One of the spots we make frequent stops at is the “The Los Arcos National Marine Park” which is located just between the Mismaloya and Las Gemelas. This area has many cool caves, arches and breathtaking reefs with all kinds of Marine Life to see. Ask the crew to put some bread into a 2 liter bottle, when the bread shoots out, thousands of fish swarm the area, it is really an awesome site to be seen. The average depth of Los Arcos lies between 30 and 1,600 feet (somewhere between 9 and 480 meters), making this the deepest waters of the bay.
This area is protected for the reproduction of various seabirds such as pelicans, bobos and some species of parrots, among others. Because of the depth many divers use this area for scuba diving and so many tour boats arrive here daily with large groups for snorkeling. If you want to take a look in the water, no problem, Los Arcos has many moorings so it is easy for us to stop. Many just like to drive by and capture some incredible photos of the formations and then get away from the crowds of people as many tour companies and boats that make this a daily stop.
Here is a bit of history about Los Arcos, many years ago these magnificent natural formations of the bay were called “Las Peñas”. Until John Huston decided to film the movie “Night of the Iguana” in the early 60’s. Many shots of the arches were featured in the movie as well as the movie was the turning point for Puerto Vallarta that started the tourist rush. It was at this point the name was changed officially to Los Arcos of Mismaloya. To find out more about the making of the Night of The Iguana go to www.astolenparadise.com. A local author wrote all the details of the making of that movie and the impacts it had on Puerto Vallarta.
The GPS coordinates for Los Arcos is • Location: 20 ° 32 ’30 “to 20 ° 33′ 00” North | 105 ° 17 ’00 “105 ° 17′ 45” West
The protected area covers a region of 30 hectares. There are five rock formations with heights between 5 and 50 meters above sea level and three of them form the natural arch we know as Los Arcos.
All of our charters that are going to the south will always make a pass by these beautiful arches if you ask them for a stop. You can get some beautiful pictures here. However for the official snorkeling stop, I suggest waiting until we get to an even more incredible place for some amazing snorkeling. Although we are happy to let you have a look. It is a natural wonder of Banderas Bay!