The Galapagos Islands are located off Ecuador’s western coast and are a marine reserve and national park, serving as a great destination for any interested snorkeler that wants to interact with various marine mammals and tropical fish. There are over 28 different species of sharks that call the Galapagos Islands home, such as Blacktip sharks, Whale sharks and Scalloped Hammerhead sharks, and a variety of rays as well.
Top Galapagos Snorkeling Destinations
The Galapagos is made up of a chain of islands, with fantastic snorkeling destinations spread throughout. While there are countless spots to snorkel and view the amazing underwater world that the Galapagos has to offer, here are the best ones!
James Bay (Santiago Island)
If you’re looking for a Galapagos snorkeling site that you can access right from shore, then
James Bay on Santiago Island is a good spot to start. It is one of the few snorkeling spots that are accessible right from shore, though you will need to be careful of the California sea lions and fur sea lions that will be sunbathing on the beach. If you get lucky, you might even be able to spot the sea lions while you are snorkeling. Just a short swim off the beach, the black sand drops off to a rocky bottom where you can find a plethora of green sea turtles grazing and hiding amongst the rocks. If the time of the year is right, you might even get to see some Galapagos penguins or large schools of golden or spotted rays gliding by.
Devil’s Crown (Floreana Island)
Located on the island of Floreana, the waters of Devil’s Crown hold a worn down, submerged volcanic cone. This giant crater’s walls form a frequent visiting site for birds, such as and blue-footed boobies and pelicans. A slight current here will draw you inside and take you around the crown. The area is home to many marine species, which makes it one of the best Galapagos snorkeling sites. While drifting effortlessly through the waters here, you can see eels, a diverse array of vibrant corals, sea urchins, groupers, wrasses, snappers, angelfish, grunts, scorpion fish and many other unique marine creatures. Keep your eyes open for the frequenting turtle and sea lions as well!
Tagus Cove (Isabela Island)
This is an interesting Galapagos snorkeling site, known for a layer of green algae that covers the cove’s floor. Sea turtles and marine iguanas love grazing along this underwater pasture. The cove opens to the rich waters of the Bolivar Channel and you can often see penguins flittering about. If you are able to hold your breath long enough, and can make it to a depth of about 3 meters, you will be rewarded with sea horses and views of rare Port Jackson sharks.
Punta Espinosa (Fernandina Island)
Punta Espinosa is located along the western side of Fernandina Island and right on the Bolivar Channel. The channel here is the best place to see whales and the elusive Galapagos dolphins. If you’re lucky, you can even swim amongst the dolphins and spot orcas and humpback whales in the distant waters. While swimming through the channels, you are almost guaranteed to see sea turtles and marine iguanas nestling in the warmer waters of the channel.
Best Time for Galapagos Snorkeling
You can snorkel in the Galapagos Islands year round, but the water temperatures can vary significantly depending on the season and the site you choose. Air temperatures hover between +18C to +30C (68-86F), with water temperatures ranging from +17C to +28C (62-82F). February through April offers warmer water and air temperatures, with June through September being the prime snorkeling months.
How to Get to the Galapagos
You will need to get to Ecuador before completing your trip to the Galapagos Islands. From Ecuador, you can catch a flight from Guayaquil or Quito to San Cristobal or Baltra Island. These flights take approximately three hours and can cost up to $500USD round-trip, depending on the time of year that you are traveling.
No matter when you choose to visit the Galapagos Islands for snorkeling, you will leave with lasting memories. The waters are teeming with vibrant wildlife that is protected and not afraid of humans. Immerse yourself in this snorkeler’s paradise and plan your trip to the Galapagos for the experience of a lifetime!