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Puerto Vallarta scuba diving

March 14, 2019 by Justin

Puerto Vallarta is one of the most highly rated scuba diving destinations in the world.

The World Diving Review describes Puerto Vallarta as “a rare treat”, and the Marietas Islands as “ideal” for scuba diving. The Marietas islands have been classified as a protected underwater national park.

Much of the scuba diving in Puerto Vallarta takes place along the underwater reserve in the south of Banderas Bay. These start from Los Arcos (near Conchas Chinas ) and include Mismaloya, Boca de Tomatlan, Colomitos, Quimixto, Caletas, Caletillas, Majahuitas, Cerro Bola, Colimillas, and Yelapa.

Many of the scuba diving sites feature drop-offs, shallow reefs, small shallow caves, many pinnacles, volcanic rock formations making it very attractive for drift diving, blue water diving, and cave diving.

Between the months of July and November, it can be your chance to see the great Pacific Manta as they visit the area, further out in the Banderas Bay. Deeper water scuba locations are El Morro, Chimo, Los Anegados, Las Iglesias, Potrerillo and La Corbeteña which are considered world class to scuba diving sites.

So, whether you are a native or an expert diver, Puerto Vallarta is full of opportunity.

Puerto Vallarta scuba diving map

Puerto Vallarta scuba diving locations and sites



Depth: 6 – 30 m 

Navigation time: 40 minutes. 

Close to Yelapa on the map, Majahuitas is a good choice for beginner divers and families trying diving and snorkeling. Majahuitas is a favorite place for the giant Manta Ray that can grow to reach a span of 7 meters. It is also common to see the Olive Ridley turtle near Majahuitas.


Los Arcos / Mismaloya beach

Depth: 5 to 38 meters

Navigation Time: 20 minutes

The waters around Los Arcos are the deepest in the Banderas Bay and there are several sites their own unique aspects. The picture below shows the “tip of the granite island” that extends far and wide in the southern part of the Bay. Depending on your scuba diving experience there are a few different sites to experience.

puerto vallarta scuba diving

There are three large rocks protruding above the water known as Los Arcos rock, Turtle’s rock, and Devil’s rock. 

There are 4 main sites near Los Arcos

The Aquarius  

With a depth of between 3 and 10 meters, with a low, flat sea bottom, it makes it an excellent site for beginners and experienced divers warming up. Typically divers enjoy schools of tropical fish such as angelfish, surgeons, butterflies, balloon fish, idol fish, horns and trumpets, sea urchins, stars, and seahorses. 

A night dive near Los Arcos

The Wall

Divers can go to depths of between 3 and 32 meters and it is a good place for divers of some experience. The Wall has thermo-climates and small currents that will offer changes in the type of fauna available. 

The Devil’s Canyon 

For expert divers only, the Devil’s Canyon does to depths of 600 meters and by far the deepest part of the Bay. Advanced certified divers can go to a maximum of 30 meters. Well recognized as a beautiful and exciting site.

Under Christ

Under Christ is a beautiful reef that begins only 4 meters from the surface and drops to a maximum depth of 35 meters. Large schools of tropical fish, turtles, and small caverns with varied crustaceans can be observed. 



Depth: 6 to 40 meters

Navigation Time: 45 minutes

Colomitos is perhaps the closest scuba diving site to Puerto Vallarta in the south of the Banderas Bay and only accessible by a long hike or by boat. It has a small, cozy beach with many beautiful waterfalls close by. Here at Colomitos, diving is done at a distance of just 32 meters from the shore of the beach. Dives start with a depth of about 6 meters and progress to 14 meters for less experienced divers and a maximum of 39 meters for experienced divers. The main advantages here are a well-protected beautiful site with very good visibility. It is sometimes used as an alternative site when sea conditions in other parts of the bay are not good. 

puerto vallarta beaches


El Chimo & Las Iglesias

Depth: 20 – 40 meters

Navigation time: 1.5 – 2 hours.

El Chimo and Las Iglesias, in the south of the Banderas Bay, are considered sites for experienced divers only. El Chimo is offshore from a small fishing village with the same name. It’an excellent place for huge schools of reef fish, moray eels, corals, sponges, and turtles can be seen often. Las Iglesias is named after two openings in the rock formations which resemble the enter of a church. Large Manta Ray’s are commonly spotted here. 



Marietas Islands

Depth: 9 – 30 m 

Navigation Time: 45 minutes 

The Marietas islands are most famous for it’s “hidden beach” which can only be accessed by sea, by swimming through a tunnel in the rocks into a very picturesque underground beach. But the Marietas island are also a fantastic site for snorkeling and scuba diving.

The islands were formed by volcanic rocks and have many small caves, cracks, and caverns to enjoy. Rocky reefs are everywhere, soft sea currents and sandy bottoms below.  


El Morro

Depth: 8 – 40 meters 

Navigation time: 1:30 hours 

El Morro is a small islet, far out of the Banderas Bay in open water. It is considered one of the most exciting sites for experienced scuba divers. It is common to encounter cat sharks asleep in the small caves, giant Manta Rays, turtles, and countless schools of tropical fish. El Morro usually has moderate currents, and because of its depth, it is not recommended for less experienced divers.


La Corbetena

Depth: 5 – 21 m 

Navigation time: 1:30 hours

When La Corbetena has good visibility it is considered a paradise, full of low small arcs, surrounded by many schools of tropical fish, catsharks, and turtles.

puerto vallarta scuba diving

Scuba Diving Instruction For Children and Adults

It’s most important to be safe so many of the scuba diving charters will provide “touch-up” training for those who have experience scuba diving but haven’t done it often. There’s also week-long training available for those who are new and would like to ease themselves into it. This involves classroom sessions and pool sessions to help learners get used to the equipment.


Scuba Diving Equipment

Usually, it’s a lot easier to rent all the necessary equipment from your scuba tour agent. They will have all the tanks, snorkeling equipment, masks, suits, and fins. It is also possible to use your own equipment once it passes visual inspection. 


Perhaps you would like to know more about Puerto Vallarta Snorkeling

For everything about Puerto Vallarta see our complete guide: Things to do in Puerto Vallarta

See more images and inspiration on our Pinterest below

Puerto Vallarta scuba diving

  • Choose a boat and date