Snorkeling guide to the Galapagos: Unveiling the volcanic underwater secrets


The Galapagos Islands, located in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Ecuador, are renowned for their unique and diverse wildlife. From the famous giant tortoises to the marine iguanas, these islands offer a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to witness nature in its purest form. But what lies beneath the crystal-clear waters surrounding the Galapagos? In this snorkeling guide, we will unveil the volcanic underwater secrets of the Galapagos, providing you with all the information you need to explore this extraordinary underwater world.

The Marine Life of the Galapagos

The Galapagos Islands are home to a remarkable array of marine species, thanks to the convergence of warm and cold ocean currents. This unique mix of currents creates an abundance of nutrients, attracting a wide variety of marine life. Snorkeling in the Galapagos allows you to witness this incredible biodiversity firsthand.

One of the most iconic marine species found in the Galapagos is the Galapagos penguin. This is the only penguin species that can be found north of the equator, and snorkeling alongside these playful creatures is an unforgettable experience. Other marine animals you may encounter while snorkeling include sea lions, sea turtles, rays, and a wide variety of colorful fish.

The Volcanic Underwater Landscape

The Galapagos Islands were formed by volcanic activity, and this volcanic origin extends beneath the water’s surface. The underwater landscape of the Galapagos is characterized by volcanic formations such as lava tunnels, arches, and submerged craters. These geological features provide a unique backdrop for snorkeling, adding an extra dimension to your underwater exploration.

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One of the most famous volcanic formations in the Galapagos is Kicker Rock, also known as Leon Dormido. This towering rock formation rises vertically from the ocean, creating a haven for marine life. Snorkeling around Kicker Rock allows you to swim through a natural channel, surrounded by schools of fish and the occasional shark.

The Best Snorkeling Sites in the Galapagos

The Galapagos Islands offer a multitude of snorkeling sites, each with its own unique characteristics and marine life. Here are some of the best snorkeling spots in the Galapagos:

1. Devil’s Crown: Located off the coast of Floreana Island, Devil’s Crown is a submerged volcanic crater. This site is known for its vibrant coral reefs and abundance of marine life, including sea turtles, rays, and sharks.

2. Gardner Bay: Situated on Española Island, Gardner Bay is home to a large colony of sea lions. Snorkeling here allows you to swim alongside these playful creatures and witness their underwater acrobatics.

3. Bartolome Island: Bartolome Island offers a unique snorkeling experience, with its iconic Pinnacle Rock and volcanic formations. This site is also known for its Galapagos penguins and white-tipped reef sharks.

4. Sullivan Bay: Located on Santiago Island, Sullivan Bay offers a chance to snorkel in a lava field. The underwater landscape here is truly surreal, with its black volcanic rocks contrasting against the vibrant marine life.

Tips for Snorkeling in the Galapagos

Snorkeling in the Galapagos requires some preparation and consideration. Here are some tips to ensure you have a safe and enjoyable snorkeling experience:

1. Choose the right gear: Make sure you have a well-fitting snorkel mask, snorkel tube, and fins. It’s also a good idea to wear a wetsuit, as the water can be chilly.

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2. Respect the wildlife: The Galapagos Islands are a protected area, and it’s important to respect the wildlife and their natural habitat. Keep a safe distance from marine animals and avoid touching or chasing them.

3. Follow the guidance of your guide: Snorkeling in the Galapagos is often done as part of a guided tour. Listen to your guide’s instructions and follow their lead to ensure a safe and responsible snorkeling experience.

4. Be mindful of the currents: The Galapagos Islands are known for their strong currents. Before entering the water, assess the conditions and make sure you are comfortable with the current strength.


Snorkeling in the Galapagos is a truly unique and unforgettable experience. From the diverse marine life to the volcanic underwater landscape, the Galapagos offers a world of wonders beneath its crystal-clear waters. By following the tips provided in this snorkeling guide, you can make the most of your underwater exploration and uncover the volcanic secrets of this extraordinary archipelago. So grab your snorkel gear and get ready to dive into the mesmerizing world of the Galapagos!