been allowed to go there by boat and bring others for recreational diving.


The Marietas Islands are located near the northern tip of  the Bay of Banderas.  I got on the dive boat through Vallarta Adventures and we began our 1 hour trip through the bay. The dive boat was small (like all the others I have seen the day prior) so it did get pretty choppy half way through the boat ride.  What helped ease my anxiety of the bumps and waves was the possibility of seeing humpback whales! About 10 minutes away from the islands, we saw the body of a huge whale and its’ tale flip up out of the water! It was many yards away from us and the captain quickly changed route to get us closer to it. We got to see the whale “snout” out the water from its’ back and then it disappeared. This just got me more excited to get into the water hoping to see it again!

As we arrived at the Marietas Islands, I noticed the islands are in actuality, two big formations of rocky, volcanic form. We were told that no one is allowed to step foot on the islands legally due to it being protected, scuba diving is the closest we can get. I wish we were able to but I understood this is the best way to preserve the land, the birds and the marine life.



As we jumped off the boat and I put my face into the water, you can see the bundles of fish right below you and the caves. As we descended, you can feel the thermocline every 20 feet. Fifty feet was as low as I could go in a 3mm wetsuit and 45 feet depth felt much warmer. Having swum through the caves, you’d go in and out of darkness and lit up spaces in between one cave and another. That was the first cave dive for myself and many others on the boat and it turned us all onto it.

The other surprise we had during our dive, was meeting the cutest pufferfish. Unfortunately we did not snap a picture of it (but saw dolphins – see pic below). It puffed up when it noticed that “we” noticed it. Puffing up is meant as a defense mechanism for these fish. Even though we did not do any fast movements or exhibit any threatening behavior, the fish continued to hang around us for many minutes. I believe it was curious about us as we were about it. It made me wonder back to what goes through the minds of fish and sea life that we as divers encounter every day. Do they like us coming into their community and what do they really think of us?

me marietas


I’d like to return to Puerto Vallarta and take another tour to these islands. There’s many dive sites nearby too which I’ll write about, check back in the near future for some photo essays!