Mexico’s Pacific Ocean coast spans over a thousand miles, and that’s not even including all the bays, coves and the long Sea of Cortez to the north.
For anyone who loves to scuba dive, Mexico is a haven for exploration. Its rocky shores boast walls, underwater canyons and plenty of nooks and crannies to explore. Although the Pacific waters have stronger currents and colder waters when compared with the calm, warm waters of the Caribbean and the Gulf coast, there is still much beauty to be seen in this unique underwater world.
The small Mexican state of Nayarit lies on the coast just north of Puerto Vallarta and offers some great places to explore. Islas Marias are 4 beautiful islands just 100km off-shore that are still used as penal colonies, and the water surrounding the islands are classified as a biosphere reserve.
Dive sites around these islands can be accessed by certain dive operators in the Puerto Vallarta area. Sayulita is a small surf town in the coastal state of Nayarit which is a great place to stop by for an afternoon or evening. Heading south from Sayulita is the state of Jalisco where you’ll find Banderas Bay and Puerto Vallarta as well as many other small towns that lie right on the bay.
Puerto Vallarta is a great place for families to vacation as it offers amazing food, shopping opportunities and of course great beaches and diving.
Continuing south along the coast will take you to the state of Colima, a small but highly populated state that boasts one of Mexico’s biggest ports. Manzanillo is a major port serving the inland areas of Mexico City and it is a city steeped in history with fantastic museums to explore. The city is well-known as the world’s sailfish capital and a number of world renowned sailfish fishing tournaments are held here each year. Dive shops and boat operators who arrange fishing trips for these competitions know the waters well are and well-suited and always willing to assist with scuba diving trips for tourists.
Mexico’s Pacific resort towns have been in existence for centuries and offer an old-school charm that can’t be found in the likes of Cancun. Towns such as Acapulco, Puerto Vallarta and Manzanillo offer a great deal of character and history and should certainly be considered when considering a diving holiday in Mexico.
Marine Environment & Dive Sites
Although the diving might be cold in the Pacific waters surrounding Mexico, it’s certainly worth it. With many established dive sites around the main resort cities, there’s much to see and enough dive operators to help you see it all. The resort towns offer plenty of historical charm to the area, not to mention an abundance of exotic foods to try.
For a number of dive sites in close proximity to one another, head to Banderas Bay in Puerto Vallarta. La Corbetena is a dive site just off shore and northwest of the Punta de Mita peninsula. To the south of this peninsula lie El Morro and Islas Marietas. On the southern edge of Banderas Bay you’ll find the El Chimo, Los Arcos and Majahuitas dive sites.
For beginner divers or novices looking to gain practical experience or gain certifications, Manzanillo Bay is a great choice. Right in front of Hotel Tesoro is a shore dive known as Playa la Audiencia which is well worth a visit. The surge tends to be strong before you pass the waves, but thereafter you’re likely to see moray eels, Cortez angelfish, trumpet fish and so much more. The maximum depth is only 60 feet and so this dive is well-suited to beginner divers. The nearby shore dive of Club de Yates, aptly named since it is located at the end of Club de Yates Street, is a hub for sea turtle sightings as well as yellowtail surgeonfish and spotted eagle rays.
Manzillo has a famous shipwreck, the San Luciano, which is very popular with divers of all abilities and snorkelers too. The ship lies in only 25 feet of water having been washed up onto the shore by a hurricane in 1959. The San Luciano is 300 feet long and has a number of compartments that can be explored by more advanced divers.
How to get there?
With Mexico’s Pacific Coastline being so far-reaching, the best method of reaching these areas is to make use of Mexico City’s airport, Internacional Benito Juarez (MEX).
Many of the coastal towns popular with tourists have their own airports which see relatively high traffic, and so connecting with these and then adding a rental car to your traveling plans is usually the best bet. For those wanting to visit the Pacific coast cities, make use of Mazatlan’s General Rafael Buelna International Airport (MZT), Acapulco’s General Juan N. Alvarez International Airport (ACA) or Puerto Vallarta’s Licenciado Gustavo Díaz Ordaz International Airport (PVR). There is also the option of flying into Guadalajara and making use of the airport there (Don Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla International Airport – GDL) which puts you in a good position to explore the Pacific coastline that Mexico has to offer. It is also possible to fly from large cities in the US, such as Los Angeles (LAX) or even from South American or Central American cities.
In terms of arranging diving adventures along Mexico’s Pacific Coast, there is no shortage of dive operators and boat rental facilities that can help. Trusted dive shops, dive instructors and dive captains operate out of Puerto Vallarta, Banderas Bay, Manzanilla and La Crucecita to name just a few of the many popular places to dive.