Brand-New Travel Destination: The “Mexican Alcatraz” Island Is Now Welcoming Tourists

Brand-New Travel Destination: The “Mexican Alcatraz” Is Now Welcoming Tourists

This brand-new tourist destination on the Pacific coast of the Mexican state of Nayarit was a prison from 1905 to 2019. It is part of an archipelago that includes the islands of Maria Magdalena, Maria Cleofas and San Juanito, which UNESCO declared a Biosphere Reserve in 2010.

To get to the Islas Marías resort, take a ferry from the ports of Mazatlán (Sinaloa) or San Blas, Nayarit, which takes three hours to reach the Mexican Navy-operated resort’s destination, Puerto Balleto (71 miles away).

The tourist-friendly all-inclusive packages include two nights in double or single villas in Puerto Balleto, as well as breakfast and a buffet lunch at the restaurant. The former governor’s house, the lighthouse, the Guadalupe Temple, Chapingo Beach, the Punta Halcones viewpoint, the cemetery, the town’s museum, the old salt flats, the Calera, Christ the Redeemer Hill, from which visitors can enjoy a majestic view of the Pacific Ocean, and even an evening experience to admire the constellations with a professional explanation, are among the experiences that visitors can look forward to.

There are 54 species of protected land and marine wildlife in the Islas Marías biosphere reserve, 19 of which are endemic species such the yellow-headed parrot, raccoons, and rabbits. In addition, a variety of birds, including pelicans and blue-footed booby birds, can be observed from the coast, in addition to sharks, humpback whales, and dolphins.

Visitors to Playa Chapingo can unwind in hammocks on the beach, participate in sports such as beach soccer and volleyball, snorkel in a part of the ocean protected by shark nets, and have their safety ensured by knowledgeable lifeguards.

Friendly and accommodating tour guides are on hand to assist tourists and take them in comfortable vehicles to the various sites of the former prison. The visit to the cemetery is characterized by the fact that visitors can see the graves of important personalities who were imprisoned in the Mexican Alcatraz.

The ruins of a Maximum Security Prison that was abandoned in 2013 are one of the tour’s most thrilling places of interest. The cells, showers, eating areas, and exercise spaces used by Mexico’s most dangerous offenders are open to visitors.

For those interested in culture, there is a museum in the tourist center Islas Marías, which documents 115 years of history in modern exhibition rooms. 

Ono is dedicated to famous prisoners, such as José Revueltas, a writer who spent many years there as a political prisoner and wrote some of his most famous writings from there