Explore the most famous Mexican islands with a tour to the Marietas Islands. This is our experience and tips for the best experience.
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The Marietas Islands are uninhabited, protected islands off the coast of Banderas Bay. These islands are relatively close to Puerto Vallarta and are home to the blue foot boobie bird and coral reefs. The surrounding ocean is great for whale watching and seeing other sealife.
Before departing on your trip to Sayulita or Puerto Vallarta, I highly recommend booking a tour to see these magical islands.
We booked our tour with ChicaLocca Tours and could not have been more pleased with the experience.
**Many of the photos in this post were taken by the photographer aboard our tour boat**
ChicaLocca Tours to The Marietas Islands
* I was not paid to write this. I am sharing my own experience for others looking to pursue a Marietas Islands Tour.*
We booked our tour in advance to guarantee a spot on the boat. However, if you are in Sayulita, you can head to their office on Delfines around 7:30AM to try and join current Marietas Islands tour. You can also schedule a tour at the office.
We selected the double-deck waterslide tour and unfortunately did not select the Hidden Beach tour option. If you have the funds available, I would highly recommend getting on a tour to Hidden Beach as well.
Since it was my birthday, my pass was free. For Chris, it was $95USD and each of the kids was $50USD. With the Hidden Beach tour, the price is $170USD per adult and still $50USD for children.
Getting to the Marina
All of the boats that go to Marieta’s Islands leave out of Puerto Vallarta, which is a bit out of the way if you are staying in Sayulita. But, ChicaLocca offers a shuttle service on the morning of your tour.
You will meet with the other guests at the ChicaLocca office in Sayulita around 7:30AM. We were in the van and headed to Puerto Vallarta by 8:15AM.
The van ride was definitely worth the tour and the accommodation once onboard the boat.
ChicaLocca Accommodations and Crew
When booking your tour, you will be given lunch options to choose from. They offer a variety of sandwiches, as well as gluten-free, vegan, and vegetarian options.
Once on the boat, everyone is provided breakfast, a mix of fruit and pastries. Although it wasn’t a super filling breakfast, I think it was effective. You don’t want a ton of food sloshing around in your stomach while on a boat.
There is plenty of comfortable seating on the boat. The bottom level is made up of large cushioned bench seats and pillows. There is also a large net at the front of the boat that you can lay and sunbathe on.
On the top deck, there were bean bags and more seating. And then, the rear of the boat had standard plastic bench seats and a fishing area with complete fishing gear.
Once the boat launches, the tour leader gave us a rundown of what the day would hold, some history, as well as an introduction to the crew.
The one thing that made me so grateful we chose ChicaLocca was the crew. The head tour guide had an amazing sense of humor and kept everyone laughing. He was also very informed about the whales, the islands, and other wildlife along the way.
The crew walked around all day, asking if anyone needed drinks or anything else. They were so attentive and personable. We were lucky to make good acquaintances and have meaningful conversations with a few of them.
The entire time we were on the boat and at Marietas Islands, I felt safe in their care. Their crew is trained and experienced, makes you feel safe regardless of swimming abilities, and will make you feel right at home.
Being honest, another reason we selected ChicaLocca Tours was because of the open bar. I mean, if you’re going to spend a day on the ocean with a bunch of strangers, might as well have some liquid courage.
Onboard, I mainly drank bloody mary’s. It’s just my signature drink pretty much anywhere I go. Chris drank margaritas. We also had some lemonade with tequila. And because the crew caught on that it was my birthday, we also did a shot of tequilla.
PS: The crew cannot and does not drink while on duty. They were extremely professional the entire time.
With the open bar and the music system, one might think this tour is geared towards adults only. While there weren’t a ton of children on board, there were a few families, ours included.
I could not have asked for a more caring crew to help take care of my children on a boat. They helped make the comfortable, brought them water and juice, and interacted and joked with them. And the kids had a blast.
Sydnee even went off the upper-level deck waterslide.
Want to make the most out of your tour and jump into the warm waters? ChicaLocca has so many fun activities to partake in during the full-day tour. You can slide down the waterslide that’s on the upper deck, ride on a tube behind the boat, jump of the open netting at the front of the boat, or even go swimming.
Also, they offer paddleboards and snorkeling gear. When we went the waters were a bit rough and they said the snorkeling would be pretty hazy. A small group went out, but the majority of us stayed on board the boat, listening to music, diving in the water, and chatting with other guests.
Note: If you don’t want to travel with strangers, you can book a private tour with ChicaLocca Tours.
It took around two hours to reach the island from the marina in Puerto Vallarta. Once we were close to the island, we were escorted by way of a small fishing boat to the edge of the island.
About 30 feet from shore, we were instructed to jump out of the boat and swim ashore. For children and those who weren’t good swimmers, the crew assisted get them ashore.
Let me tell you, at first I was nervous to put my 3-year-old in the hands of someone else to swim ashore. Everyone wears lifevests. But, it turned out magical. My daughter loved it and had a blast on her swim to shore. So much so that she wanted to stay in the arms of the guy who swam her in.
Once on the island, we had about 30-45 minutes to explore and play in the water. There is a natural rock archway that separates two beachfront. The first is open to swimming. The beach on the other side of the archway is extremely protected as there is coral reef growing there.
Since we had to swim ashore, I didn’t have my camera. Luckily, the crew has a photographer on board and after the tour, we had the option to purchase a memory stick with all of the images on it.
After time was up, we were instructed to swim back out to where we were picked up by the fishing boat and taken back to the tour boat. The entire process was easy, adventurous, and so much fun.
If you are headed to Sayulita or Puerto Vallarta, I sincerely recommend that you check out ChicaLocca Tours. You can read their website and book a tour, here.
We very much enjoyed our time in Sayulita, but out of the days we spent there, the day with ChicaLocca Tours was my favorite. We had fun, saw whales, and made new friends. What more could you ask for?