SEE IT TO BELIEVE IT IN THE RIVIERA NAYARIT: Isla del Coral, a Gift from Nature

  • This oasis with its white sand, turquoise water, and coral reefs is located just across the beach at Rincón de Guayabitos—and it’s the perfect spot for water sports and fun.

Just 3 kilometers (less than 2 miles) from Rincón de Guayabitos, also known as the Heart of the Riviera Nayarit, lies an oasis of white sand, turquoise water, and coral reefs. This is Isla del Coral—Coral Island—a 12-hectare (30-acre) isle that has become an icon of the Rincón de Guayabitos-Los Ayala-La Peñita de Jaltemba tourism corridor.

Located in the municipality of Compostela in Nayarit right in Jaltemba Bay, Isla del Coral can justly be called a natural aquarium thanks to its amazing variety of flora and fauna. Here it’s not hard to see manta rays, turtles, starfish, and all kinds of multi-colored fish in its crystal-clear water. The beach is soft and sandy with a pearlized finish, bathed by clean, gentle waves—even though this is the Pacific, it looks very much like the Caribbean coastline, thus its nickname: “Mini Cancun.”

In 2016 it received the Clean Beach certification on behalf of the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (Semarnat).

How to get there
To reach the island you have to hop onboard a panga, a local motorboat (some even have glass bottoms.) You can hire one at the Sociedad Cooperativa de Producción de Servicios Turísticos Bahía de Banderas(Bahía de Banderas Coop Society for the Production of Tourism Services) at La Peñita de Jaltemba, Rincón de Guayabitos, or Los Ayala. The average price for the trip is about $180 – $230 pesos per person.

Or you can contact Xplore Mexico, one of the tour operators that organizes excursions to the island. Their itineraries leave from Lo de Marcos, a village between San Pancho and Rincón de Guayabitos (about 15 minutes away from the latter).

As you’re getting nearer, you’ll be treated to an unforgettable sight: the water begins to change color from steel blue to emerald followed by turquoise. Then the island comes into view, an emerald-green silhouette against the sky. As you arrive at the small dock you’ll see flocks of birds wheeling in the sky; if you look down, you’ll catch sight of schools of colorful fish, sea anemones, jellyfish, and even a turtle or two. If you’re lucky, you’ll see a humpback whale—provided, of course, that you’re there during the season, which in the Pacific runs from November through March.

An underwater virgin
As if all that weren’t enough, the island has another added attraction: a submerged virgin. This the Virgin of the Immaculate Conception, a statue measuring 1.60 m (5.2 ft) from its base. It was created by a concrete sculptor from Jalisco and though it was originally placed on the island in a special niche created just for her, about a decade ago they decided she would be safer underwater, thus becoming the guide and patron saint for the local fishermen. Many of the boat owners have put glass bottoms on their boats for better viewing, although on days when the water is transparent you can see her right through the waves.

What to do
Isla del Coral is the perfect place for water sports and activities. Thanks to its calm waves, clear waters, and variety of underwater fauna, visitors can enjoy stand up paddle boarding, kayaking, snorkeling, and diving. Bird watching is also a great pastime and, of course, you can simply swim around this oasis and enjoy is gorgeous natural scenery.

This is, undoubtedly, one of the top natural attractions in the Riviera Nayarit, a true gift of Nature that charms the senses of tourists both national and foreign. You’re going to love it!

What to know:
+ Isla del Coral is considered an eco-reserve because of its extensive variety of flora and fauna.
+ This is a coral reef area, so we recommend responsible diving.
+ We recommend taking the safety equipment necessary for whatever activity you choose to do, including water shoes to avoid cutting your feet on the surrounding coral.
+ Don’t forget to respect any species you might encounter by not interfering with them.

The Riviera Nayarit Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) and the Bahía de Banderas Hotel and Motel Association (AHMBB) work hard to promote the destination with the support of the Government of the State of Nayarit via its Tourism Promotional Trust (Fiprotur). The cultural tourism product offer is an invaluable asset for these promotional efforts.

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