In 1524, Spanish conquistador Francisco Cortés de Buenaventura arrived on the coast of this beautiful bay. Legends say that 20,000 warriors came down from the mountains above and assembled in the lush valley, into his path. Their bows, decorated with banners in a rainbow of colors, were so impressive that the Bay became known as the “Bay of Flags,” or Bahía de Banderas.
Today the Bay is sanctuary to sea life including giant manta rays, sea bass, red snapper, sailfish, marlin, dorado, dolphins and more. Humpback whales come each winter to birth their young, and Olive Ridley sea turtles return each year to the nesting grounds along its shores.
Banderas Bay is rimmed by Cabo Corrientes to the south and Punta de Mita to the north. The bird sanctuary and diving grounds of the Tres Marietas Islands greet sailors on the northern side entering the Bay, and to the south the Sierra Madre Mountains stand guard against storms, keeping Vallarta a safe haven year round. During the cruising season, winds from the northwest are usually light in morning and evening, with steady but brisk afternoon breezes.
The map below show various points of interest in Banderas Bay. Zoom for more detail