Banderas Bay is a rich and diverse ecosystem providing incredible underwater vistas and opportunities to explore underwater drop-offs, caves and arches, encountering giant manta rays, schools of dolphins and an amazing kaleidoscope of tropical marine life along the way.
As such, the bay delivers perfect scuba diving conditions and a waltz of diving opportunities, so both experienced and beginner divers can enjoy the abundance of sea life in the warm, clear waters of Banderas Bay and the Mexican Pacific. Many of the dives spots are less than an hour away from Vallarta's marina, where most dive boats leave from.
And for those that are satisfied with simply donning a mask and fins, snorkeling equipment is widely available throughout the bay. In addition, many water adventure providers and bay cruise companies frequently incorporate the activity into their offerings.
Los Arcos i cluster of granite islands rising out of the deep water in the southern part of Banderas Bay is one of Mexico's most popular marine reserves, providing excellent day and night diving opportunities for divers of every level. At the same time, the location is ideal for small children and novice snorkelers. It attracts a wide variety of marine life: angelfish, butterfly fish, damsels, parrot fish, needlefish, puffers, eagle rays, giant mantas, sea turtles and many other species of sea life.
Further down the coast are popular dive spots at Quimixto, Majahuitas and Chimo (Las Iglesias).
The spectacular undersea architecture at Las Marietas Federal Marine Reserve is a sanctuary for turtles, dolphins, mantas and scores of tropical fish that swim along the coral reefs. With so much going for it, it's no wonder that both beginner and certified divers call the Marietas their favorite dive destination in Puerto Vallarta.
The Marietas are also an ideal location for snorkeling for the experienced and beginner alike. King angelfish, Panamic sergeant majors and Cortez chubs frequently approach snorkelers at Las Marietas. You'll also see damselfish with their dark purple-blue body and bright new on blue spots. And if you are lucky, you might spot the elusive Moorish idol, a beautiful white and yellow fish with vertical black stripes.
To the west of the Marietas Islands, is El Morro, a series of rock pinnacles that barely break the surface, that provide experienced divers the chance to practice more technical diving in a remote location.
Los Anegados is a rock bank that lies half-way between El Morro and the Marietas Islands which starts at around 30 ft below the surface and proves caves exploring opportunities.