The Marías Islands, also called Tres Marías Islands, are a group of islands located in the Pacific Ocean 112 km from the coast of Nayarit, the same state to which they belong. There are four islands: María Madre, María Magdalena, María Cleofas and San Juanito.
Discovered in 1532 by Diego Hurtado de Mendoza and belonging to the audience of Nueva Galicia, the islands were private property for many years until Porfirio Díaz bought them in 1905 to make them a prison, a function they performed until February 18, 2019 and suppressed by a decree issued by Andrés Manuel López Obrador.
Today, the former federal prison has been converted into a tourist center and is part of the Islas Marías Biosphere Reserve whose objective is to promote nature tourism and, of course, visits to the famous prison. If San Francisco has Alcatraz (The Rock) as a great tourist attraction, Nayarit already has trips to the most famous prison in Mexico, with the advantage of having beautiful beaches.
This new tourist enclave is located in the Pacific Ocean and can be reached by boat through Puerto Balleto, located on María Madre Island, from San Blas (Nayarit) and Mazatlán (Sinaloa). However, as of November 2023, another route will be added from Boca de Chila (Nayarit), also arriving at Puerto Balleto.
According to the President of Mexico, during the inauguration on December 16, two “modern and comfortable” ships were purchased to cover these routes.
All these trips are part of a vacation package that includes, in addition to the trip, a two-night stay in Puerto Balleto. The accommodation offered is hostel type with double and single villas. Each of the packages will cost between 5,500 and 8,000 Mexican pesos (between 275 and 400 dollars). Prices may vary depending on the selection of seats on the ferry and the type of accommodation.
The islands have a total area of 252.6 km2. but all the activity centers on María Madre, the mayoress of the islands and Puerto Balleto, its main town with 186 inhabitants. The other islands are uninhabited.
Islas Marías is a very interesting tourist option that the Government of Mexico has rehabilitated and put on the table for tourist consumption, which today is one of the main factors of development in our country.