Exploring the History of Marietas Islands

This volcanic archipelago went from a military testing ground to a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve

Nestled off the captivating shores of Riviera Nayarit, the Marietas Islands stand as a testament to nature's endurance, having weathered the relentless forces of winds and waves for thousands of years.

These two uninhabited islands, shrouded in tranquil seclusion, harbor a remarkable history that transcends the serene facade visible to today's visitors.

marietas islands mexico

A Testing Ground for the Military: The 1900s Saga

In the tumultuous era of the 1900s, the Marietas Islands underwent an unexpected and somewhat unsettling transformation. Their quiet seclusion drew the attention of the Mexican military, which saw in them an ideal testing spot, even going so far as to designate them as a target for bombing practice.

It was a chapter that could have spelled disaster for these pristine islands but unintentionally created one of the features that make the Marietas Islands a unique place: a series of caverns and holes on its surface.

One of these craters formed the iconic Hidden Beach, which, almost a century later, would make the Marietas Islands one of Mexico's most sought-after places to visit.

marietas islands hidden beach

The Conservation Crusade: Jacques Cousteau's Impact

Thankfully, the tide turned in favor of the Marieta Islands, thanks to the dedicated efforts of naturalists, including the legendary Jacques Cousteau, in the 1960s.

Their work played a pivotal role in shielding these islands from further military testing and paved the way for a new chapter in the islands' history—one marked by conservation and preservation.

blue footed bobby bird at marietas islands

National Park Recognition: A turning point in Marietas Islands' history

In 2005, the Marietas Islands received official recognition from the Mexican government as a National Park. This crucial designation brought about significant changes, with the prohibition of fishing and a limitation on human activities within the islands' confines.

It marked the beginning of a sanctuary where wildlife could not only survive but also thrive without the looming threat of human interference.


wild dolphins at marietas islands

UNESCO's Seal of Approval: Marietas as a Biosphere Reserve

The pinnacle of recognition arrived in 2008 when UNESCO bestowed the title of Biosphere Reserve upon the Marietas Islands.

This prestigious acknowledgment not only celebrated the islands' natural beauty but also committed to ensuring their protection for generations to come. It signified a global commitment to preserving the unique ecosystem that has evolved undisturbed on these islands.

eco tour marietas islands

Embracing a Future of Preservation

As we delve into the captivating history of the Marietas Islands, we witness a remarkable transformation—from a military testing ground to a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. Today, these islands not only stand as a testament to the resiliency of nature but also serve as a beacon of hope for the importance of conservation efforts worldwide.

As visitors explore the pristine waters and lush landscapes of the Marietas Islands, they become a part of a legacy—one that strives to protect and cherish the wonders of our natural world.

marietas eco tour


Join us on an unrivaled Marietas Islands tour

For an authentic eco tour to admire Marietas Islands' underwater life, join us on our family-friendly Marietas EcoDiscovery adventure. This all-inclusive journey includes deli-style lunch, open bar and a stop at the gorgeous Majahuitas beach.

islas marietas tour

But if you are looking for a visit to the most photographed feature, the famous Marietas Islands' Hidden Beach, reserve your spot at our small-group Island Discovery excursion.

Regardless of the option you choose, your Puerto Vallarta vacation is the ideal opportunity to visit this unspoiled natural reserve.



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