Puerto Vallarta is the main diving destination in the Pacific Coast of Mexico although most of the dive sites are quite a distance from the resort area. Half of the dive sites are within the Banderas Bay while the other half surround offshore islands such as Los Arcos and the Marietas Islands. Underwater environments include caves, tunnels, rock formations and coral reefs.
Currents within the bay are mild and perfect for introductory dive courses. Advanced divers looking for a challenge can travel to the offshore islands where currents are heavier but the reward is greater.
Most diving in Puerto Vallarta takes place from small motorized speed boats, although some operators still use wooden pangas for their easy backwards roll.
Keep in mind that a 16% tax is levied on all scuba diving operations in Mexico.
This small fishing village to the south of Puerto Vallarta is home to spectacular drop-offs and hosts humpback whales and calves from April to December.
At the deepest point in Banderas Bay, Los Arcos National Marine Park features caves, deep tunnels, arches and a healthy reef full of marine life.
With depths up to 150 feet (50 meters), El Morro is more technical than most sites in Puerto Vallarta. It boasts huge manta rays and moray eels.
At the Marietas Islands advanced divers can see larger species who ride the currents from the distant blue, including mantas and whale sharks.
Pelagic species are most easily seen at offshore islands from November to May. June to October feature the warmest water temps and best visibility.