Whether you’re visiting Sayulita, Puerto Vallarta or any other town in the area, the Marietas Islands are one place that you can’t afford to miss. In the last few years, these dual islands have become one of the most popular tourist destinations in the area. From the hidden beaches to the tropical fish swimming below the crystal clear waters, this is one destination that needs to be on your shortlist.
There are a few different tour groups that will take you out there, but in the end we decided to go with Ally Cat Sailing Adventures after it was recommended to us by someone who moved to the Sayulita area permanently. That recommendation was spot on, and we were glad to have spent a day with their fun-loving crew.
Our day started off in Sayulita at 8AM where we met with a bunch of other adventure seekers on the bus to Punta De Mita. To our surprise, Ally Cat actually had their own private bus that had adequate seating for everyone. That’s not something we were used to anymore!
After the bus ride, we were dropped off just meters away from the crew that would look after us for the rest of the day. They greeted us with open arms, offering cervezas (beers) and tequila right away. We were still a bit sleepy, so we held off on that for a bit as we explored the boat.
After about an hour, they finally got us to take our first drink from the open bar. Cheers to early morning drinking!
We spent about an hour or two relaxing on the boat as the captain and his crew took care of our every need. I’m not kidding when I say these guys were the most attentive crew I’ve ever experienced. As soon as a drink was empty, they were there offering another. There was no request too large or small that they wouldn’t take care of for a guest. (They even gave foot rubs to some of the older ladies later on in the trip!)
Eventually, we could see the Marietas Islands off in the distance. Along the way, we were lucky enough to be graced with the presence of dolphins! Sadly though, they weren’t very interested in the boat so we didn’t get any good pictures. We were told that at this time of the year all they care about is finding food. Either way, we still got to see some cool ocean-dwelling mammals!
In the recent months, there have been some new rules enforced at the Marietas Islands in order to protect the nature. It’s great for the things that have to live around there, but it also meant that we could only spend 20 minutes inside the hidden island, and we had to wear life jackets. They don’t want too many people there to destroy what is left of the native animal’s habitat.
Inside the hidden beach, we were lucky enough to have the bravest tour guide around. He took us into some hidden caves, even though the tide was high and waves were hitting the top of the tunnels. It took a lot of guts to walk into the narrow tunnel full of pointy rocks, but we did it anyway! Just like he said, “don’t think, just do it!” It actually wasn’t that bad once you were in; it definitely looked a lot more scary than reality. I lost my footing once at the end, but other than that the waves weren’t much of a problem.
Once our 20 minutes were up, the tour guides lead us back to the boat where they took us to the next island. This one was far more interesting because we were the only group on the sand. Everyone wants to see the hidden beach, but they seem to forget that there’s a whole additional island just a couple hundred meters away with far fewer restrictions!
This is where we got out the paddleboards, kayaks, and snorkels. You could go wherever your heart pleased. Be it in shallow to look at all the fish below with your goggles, or maybe you wanted to take a long adventure along the rocky shoreline on a paddleboard. We took a kayak to a completely deserted little beach where there was absolutely nobody. (Don’t tell anyone though!)
This is the part where we were really glad to have gotten on the tour that we did. There were a few other boats around that had paddleboards and kayaks, but they were PACKED. It almost seemed like if they could fit another person on the boat, they did.
After, they called us all to the small support boat that took us in close. We all piled in and they took us to “Cancun like water” where you could see all the way to the bottom, no matter how deep you were. We jumped off and swam inland where the crew (yet again) took us on a secret adventure. None of the other tour companies even came to this side of the island!
After all that adventuring, we were hungry! Lunch on the road is one of our favorite things, and the Ally Cat crew didn’t disappoint. They brought us Fajitas, rice, steamed vegetables and refried beans in the most Mexican style you could imagine.
Following lunch, we were finally able to relax and rejuvenate ourselves. They opened the bar once again (since you’re not allowed to drink near the Marietas Islands) and everyone got right back at it. We dove off the side of the boat, swam in the water, took the paddleboards out again, and did whatever we wanted!
The ride home was unbelievably relaxing. They had everything (right down to the music) perfectly suited to allow us to sit back and enjoy ourselves.
But, with tour guides like that, you have to know the relaxation wouldn’t last forever. Jumping off the front of the boat, we actually got to drift between the two hulls of the catamaran and catch onto a net dragging through the water at the back of the boat in order to save our lives! (I’m kidding, I’m sure they would have saved us if we missed the net :P)
This is where it got really fun. Almost everyone on the tour was hanging onto the back net as the captain sped up the boat! He literally dragged us all at full throttle through the water as they handed out more and more beers to whoever wanted one. That’s the type of experience you can’t get in North America anymore!
Sadly, all great days need to come to an end. All of us had to climb back into the boat as the captain navigated through the docks. But, even that wasn’t boring. The crew had us all dancing and singing to some great music on the front of the boat as all the other sailors looked at us, wishing they could have as much fun as we were.
In the end, they gave us some more drinks for the road and sent us back home. I just wished the tour could have been longer. It was one hell of a day and we can surely say that if we’re ever in the area again, we will be doing that again!
If you’re ever in the area, make sure to drop by the Ally Cat office and say hi to Debi for us 🙂