A little archipelago in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Mexico that housed a penal colony until 2019 is almost ready to welcome tourists to its remote beaches.
Getting to the Marias Islands is a challenge by itself as visitors must spend four hours on a boat. The Secretary of the Navy (Secretaria de la Marina) has promised to make things easier in the future but for the time being this is the only way to get to the islands.
On April 9, Mexican President Manuel López Obrador said that the prison island would be converted into a tourist destination and that it may be open to the public in a matter of months.
However, an exact date for visiting the famed prison is yet to be released. It is believed to be near the end of 2022.
The prison, located 100 kilometers off the coast of Nayarit, has been trying to reinvent itself for the past 3 years.
Initially, it served as an environmental education center, housing and training 153 young people. Now it aspires to become an ecotourism destination for bird watching and its beaches.
Visitors to the island will be able to learn about the island’s extensive history as well as spend the night in one of the former jail buildings.
The structures, which housed both prisoners and prison staff, are currently being restored in order to avoid the construction of new infrastructure that could endanger the environment.
The president has also stated that visits to the islands will be restricted to protect the ecosystem.
The idea is that most of the guests will visit the island in the morning and then leave in the afternoon.
The Marías Islands were home to some of Mexico’s most feared and isolated prisoners. It was opened in the middle of the Porfiriato, in 1905, and closed in 2019.
Famous personalities such as the writer and political activist José Revueltas died in the prison’s cells. and in total, during the time it functioned as a prison, it housed about 45,000 prisoners.