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Puerto Vallarta snorkeling sites are some of the best on Mexico’s Pacific coast!

While visiting this gorgeous coastal town, be sure to head to one of these places to snorkel in Puerto Vallarta for your chance to swim with sea turtles and manta rays.

Is Puerto Vallarta good for snorkeling?

While it’s true that Puerto Vallarta is a beach town, that doesn’t mean there’s good snorkeling everywhere. If you put on a mask and snorkel at Los Muertos Beach, you won’t see much. Perhaps a stray can of Corona or a lost flip-flop, but no marine life.

To enjoy some high-quality snorkeling, you’ll need to head further out of town. Thankfully, there are plenty of excellent options that are just a short boat trip away.

And if you’re visiting during the winter season, you may get lucky and see whales while you’re on the way out!

Let’s dive in and check out some of the best snorkeling in Puerto Vallarta.

Snorkeling in Puerto Vallarta
Snorkeling at Los Arcos.

Best places to snorkel in Puerto Vallarta

Los Arcos snorkeling

Los Arcos national marine park is one of the best places to snorkel in Puerto Vallarta. For details on how to get there, check out this guide to Los Arcos.

Since it’s a protected area, Los Arcos National Marine Park is brimming with marine life around the unique rock formations.

Some marine life you can see are clownfish, octopus, spotted eagle rays, giant manta rays, sea turtles, and a variety of tropical fish.

In addition, there are several caves and tunnels to explore at Los Arcos, which makes it one of the most interesting places to snorkel near Puerto Vallarta.

If you’re visiting between December and March, there’s also a chance you may spot humpback whales or dolphins on your way to or from Los Arcos. Check out this guide for more information about whale season in Puerto Vallarta.

Los Arcos snorkeling
Paddling out to Los Arcos.

Los Arcos snorkeling Tours

There are many snorkeling tours that will take you to Los Arcos from Puerto Vallarta.

We recommend checking out this small group snorkeling tour as it’s highly rated, reasonably priced, and led by a marine biologist who can tell you about the marine life you encounter.

Another solid choice is this full-day tour with a stop at Las Animas Beach and the waterfall at Quimixto.

For an unforgettable day, check out this luxury yacht snorkeling tourThere’s no better way to spend a day in Puerto Vallarta than drinking and sunbathing on a luxury yacht!


For something a little different, a great choice is the stand-up paddleboard and snorkel tour in Los Arcos, where you’ll get to paddle yourself out to Los Arcos and then enjoy some snorkeling.

Alternatively, You can also hop on the bus from Zona Romantica down to Mismaloya and hire one of the panga boats (water taxis) from there to take you to Los Arcos. You might want to bring your own gear, just in case.

If you keep going south past Mismaloya, there are many great places to go snorkeling near the Bay of Banderas. These include Colomitos beach, Quimixto, Mahajuitas, and Las Caletas.

All of these places are pretty remote, meaning you’ll need to sign up for a tour to visit them or hire a water taxi from Boca De Tomatlan. Technically, you could walk to Quimixto from Playa Las Animas, but hauling a mask and snorkel with a pair of flippers wouldn’t be very fun.

Puerto Vallarta boat tour
Chica Loca boat tours look like this.

Colomitos Snorkeling

Colomitos is a small beach with emerald-green water home to tropical fish, colorful coral reefs, sea urchins, and more.

This is an excellent place for free snorkeling in Puerto Vallarta, as you reach Colomitos without a tour by hiking from Boca De Tomatlan (click that link for a detailed guide on how to do it).

As there aren’t any facilities for renting gear, you’ll need to bring your own mask and snorkel, as well as plenty of sunscreen and water to stay hydrated.

Alternatively, you can join this guided tour where you’ll go hiking and snorkeling at Colomitos.

Las Caletas Snorkeling

Las Caletas is owned by Vallarta Adventures, so the only way to visit is on one of their tours. Their popular Las Caletas Beach Hideaway tour is a full-day adventure with some great snorkeling.

You can use kayaks and SUPs or just chill out in the hammocks. Oh yeah, there’s also a gourmet lunch and an open bar.

Majahuitas Snorkeling

Majahuitas Beach is one of the best Puerto Vallarta snorkeling beaches. It’s home to one of Puerto Vallarta’s hottest beach clubs on the weekends, but during the week, Vallarta Adventures runs day trips there.

This full-day tour takes you to Yelapa and Majahuitas, where you’ll get the opportunity to go snorkeling in crystal-clear waters and kayaking or paddle boarding!


Marietas Islands Snorkeling

PV Hidden Beach
Hanging out on an empty beach.

While they aren’t exactly in Puerto Vallarta, the Marietas Islands National Park (Islas Marietas) are considered among the best place to snorkel in Puerto Vallarta.

In addition to snorkeling, they’re famous for the postcard-worthy Hidden Beach and crystal clear waters.

These small uninhabited islands are actually in the neighboring state of Nayarit and much closer to the towns of Punta Mita and La Cruz.

It’s possible to visit them on a day trip from Puerto Vallarta. Just be ready for an early morning and a long day, as it takes about two hours to get there on a boat.

Still, the Marietas Islands are worth the journey as they offer some of the best Puerto Vallarta snorkeling spots. And it’s common to see dolphins and whales on the boat ride out!

If you’re hoping to visit the Hidden Beach, it’s important to note that they limit the number of visitors. Be sure to ask your tour operator if you can go there to avoid disappointment.

There’s plenty to see under the water, including butterfly fish and moray eels. You’ll also want to set aside some time for bird watching. That’s because you can also see the rare blue-footed booby here.

Blue Footed Boobies
Blue-footed boobies hang out on a rock.

We had an amazing trip with Off the Grid Excursions and can confidently recommend them.

It was just our group of four with the owner Javier and the captain on a small boat. We were the first ones at the Hidden Beach, did some great snorkeling, and also visited a few other remote beaches.

Vallarta Adventures also runs a highly-rated Puerto Vallarta snorkeling tour to Marietas Islands, which you can book here.


Best time to snorkel in Puerto Vallarta

There is no bad time to snorkel in Puerto Vallarta, just as there is no bad time to visit. That said, the spring and winter months are generally better, as visibility is at its best around this time due to the lack of rain and calmer waters.

While the water temperature remains warm all year, it can be a little chilly outside when you’re coming out of the water. So just put on your inside sweater and take a sip of tequila when you return to the boat! So many snorkeling Puerto Vallarta tours have an open bar, anyways…

Marietas Islands snorkeling
Snorkeling at Los Arcos Puerto Vallarta

You can still have a great time on a snorkeling tour in the summer, though you might get rained on returning to town. You’ll already be wet, though, so who cares!?

The good news about the rainy season is that the crowds are way smaller, and tour operators usually run deals. It’s also fun watching the storms roll across the bay in the evening, with Mother Nature giving a pretty sweet light show in the sky.

Los Arcos Puerto Vallarta
Los Arcos as seen from above

Snorkeling is one of many fun water-based activities that awaits you on a trip to Puerto Vallarta. With the ocean on one side and the Sierra Madre mountains on the other, you’ve got many outdoor adventure options to fill your days with incredible travel experiences.

Best of all, when you return from an adventure at sea or in the mountains, you can choose from the dozens of restaurants and nightlife the city offers. PV really is a little slice of paradise on the Pacific coast of Mexico!

Planning a trip to Puerto Vallarta? Don’t miss these posts!

best snorkeling tours puerto vallarta pin

Sasha is a teacher, writer, and video producer from Detroit, Michigan. He graduated from Michigan State (Go Green!) and has since lived in China, Indonesia, Mexico, and Colombia. Sasha and his wife Rachel run Grateful Gnomads, where they write about teaching ESL, digital nomad life, long-term travel, live music, and more.

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