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Top Snorkeling Spots in the Galapagos Islands

Immerse yourself in an underwater world unlike anything you’ve ever seen. The Galapagos Marine Reserve has been named one of the wonders of the underwater world, and rightfully so – with thousands of vibrant species of fish, coral, and sea life, it will leave any snorkeling explorer breathless? and not just because you’re underwater.

An essential part of every Galapagos vacation is snorkeling – it allows people of all skill levels to witness the rainbow of marine life that is hiding just beneath the surface in the crystal waters of the Galapagos Islands.

For those lucky enough to visit all corners of the Galapagos, you will see completely different marine ecosystems around each island. However, it is more likely that your cruise or tour will only focus on one specific region of the Galapagos, so if snorkeling is important for you, then know which areas are the best spots to see exactly what you want to see.

We have procured this list of the best spots to snorkel in the Galapagos Islands and what you can anticipate finding in each one. Your bilingual, naturalist guide will give briefings every night before you head out as well, so that you can identify the various species that you see.

Most of the spots are only accessible by dinghy, and Devil’s Crown is only available on certain cruises (not from land-based tours). When planning your trip, if you have your heart set on one of these sites, you should verify with your operator if your itinerary includes it.

The National Park approves the sites in advance based on traffic, availability, and conservation considerations, so changing sites during your trip will not be an option.

Dive spotIslandTour regionWhat to expect
Punta Espinosa Fernandina Island Western IslandsSea lions, Marine iguanas, Sea turtles, Penguins, Flightless cormorant, Dolphins, Humpback and Orca whales (in season)
Tagus Cove Isabela Island Western IslandsFloor of green algae, Sea turtles, Marine iguanas, Penguins, Flightless cormorant, Sea horses, Port Jackson shark, rockfish
Punta Vicente Roca Isabela Island Western IslandsMoonfish, Frogfish, Sea horses, Hinge beak prawns, Red-lipped batfish, Sea turtles, Sea lions
Los Tuneles Isabela Island Western IslandsInteresting submarine rock formations, Penguins, Sea turtles, Blue-footed boobies, Rays, Tropical fish, Sea lions, White-tipped reef sharks, Sea horses, Sally Lightfoot crabs
Prince Phillip’s Steps Tower Island
Northern IslandsManta rays, Hammerhead sharks, Tropical fish, Angelfish, Parrotfish, Hogfish, Unicorn fish, Surgeonfish, Butterfly fish, Perch
Devil’s Crown Floreana Island Southern/ CentralCoral reef, Tropical fish, Various sharks, Manta rays, Sea turtles, Blue-footed boobies, Red-footed boobies, Pelicans, Moray eels, Pencil sea urchins, Scorpion fish, Yellow tailed grunts, Amberjacks, Sea lions
Pinnacle Rock Bartholomew Island Central/ WesternPenguins, Tropical fish, White-tipped reef shark, Sea lions
James Bay Santiago Island Central/ Western(Shore access) California sea lions & fur seals, Sea turtles, Penguins, Spotted & Golden rays
North Seymour North Seymour Island Central IslandsWhite-tipped reef sharks, King angelfish, Damselfish, Hogfish, Parrotfish, Black-blotched rays, Box fish, Sea lions
Isla Lobos San Cristobal Eastern IslandsOne of the best spots to snorkel with sea lion colonies
Kicker Rock (Leon Dormido) San Cristobal Eastern IslandsWhite tipped reef sharks, Sea turtles, Rays, Sea lions, Hammerhead sharks
Chinese Hat Islet Santa Cruz Island Central IslandSea turtles, Sea lions & their pups, White tipped reef sharks, Penguins
Gardner Bay Española Island Southern/ EasternSea lions, Parrot fish, White tipped reef sharks, Stingrays, Sea turtles

Tips to prepare

Snorkeling is an activity that’s really fit for all ages and skill levels. If you’re a beginner, it allows you to witness the unique endemic marine life of the Galapagos; if you’re a seasoned veteran, it’s still a fun and relaxing way to get up close with some of the world’s most interesting sea creatures.
If this is your first trip, then here are some things you can keep in mind:

  • Practicing your swimming at a local pool before leaving – if you can’t swim, the buoyancy of your wetsuit will still keep you afloat, but the more experience you have, the more easily you will be able to navigate the water and see what you want to see.
  • Don’t be scared – You will probably see sharks patrolling the depths, but as long as you keep your distance they are not interested in you and are not an aggressive species.
  • Remember – you will always be accompanied by a trained instructor when snorkeling, so they will be prepared for any situation that may arise.
  • Practice using a snorkel and flippers – even experienced swimmers might find the feeling of flippers a bit awkward, but with some practice you’ll find that they really help you move around in the currents. Plus, practicing beforehand will help increase your endurance underwater.
  • Float if you want ?– One of the great things about snorkeling in the Galapagos is that even if you just float in one spot for a few minutes, you will still witness a wealth of sea life swimming around you.
  • Bring a waterproof camera – This is a great way to remember and share the experience with loved ones when you get back home. These days, a quality waterproof digital camera isn’t too expensive and can give you a really fun way to enhance your snorkeling experience knowing that you will always have the memories.

*Information from the following sites was used –

Article writen by Brian Bayer January 2016.

snorkeling in galapagos

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