A lot is happening on Stone Island (Isla de la Piedra in Spanish), an islandlike peninsula just a stone’s throw from downtown Mazatlan in Sinaloa, Mexico. A botanical garden opened on one end, but now, more than two years later, it is still a well-kept secret. Even longtime residents don’t know about it.

The formal name of the garden is Amaitlan, and it is part of a real-estate development that now appears to be dormant. The gardens are well-built, with stone pathways and benches to enjoy as one takes in the different views. The first time I was there I saw only a handful of egrets, but during my most recent visit I saw some 30 take flight. It was breathtaking.

The gardens stretch over nearly five acres and feature five different botanical environments, including a butterfly garden, a cactus garden and a tropical fruit garden. One could crisscross the garden in 20 minutes or spend two hours relaxing and strolling through the grounds.

“Tranquility — that is what you experience at the gardens,” said Portland resident Lori McDougall after a recent visit.

Don’t be surprised to see young women in gowns followed by photographers. The garden is a popular backdrop for wedding photography and photography of young women about to celebrate their traditional Quincinera – the coming-of-age party for Mexican girls on their 15th birthday.

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