At Los Arcos National Marine Park in Puerto Vallarta there are islands to visit, reefs to dive, tunnels to swim through, and caves to explore, providing plenty of the arches that give Los Arcos (the Arches) its name. This protected area is famous for its abundant wildlife, both above and below the ocean’s surface, and is a popular snorkeling spot.
Los Arcos is reachable only by boat, and most visitors arrive as part of a Puerto Vallarta day cruise that includes relaxing at sea and snorkeling in the caves of Los Arcos. The marine life is stupendously varied, from clown and puffer fish to rays and sea turtles. Sightseeing cruises typically also visit other must-see Puerto Vallarta attractions, such as the malecon (waterfront promenade), Romantic Zone, and Mismaloya Beach. There are also small-group snorkeling tours and popular South Shore private sightseeing cruises. Puerto Vallarta city highlights tours let you view Los Arcos from the shore and include hotel pickup and drop-off.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Los Arcos is a must-see for nature and wildlife lovers, and first-time visitors to Puerto Vallarta.
- Bring sunblock and a hat or sunglasses, as there’s little shade out on the bay. Also wear comfortable clothing, and tote a bathing suit, towel, and change of clothes.
- Snorkeling gear is provided on most Puerto Vallarta boat tours; bring your own if visiting independently.
How to Get There
Los Arcos lies off the coast of Mismaloya, in the south of Banderas Bay. The easiest way to reach Los Arcos is on a snorkeling or sightseeing tour. Cruise boats head out to Los Arcos from the Puerto Vallarta malecon and Marine Terminal.
When to Get There
Los Arcos Marine Park is lovely year-round. Arrive early if you want to beat the crowds, especially during Puerto Vallarta’s high season (winter). Spring and fall strike a nice balance between pleasant weather and manageable crowds. Wet weather is likely from July through September.
A small sandy beach on a picturesque jungle-fringed cove, Mismaloya sits just south of Puerto Vallarta along the coast of Banderas Bay. In 1964, John Huston’s movie The Night of the Iguana put this now-famous beach town on the map. A popular day trip from Puerto Vallarta, it offers several seafood restaurants, thatched-roof palapas, and one large resort.