This article was taken from Riviera Nayarit Blog www.rivieranayaritblog.com.
Little Known Riviera Nayarit Islands Dazzle Visitors
With Their Rare Wildlife, History And Even A Hidden Beach
Most often heralded for its nearly 200 miles of golden coast, Riviera Nayarit
is also home to beautiful, remote islands full of wildlife and adventure, each offering a different “off the beaten track” experience. Islas Marietas and Isla Isabel represent ecotourism at its best since both are protected Unesco biosphere reserves.
In an area made famous by Jacques Cousteau, Islas Marietas is a cluster of islands that is rich with wildlife. A federally protected nature reserve, the islands are accessible only via approved tour companies and visitors will be guided via a medium sized, high-bow boat, known throughout the region as a panga. Those traveling to Islas Marietas are likely to encounter the same wildlife that impressed Jacques Cousteau himself.
Formed by volcanic activity, these islands are home to literally thousands of birds and are surrounded by first-class diving opportunities. Octopuses, sea turtles and colorful tropical fish await the divers and tourists who visit these islands.
For the more adventure-oriented, one of the Marietas Islands has a hidden beach, only accessible by swimming through a tunnel. On the other side of this tunnel lies an incredible sight: Playa Del Amor. Partially shaded by the natural overlay of the island walls, this cave-like opening is a beach experience like no other in the world. Only a few companies can grant access to this beach, creating an intimate experience that is sure to weave its way into your travel stories for the rest of your life.
Created by underwater volcanic activity, Isla Isabel is a small 1.21 square mile island only 43 miles off the coast of San Blas. A National Park and Biosphere reserve, this hilly island features dramatic rugged cliffs and breathtaking panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean.
A nature reserve, Isla Isabel is noted for rare and beautiful birds that flock to this natural sanctuary which protects them from predators that would otherwise be a threat to their species. Due to the delicate balance of nature, visitors are limited to very short stays, normally only a handful of days. Similar to the world-renown Galapagos Islands, eco-tourists will find rare nesting birds such as the Red Footed and Blue Footed Boobies. Many species of birds on the island rely on Isla Isabel as their sole breeding ground, making it a pivotal resource in the natural life cycle of the region. Because they do not often interact with humans, the birds of this island are unafraid of them which results in the rare ability for birding up close.
Two and a half hours by boat from San Blas, Isla Isabel is one of the world’s best kept secrets by the diving community. Yellowtail, manta rays, whales and beautiful coral await the recreational diver looking for a gorgeous dive in a natural paradise. Coral reefs are not common in this area of the world, making Isla Isabel even more unique. Even the boat ride will quench the thirst of eco-tourists: during the mating season, it is possible to sail past docile whale sharks and large manta rays, even northern humpback whales!
Uninhabited and undeveloped, Isla Isabel is strictly for eco-tourists who value roughing it in the name of a pure experience with nature. Those who wish to stay overnight should be prepared to sleep in tents and adventure companies such as Nayarit Adventures can provide itineraries including supplies and transportation to facilitate this immersive experience.