If you are planning on traveling to the vacation destination of Puerto Vallarta, you do not want to miss snorkeling at the dive site with the widest biodiversity of underwater species in Banderas Bay: Los Arcos. This protected marine sanctuary is known for its dramatic granite islands that rise high from the surface of Bahia de Banderas. Los Arcos, or "The Arches" in English, is one of the most iconic natural landmarks in the region. Its signature arches create tunnels both above and below the surface of the water. Underwater cavers are also carved into the granite below the surface. This marine preserve's unusual geology and geography make it a truly unique snorkeling and diving destination not only in Banderas Bay but in the whole world. Bird watching enthusiasts also venture to these rocky isles to witness a rare population of sea birds who make their nests here.
The shallower coral reefs located near the islands offer the perfect environment for snorkeling. A wide variety of brilliantly hued tropical fish often dart in and out amongst the coral. You may spot other marine species as well, like an octopus, a sea turtle, a lobster, or even a delicate sea horse.
One of the best features of Los Arcos is its relative proximity to Puerto Vallarta, Nuevo Vallarta and Marina Vallarta. Los Arcos is the closest premier dive spot, giving tour participants less travel time on the boat and more time to enjoy the marvelous underwater world in Banderas Bay. Because of its nearness to the docks, there are often abbreviated half day tours (usually around four hours) to one of the best dive sites on the globe. A half day excursion out to Los Arcos for scuba diving, snorkeling or bird watching, is perfect for that tight cruise ship stopover schedule. Cruise passengers often choose to visit Los Arcos for this reason. And because Los Arcos is located deep within the confines of the Bay of Banderas, the water temperature tends to be much warmer than the dive sites located closer to the Pacific Ocean. The water temperature near the surface by Los Arcos is often up to five degrees warmer than other popular diving sites in Banderas Bay.
Los Arcos is well-renowned as a world-class scuba diving destination. The massive granite walls of the islands not only rise high above the surface of Banderas Bay, but also descend far into the depths. The most dramatic example of these incredible submerged walls at the Los Arcos Marine Preserve is the awe-inspiring Devil's Jaw, a seemingly endless drop eighteen hundred feet into the depths of the Bay. This impressive wall can only be challenged by advanced divers, and what a challenge. But you do not need to be a highly experienced diver to experience Los Arcos. There are a variety of dive spots in this amazing aquatic refuge for divers of all levels, from novice divers to the savviest veteran scuba divers. Los Arcos is also a popular night dive spot, where divers can witness majestic eagle rays gliding through the depths while feeding.