Playa Escondida

Eye to the Sky


Useful Information

Location: Isla Redonda, Marieta Islands. The boats do not enter, it is necessary to swim 75m into the sea cave. (20.699, -105.585)
Open: All year Wed-Sun dusk-dawn.
117 people are allowed per day.
[2020]
Fee: Cave: free.
Boat: Per Person USD 150.
[2020]
Classification: Speleologysea cave
Light: n/a
Dimension: Opening: L=30m, W=23m. Lava Tube: L=40m.
Guided tours:
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no, 75m swimming necessary
Bibliography:
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As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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History

1900s Marieta Islands used for target practice by the Mexican military.
1960s Jacques Cousteau begins advocating for their protection.
2005 islands designated a national park.
2008 designated a UNESCO Man and Biosphere Reserve (MAB).
2016 officials declare the temporary closure of Hidden Beach due to bad tourism practices.
31-AUG-2016 beach reopened with strict visitation limits in place.

Description

Playa Escondida (hidden beach) is an impressive amphitheatre with a beach inside. Some call it a sea cave, although there is no cave, but it once was a huge sea cave before the roof collapsed. The remaining cave walls form an overhanging wall around the cave. Half of the cave is a beach with pristine, sugary white sand, the other half is turquoise sea water. The circular walls and the huge opening are the reason why this place is called eye to the sky. The hidden beach is a popular swimming and sunbathing spot, it is also called Playa del Amor (love beach or lovers beach).

The exceptional sea cave is located on Isla Redonda, one of the Marieta Islands in the Islas Marietas National Park. The marine life is protected from fishing and hunting by the Mexican government, as a result the islands are a popular tourist destination for swimming, diving, snorkeling, and whale watching. The small uninhabited islands are located a few kilometers off the coast of the state of Nayarit. They are 8km from the Punta de Mita peninsula, from which the islands can be reached in 15 minute boat ride from the Punta Mita resort. There are actually two similar collapsed sea caves on the island, only 200m apart. Playa Escondida is the eastern one and is connected by a 40m long tunnel to the sea, while the other is called El Arco and is connected ay an 9m wide natural bridge or arc.

The Marieta islands have never been inhabited by humans, only by wildlife. They were formed by volcanic activity during the Cretaceous. As initially suggested by Jacques Cousteau in the 1960s the islands are under strong nature protection. It is forbidden to land on the islands, and the Playa Escondida was closed for some time due to bad tourism habits, garbage and destruction of the reef. Visits are again possible and it is allowed to swim, but only with restrictions. The number of visitors per day is restricted to 117, to wear fins or scuba diving is prohibited. Only reef-friendly sunscreens are permitted, that are free from oxybenzone and octinoxate. Five operators have permission to take groups to the Marietas Islands. Tickets are often sold out, typically it is necessary to book a month in advance. The best way is to use an online booking portal like viator.com.