The History & Beauty Of Bahia de Banderas
Stretching from Cabo Corrientes in the South to Punta Mita in the North, the beautiful Bahia de Banderas is one of Mexico's largest and deepest bays. Since her discovery in the early 1500's locals and visitors have marveled at her beauty and biodiversity.
Bahia de Banderas, or Banderas Bay meaning Bay of Flags, was first discovered by outsiders in the form of Francisco Cortes de San Buenaventura around the year 1525. Historians claim that the name originates from the story that Spanish explorers were greeted by 20,000 natives holding feathered flags or “Banderas” as the Spanish fleet approached the bay’s shores. Geologists had concluded the Bahia de Banderas is most likely the original attachment point for the Souther cape of the Baja California Peninsula before it rifted off the North American Plate some millions of years ago, which formed the Gulf of California.
The geography and biodiversity of Bahia de Banderas make her beauty even more impressive. Towards her Southern point, Bahia de Banderas reaches depths of 3,000 feet. One of the wildest facts about this sea depth is that just in-land of the deepest part is where the Sierra Madre Mountains meet the Pacific. Going in-land by half a mile will get you to 2,000 feet of elevation up in the Sierra Madres. But going just a half-mile off-shore is where you can find depths of 3,000 feet in the bay. There is a 5,000-foot elevation change from the Sierra Madres to the Bahia de Banderas seafloor in just one mile.
The biodiversity is almost as staggering as the elevation change. The bay is home to an abundance of fish species, including large marlin, tuna, and sailfish. The bay is also home to many seabirds, sea mammals, and invertebrates, making Bahia de Banderas an incredible area for scuba divers to explore. But one of the most popular attractions in the bay is the mesmerizing whale watching during the winter months. As the temperatures of the Arctic waters begin to drop as winter sets in, whales start their migration 12,500 miles down the coast of Mexico to Bahia de Banderas, where the whales will mate and give birth before returning home. The largest congregation of whales is the Humpback Whales, but it is not unusual to spot some Grey or Blue Whales in the bay. While spectators have reported seeing some whales arriving as early as November, the prime time for whale watching off the coast of Vallarta is from December to mid-March. Check out the beautiful sights and sounds of Bahia de Banderas in this excellent Youtube video below: