Islas Marías will be Open This Summer to Tourism

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Starting in July of this year, tourists will be able to take one-day excursions in boats to the island.

Since the Mexican federal government announced last March the opening of the Islas Marias as an educational tourist attraction, which was the last island-prison of the American continent, it has been on everyone's lips and promises to become the next summer boom in the Riviera Nayarit. Islas Marias is an archipelago of four islands: Cleofas, Maria Magdalena, San Juanito and Maria Madre, located about 120 km off the coast of San Blas. 

As of July 2021, Maria Madre Island, the main and most developed island, will be open to tourists as part of an environmentally responsible project. The "Muros de Agua-Jose Revueltas Environmental and Cultural Education Center," part of the Islas Marias/ Isla María Madre Integral Project, was presented by Mexico's federal government and is headed by the Ministry of the Navy. The Ministries of the Environment and of Tourism, and the National Commission of Natural Protected Areas are also involved, as well as a support council made up of the Federation and the state governments of Nayarit and Sinaloa.

According to the Secretary of Tourism (Sectur,) the zone known as Puerto Balleto will be accessible to national and international visitors in the modality of excursionists, that is to say, visitors will not be allowed to sleep on the site, and must stay less than 24 hours, since at the site there are no hotels and camping will not be allowed.


The Marias Islands were declared a Natural Protected Area in 2000, a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2005 and a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in 2010.


Excursionists may depart for the Marias Islands from San Blas in Nayarit, Puerto Vallarta in Jalisco, and Mazatlan in Sinaloa. Travel time will depend on the type of boat and could be between 4 and 6 hours. The Sectretaria de Marina, in charge of managing the site, informed that the ferries will anchor 870 meters southeast of Puerto Balleto, and from there small tender type boats will be aligned to the side, which from there will be boarded by visitors bound for the pier. 

Once on the island, visitors will have access to various attractions and activities, including visits to the Site Museum, where tourists will learn about the history of the prison. There will also be stops in downtown Puerto Balleto to visit the typical market, the handicrafts store, the souvenir shop, the Henequen museum, and the Benito Juarez square. For the more adventurous, bike rides are contemplated to explore the island on the other side of Puerto Balleto where the old airport is located. You can also hike to the monumental Christ, which as its name suggests, is a huge sculpture that can be admired from the sea.