White sand beaches and beautiful blue water are de rigueur in Mexico. But this hidden beach, specifically Playa del Amor (which translates to the Beach of Love), is far and away the best beach Mexico has to offer. Why? Because you can only access it by swimming through a tunnel that connects it to the ocean. Excuse us while we go find our flippers.
Located in the Marieta Islands near Puerto Vallarta, Playa del Amor is a popular tourist destination and an even more popular one on Pinterest. It was even named one of the 21 best beaches in the world by National Geographic.
The tunnel that connects the hidden beach to the Sea of Cortez is about six feet above sea level, so you can choose between kayaking or swimming through the naturally occurring channel. The Sea of Cortez is well known for its varied sea life, so keep an eye out for brightly colored corals, fish and other inhabitants—some visitors to the beach have even reported seeing whales.
Once you emerge from the tunnel, you’ll be greeted by an almost perfectly circular hole in the earth that lets the sunlight stream through onto the soft white sand, turning the water into a Crayola shade of turquoise. Though you’ll have to share the space with other tourists, it has been kept pristine thanks to the efforts of naturalists and conservationists.
Famed scientist Jacques Cousteau was instrumental in working to protect the Marieta Islands from human destruction, and they became a protected national park in 2005. Today, you can only swim, kayak or sunbathe inside the park.
The Marieta Islands are about an hour-long boat ride from the mainland of Puerto Vallarta. There are a number of tour companies that provide one-day excursions to Playa del Amor.
If you can’t make the trip, feel free to crank up your thermostat and peruse Instagram and Pinterest for soothing pictures of the beach’s crystal waters and white sand. It’ll almost feel like you’re there.
You can also check out this video one traveler made of her trip to Playa del Amor for a more immersive experience. We know we’re feeling more relaxed already.