The Six Best Sites to Snorkel or Dive in the Galápagos

The Galápagos may be the best destination worldwide for watching wildlife on land, but the marine marvels underwater are beyond belief. After snorkeling with playful sea lion pups and nonchalant sea turtles or diving with hammerheads and whale sharks, the Caribbean and Red Sea simply pale in comparison.

The famous Kicker Rock, also known as León Dormido. Photo © Ksneia Ragozina/123rf.
The famous Kicker Rock, also known as León Dormido. Photo © Ksneia Ragozina/123rf.

Gordon Rocks, Santa Cruz

One hour from Puerto Ayora, this site is for intermediate to advanced divers due to strong currents. Visibility is usually excellent, and you can watch schools of hammerheads, rays, moray eels, and sea turtles.

Kicker Rock (León Dormido), San Cristóbal

The narrow channel between the sheer walls of this volcanic tuff cone is a prime snorkeling spot. White-tipped reef sharks, sea turtles, and rays are commonly seen in the channel, while divers go deeper to see hammerheads. A visit is combined with snorkeling among a sea lion colony at nearby Isla Lobos.

Punta Vicente Roca, Isabela

On the western side of Isabela, this protected bay is an important resting spot for sea turtles, and you can also spot Galápagos penguins, flightless cormorants, and marine iguanas.

Devil’s Crown and Champion Island, Floreana

Low, pointy rock formations stick out of turquoise sea under blue cloudy sky.
Devil’s Crown. Photo © Maurizio De Mattei/Dreamstime.

The jagged peaks of this submerged volcanic cone known as Devil’s Crown poke out of the water—hence its ominous name. Snorkel outside the ring or in the shallow inner chamber with tropical fish and occasional sharks. A visit is usually combined with snorkeling among a sea lion colony at Champion Island.

Gardner Bay, Española

On the northeast side of Española, this crescent beach offers snorkeling with a sea lion colony, stingrays, white-tipped sharks, and parrot fish. It’s also an important nesting site for sea turtles.

Wolf and Darwin Islands

The ultimate diving experience, open only to live-aboard dive cruises, is found around these islands in the far north. Hundreds of hammerheads can be seen off Wolf, gigantic whale sharks cruise by June–November, and bottlenose dolphins are common at Darwin’s Arch.

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Lisa Cho

About the Author

Lisa Cho is a writer based in San Francisco, California. She considers herself fortunate to have had the opportunity to wander the globe. She’s visited nineteen countries, but Ecuador has particular significance. She first arrived in Ecuador in 2012 with just a suitcase, planning to see the sights; she ended up living there for three years.
She has visited the Galápagos several times with an interesting mix of experiences. She has stayed in backpacker hostels, upscale eco-lodges, and sailed on cruises. She’s taken the most popular tours and ventured off the beaten path. She has gone hiking, biking, kayaking, SUP, snorkeling, SCUBA, taken surfing lessons, and camping on the islands. After several trips spanning a decade, she still considers herself a tourist on the islands: She loves to watch blue-footed boobies, playful sea lion pups, and giant tortoises, and snaps photographs by the thousands.

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