Paul Schicke
Written by Paul Schicke Senior Expedition Designer

Updated: August 20, 2021
Published: February 13, 2017

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Galapagos Sea Lion on the surface level of the ocean in the Galapagos

Unlike most wildlife destinations, there’s no wrong time to visit & go snorkeling in the Galapagos Islands!

The islands are a treasure trove for adventurous travelers to get up close to exotic animals and aquatic life. With over 15,000 square miles of protected, marine reserve waters, it’s easily one of the best snorkeling destinations in the world.

If you’re dreaming of snorkeling in the Galapagos with sea turtles, sea lions, reef fish and maybe even a marine iguana, read on to find out when and where are the best places to snorkel in the Galapagos!

The Best Time to Snorkel the Galapagos

There are two distinct seasons in the Galapagos. The dry and cooler season runs from June to November while the wet and warmer season lasts from December through the end of May.

If you’re planning to snorkel in the Galapagos, the wet season is generally preferred. Daily temperatures are usually in the mid 20’s and the water is a mild 25°C making it the perfect time to jump in!

The seas are usually calmer too and underwater visibility is at its best, giving you more of an opportunity to spot sharks and iguanas feeding on the sea floor.

Snorkeling in the Galapagos with green sea turtle

Although it is rainier, most days only bring short, drizzly showers that won’t stop you from enjoying the outdoors.

Peak, wet season runs from mid-December to mid-January so make sure you book at least 6 months in advance if traveling during these times!

Best Snorkel Sites in the Galapagos

The Galapagos has numerous spots that are great for Galapagos snorkeling but if you’re after an experience that will knock your fins off, make sure you include these destinations:

• Punta Espinosa on Fernandina Island •

Fernandina Island is frequently named as one of the best places to snorkel. Punta Espinosa on the western side is our top pick! Here, the cooler water from the Bolivar Channel encourages sea turtles and marine iguanas to graze in troughs near the shore and a sighting is almost guaranteed! If you’re lucky, you might also spot a Galapagos penguin, sea lions, dolphins and flightless cormorants.

Snorkeler swimming with Galapagos Sea Lion at Punta Espinosa

• Tagus Cove on Isabela Island •

Tagus Cove is like a underwater pasture as green algae covers the seafloor, giving sea turtles and marine iguanas plenty to graze on. If you’re good at holding your breath, swim down to see sea horses, sharks and rockfish. Penguin sightings are also reasonably common here too.

Snorkeler with mask observes Penguins on the rocky shore Tagus Cove in the Galapagos

• James Bay on Santiago Island •

Santiago Island boasts one of the only snorkeling sites in the Galapagos you can access from the shore instead of by boat. Here, the black sandy beach slopes down to a rocky sea floor where sea turtles graze and hide among the dark rocks. Between December and May, you might also find sea horses, golden rays, octopus, barracuda and reef sharks.

Snorkeling in Galapagos with Green Sea Turlte with clear underwater visibility at James Bay, Santiago Island

Regardless of when and where you choose to go, snorkeling in the Galapagos is sure to be a highlight of your once-in-a-lifetime adventure! We even put together the top 10 snorkeling spots in the Galapagos to add to your trip!

For everything else you need to plan, book and prepare for your trip, head over to our Galapagos Islands Travel Guide for fun facts, things to do, packing list recommendations and more.

Paul Schicke
By Paul Schicke
Senior Expedition Designer

Hello! My name is Paul. I am a photographer, traveler, teacher and writer. I have extensive experience in travel to Galapagos, Peru, Patagonia and the western seaboard of South America specializing in ways travelers can experience these once-in-a-life destinations like locals on the road. Lover of wine, chocolate, travel, coffee, and helping others plan vacations of a lifetime!

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