Life jackets are required when swimming to the hidden beach in the Marieta Islands, located just off the coast of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. To get there, you must swim under a 50-foot tunnel that only has about six feet of air space—that is, if the tide is low enough. If it’s not, the beach is completely invisible from the water, and the only way to get there is by scuba diving or being dropped down from a helicopter. Most days, the tide will allow a couple hours for you to check out the beach, which feels so exclusive that Leonardo DiCaprio’s character in The Beach would be jealous. Vallarta Adventures can take attendees to the beach, which is simply one part of the Marietas Eco Discovery tour our group took.
The tour started with us boarding a 2-deck boat and taking a 45-minute ride to the Marietas Islands. The islands were formed thousands of years ago by volcanic activity and still remain uninhabited—so much so that no one can legally set foot on the islands. We tried to get to the hidden beach early in the trip, but the tide was so high we couldn’t even see it.
Instead, the boat drove us to a cove in the islands, where we were dropped into the water to go snorkeling, ocean kayaking or to simply catch some waves. The islands make up a national park, home to rare animals such as the Blue-footed Booby bird, which attendees can spot from the water. A couple hours of water play later, we boarded the boat and managed to visit the hidden beach before returning back to land. The boat held about 50 people, but there were other boats on the same excursion, so meeting planners could book several depending on the size of the group.
For groups looking to stay on land, the company’s Extreme Zip Line Adventure makes the perfect icebreaker. Attendees can opt to ride on Mexico’s longest and fastest zip line (almost 4,000 feet) at the company’s adventure park. Other entertaining activities include off-roading in a Plaris RZR UTV, driving up steep hillsides and crossing rocky river beds, or slipping down the onsite waterslide.
The tour company also offers cultural excursions, in which groups can explore remote towns and villages in the Sierra Madre Mountains. At 2,000 feet above sea level, the 16th century mountain village of El Tuito provides a glimpse of rural Mexican culture, in which locals make cheese, bread and raicilla (a local Puerto Vallarta liquor). Visiting the area’s botanical gardens and ancient petroglyphs is well worth the trek.