The iconic tandem of granite islands protruding from the sea surface marks the beautiful domain of Los Arcos de Mismaloya (The Arches of Mismaloya). This geological marvel located along the south in the Banderas Bay, Los Arcos Puerto Vallarta has become a point of attraction for visiting boats in Vallarta where folks spend their time swimming, snorkeling and observing nature.
The Mismaloya Beach helped transform Puerto Vallarta from a small, sleepy fishing village to a world-renowned tourist destination. When the Irish-American film director John Huston went to Puerto Vallarta in the 1960s in search of a prospective location for the movie “The Night of the Iguana,” he was urged by an architect and entrepreneur named Guillermo Wulff to visit Mismaloya. Huston was convinced that its wide beach and the tropical forest would make a perfect background for the movie and several months later, the filming began starring big Hollywood stars like Deborah Kerr, Ava Gardner, Sue Lyon, and Richard Burton. Charmed by Puerto Vallarta’s innate beauty, celebrity couple Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton built a villa in the small village which eventually lured the international press. The “secret hideaway” of the stars became the talk of the town and was quickly consumed by the growing demands of tourism.
At present, the Mismaloya Beach is visited by many boats and tourists come here to bask in the sun, appreciate the stunning scenery, and enjoy water activities like swimming, snorkeling, fishing, sailing, and more. Mismaloya is like a mini-bay with clear and gentle waters which make it a safe place to swim for families. When you get hungry from your activities, you can check out the different restaurants in the area which serve good food at reasonable prices.
This 500-meter long beach is surrounded by the sea, sand, lush jungle, and a small river that breaks the beach into two parts. The surrounding mountain jungle is home to a different variety of birds, deer, puma, jaguar, monkeys, quails, armadillos, and other species.
“The Arches” has been a protected National Marine Park since 1984 to conserve its diverse wildlife including exotic birds like parrots, pelicans and boobies that use the park as their favorite breeding ground. It doesn’t come as a surprise that bird watching is one of the top fun activities in this location so if you’re planning to go here, a pair of binoculars would definitely come in handy to appreciate the different kinds of feathered creatures. Observing birds in the wild will not only enrich your knowledge of various species but it can also be a relaxing pastime that you can enjoy with other nature enthusiasts.
Bird watching is best done in the morning from 6:00 am to 1:00 pm when the birds are most active. Keep your eyes open for the magnificent frigate birds which are famous for their aerial acrobatic antics. Tagged as the “condor of the oceans” because of their exceptionally large wingspan, the magnificent frigate birds have incredible maneuverability in the air and you might chance upon these aerial bandits in the act of stealing food from other birds. Other interesting species in the islands are the blue-footed boobies, and like their namesake, stand out for their fabulous blue-colored feet. During mating rituals, the males show off their blue feet to impress prospective mates and both sexes use their webbed feet to keep their young safe and warm. The park is also a sanctuary for several species of parrots like the Military Macaws, which are threatened due to habitat destruction and illegal trafficking. The Military Macaws are protected in the park and local initiatives aim to preserve and help them boost their number in the wild.
This protected marine park features several small islands, tunnels, caves, arches, and coral reefs that are teeming with wildlife; thus making it an excellent site for snorkeling.
If you’re into B-movies, you might find it interesting that Los Arcos de Mismaloya was featured in the movie, “Sharktopus” in 2010, a film about a genetically modified shark. Don’t worry, this ridiculous creature is just a figment of the movie writer’s imagination and exists only on the screen.
In reality, the Los Arcos underwater park is home to different marine life including parrot fish, puffer fish, angelfish, needlefish, cornet fish, clown fish, lobster, rays, octopus, and more. In this marine oasis, you can come face to face with beautiful corals and explore its unique underwater scenery.
If you find yourself intrigued by Los Arcos de Mismaloya, you can charter a sailing yacht in Puerto Vallarta and head there with your family and friends on your next holiday vacation.