Exploring the Stunning waters of Galapagos by Snorkeling

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Snorkeling in Galapagos Islands

Experience the incredible marine life that surrounds the islands while snorkeling in Galapagos. A world of lifeforms you would miss if you stayed on the ground can be discovered with just a few hours of learning—even for young children. Remember, the waters surrounding the Galapagos are a UNESCO World Heritage Property designated as a Marine Reserve—the largest marine protected area in the Americas.

Snorkeling in Galapagos May Be the Highlight of Your Trip

Live the adventure of a lifetime snorkeling along with the most iconic creatures of the Galapagos Islands!

One of the finest ways to witness marine life in its native habitat is snorkeling. Snorkeling’s primary benefit over scuba diving is that it doesn’t require certification or high-tech equipment. Fins, a floating vest, a mask, and a snorkel are all you need. When visiting the islands in the dry season (June to November), when the water is colder than tropical norms, you should pack a wetsuit. However, wet suits are always available on board expedition ships. Children’s wet suits and snorkeling equipment are also available.
If you visit the Galapagos on an excursion cruise, snorkel gear is provided on board. Naturalist guides will help you see and identify a variety of marine creatures.

Snorkeling in Galapagos with sea turtles
Snorkeling in Galapagos with sea turtles

Sea turtles are marine reptiles that migrate and swim well despite their size. They softly patrol the water. They appear unaffected by snorkelers or divers and swim with ease. Punta Vicente Roca is among the best locations on Isabela Island for swimming with sea turtles. Nearby sheer drop-offs provide a clear picture of them in the deep blue sea, while the smooth, black sand gives the impression that the ocean is dark. Champion Islet on Floreana Island is another beautiful place. Sea turtles can be seen both underwater and resting close to shallows. These serene and self-assured creatures drift with the ocean’s currents, pursuing jellyfish and drifting tunicates in the open sea. Finding sea turtles in the ocean is fun for everyone, and their calm, easygoing attitude is infectious.

Marine Iguanas

The Galapagos Islands are the only place to find these fantastic lizards. They have been highly adapted to the maritime environment throughout the millennia by learning to feed on algae and seaweed. They have a large, flat tail that helps them move through the water quickly, and they are excellent swimmers. They can also be seen sleeping on the rocks along the shore, and as part of their ongoing desalination process, they occasionally sneeze to clear the salt buildup in their noses. Because of this puff of ground salt, the early explorers mistook the iguanas for dragons. Underwater pastures in Punta Espinoza, Fernandina Island, and Rabida Island are beautiful places to see marine iguanas and sea turtles graze.

Meet the Galapagos marine iguana while snorkeling in Galapagos!
Meet the Galapagos marine iguana while snorkeling in Galapagos!

Looks like a Mammal, but Wait…it is a Galapagos Penguin!

It’s an incredible experience to snorkel in the Galapagos with the elegant little penguins. Chasing schools of little fish, they zigzag across the water at great speeds. You can snorkel with penguins at Chinese Hat Islet and Bartolome Island and sea lions, green turtles, and reef sharks. When their mother searches for food, the sea lion pups stay safe and secure in a remote cove. In an attempt to dazzle snorkelers, sea lions frequently blow bubbles at them and do amazing underwater tricks.

Snorkeling in Galapagos: Discovering Tropical Fish and Beyond

Champion Islet is a dilapidated volcanic cone on Floreana Island. It provides an exhilarating ride for snorkelers, as the currents carry you around one side with minimal swimming effort. During your journey around the crown, you will witness a wide diversity of marine species that call these protected waters home. The aquatic life you will witness includes rays, reef sharks, parrotfish, angelfish, wrasses, groupers, snappers, and amberjacks. This place is extraordinary since it has a strange mix of fish species from both the tropics and the subtropics—basically, a natural aquarium. You might be accompanied on your crazy journey by sea lions and turtles. This is regarded by many as one of the best places to do scuba diving and snorkeling. 

Snorkeling in Galapagos is a great way to get a close-up of the Islands' iconic marine life.
Snorkeling in Galapagos is a great way to get a close-up of the Islands’ iconic marine life.

Sea Lions

A distinct marine habitat can be found in tranquil areas like Gardner Bay on Española Island or Rabida Island. Here’s where snorkelers can witness some of the most impressive sea lion displays. Though the sea lions will take center stage, you may expect to observe some interesting marine species here. Snorkelers enjoy being teased and impressed by them, and they reciprocate.

Hammerhead Sharks

While snorkeling in Galapagos, Prince Phillip’s Steps on Genovesa (Tower) Island is the best area to spot hammerhead sharks, though there’s no assurance the sharks will be there each time we enter the water. Sharks are creatures of constant movement; therefore, our chances of seeing them during our lifetime mainly depend on luck. Shark sightings during snorkeling are rare, but if you ask your guide, you can find them by doing more in-depth searching. Darwin Bay is a submerged caldera on this flat, pancake-shaped island—possibly just a massive pit crater. This is the spot to witness big fish and abundant, vibrant tropical species. Its northern location allows for the sighting of several warm-water fish species, such as convict tangs, wrasses, and boxfish.
One of the most incredible spots in the world to dive or snorkel is the Galapagos Islands. The diversity and quantity of marine life are astounding, and many of the creatures invite you to enter their world. Additionally, it is the real hidden secret of the islands since the media typically focuses more on the archipelago’s terrestrial species and less on its marine counterpart. However, putting on a mask ushers in a whole new adventure, and this is precisely how the spirit of exploration thrives on the Galapagos Islands.
>An adventure cruise is among the most significant ways to enjoy fantastic snorkeling in Galapagos. Traveling to various islands at night allows you to spend more daylight hours on land or underwater, which is only one of the numerous benefits. Because the cruise captain and crew adhere to stringent environmental regulations, you can be sure that your trip will be environmentally responsible and that your guide is trained. Now for a big surprise: excursion vessels with glass-bottom boats will concentrate on helping non-snorkelers appreciate and observe the marine ecosystem, so don’t be discouraged if you don’t plan to snorkel.

Updated:June 5, 2024

Published:May 20, 2016

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