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The Ultimate Galapagos Snorkeling Guide: Top animals you’ll find and more!

January 12, 2021 by Isabel Espinoza0

Pristine waters, lush flora and fauna, unique wild and marine life, all make the Galapagos Islands one of the best snorkeling spots in the world.

Whether exploring the Galapagos Islands on your own or enjoying a stay with us, you’ll want this Galapagos snorkeling guide as your companion to ensure you take in all the islands have to offer.

Here we’ll share all you need to know about snorkeling in Galapagos and what awaits you in these crystalline waters.

Snorkeling in Galapagos: When to Visit

You can’t go wrong no matter what time of year you visit the Galapagos Islands!

The Hot Season is from December through May. Daily showers come and go with the sun breaking through providing some of the warmest days of the year. Temperatures range between 65 to 85 degrees.

Waters tend to be warmer, calmer, and clearer during the rainy season, making perfect conditions for snorkeling in the Galapagos.

The Dry Season runs from June through November. While there is little rain, skies are slightly overcast with cool temperatures ranging between 60 to 80 degrees.

Waters are cooler and a bit rougher due to the wind, but taking a dive is definitely worth it! Due to the rich underwater currents that visit the archipelago during these months, marine wildlife is much more active. A wetsuit is always an option so you can still comfortably enjoy Galapagos snorkeling!

Family snorkeling in the Galapagos Islands

Day Tours to the Best Snorkeling Spots

One of the best ways to experience snorkeling in the Galapagos, if you don’t want to hop aboard an expedition vessel, is by booking a day tour! At Finch Bay, we’re the proud owners and operators of the Sea Lion Yacht. Here, we offer exclusive Day Tours to some of the most precious central islands of the Galapagos National Park.

Whether you are visiting the islands as part of a cruise or staying on the island, a Day Tour option provides a convenient, private, and curated snorkeling experience to the best snorkeling spots in the Archipelago.

These day tours are limited to only twenty guests and provide the expertise of certified naturalists and guides for your snorkeling and land excursions. With us, all snorkeling equipment, towels, and lunch are provided, allowing you to immerse yourself in the beauty and wonder of the islands.

The following is a list of islands within the Galapagos National Park that you can access via Day Tours and the animals you’ll most likely encounter while snorkeling.

 

Bartolome Island

Read more about our Day Tour to Bartolome Island

This uninhabited island boasts one of the most famous landmarks of the Galapagos, Pinnacle Rock. This breathtaking obelisk jutting out of the sea is not only a must-see wonder but also a spectacular snorkeling spot.

See below for a few of the amazing species you will likely encounter on your snorkeling excursion.

Galapagos Penguin

You’ll be entertained by these small penguins as they slip, slide and waddle along the coasts of the island.

The Galapagos penguin is the only penguin to live north of the equator and is uniquely adapted for this tropical existence. Snorkeling will let you observe them zipping through the water as they hunt and play.

The Galapagos penguin can be seen year-round, but if you wish to observe nesting season, this occurs between May through January.

Galapagos penguin swimming in Bartolome Island, Galapagos
Take a plunge and join these little fellows as they swim across the clear Galapagos’ water!

 

Galapagos Sea Lion

The Galapagos sea lion is the most common mammal you will see on your visit to the islands. Nevertheless, while snorkeling, you’ll be able to get a glimpse at the playful nature of these creatures as they play in the water, and dive for sardines.

You can see Galapagos sea lions all year, but a particular treat is seeing baby sea lion pups from July to November.

Sea Lion swimming at North Seymour Island
Playful and cute: Sea Lions are the best companions when it comes to snorkeling.

White Tipped Reef Shark

Luckily for snorkelers, the white-tipped reef shark prefers shallow waters and is known to be docile with humans.

You’ll find these beautiful creatures peacefully swimming about and lurking in crevices all year round.

South Plaza Island

Read more about our Day Tour to South Plaza Island

South Plaza Island is one of the smallest islands but is known for having the most vibrantly colored seasonal flora and fauna. Here you’ll discover cactus forests, iguanas, sea lion colonies, and numerous bird species.

Marine Iguanas

The Galapagos Islands is the only place in the entire world that you will see the remarkable marine iguana. This species is the only lizard with aquatic adaptations for swimming and foraging in the sea.

While snorkeling, you’re likely to see these marvelous creatures sunbathing on rocks and enjoying a meal of algae. Marine iguanas are very active year-round and mate between January and March.

Galapagos Marine Iguanas basking in the sun
One way to spot Marine Iguanas in Galapagos is to check their colors. Iguanas with yellow or eggshell-colored skin enjoy the comforts of life on land. Meanwhile, darker iguanas, those who resemble Godzilla, are exactly what you were looking for!

King Angelfish

The king angelfish is a striking sight for snorkelers to see. Its oblong, flat body is a darker blue with markings of electric blue, orange, bright yellow, and white.

The angelfish spends its time year-round grazing throughout the reefs, feeding on seaweed, algae, sea urchins, and sponges. These fish can be seen swimming alone, in pairs, and even in schools of fish.

North Seymour Island and Bachas Beach

Read more about our Day Tour to North Seymour Island and Las Bachas Beach

North Seymour Island and Las Bachas Beach are breathtaking spots to add to your Galapagos snorkeling itinerary. North Seymour Island is bursting with unique marine and land creatures including the iconic blue-footed booby.

The white sands of Bachas Beach are only accessible by dinghy but it is well worth the journey. Nearby lagoons are home to vibrant pink flamingos while the calm surrounding waters are a vital egg-laying site for the Galapagos green sea turtle.

Blue-Footed Booby

The blue-footed booby is a white and brown plumed bird with distinctive bright blue feet. The mating dance of this species is a memorable event as the male takes a high stepping dance around the female, hoping she’ll be wooed by his brilliant blue feet.

The best time to glimpse this dance is from June through August as they take to land for mating and breeding. It’s not rare that, while snorkeling in the Galapagos Islands, you’ll see their adorable feet moving like fins while they sit above the water.

Galapagos Green Sea Turtle

These impressive creatures can be widely seen throughout the Galapagos Islands where they come to lay their eggs.  Snorkeling next to these majestic creatures is a once in a lifetime experience as they serenely swim through the waters and feed on seagrass.

The Galapagos green sea turtle can be seen year-round. Pregnant females can be seen on shorelines at night between December through March preparing to lay their eggs.

Santa Fe Island

Read more about our Day Tour to Santa Fe Island

Believed to have been formed over 4 million years ago, Sante Fe Island is thought to be the oldest island in the archipelago.

Snorkeling in the tranquil, turquoise waters of the island shore is an experience not to be missed. Expect to encounter sea lions, rays, sea turtles, and exotic fish only found in the waters surrounding the Galapagos Islands.

Galapagos Rays

Spotting Galapagos rays is a true highlight you’ll want your underwater camera for. Over fifteen unique species of rays stealthily swim through these waters.

From the leaping manta ray to the spotted eagle ray, all are spectacular to watch glide across the ocean floor.

While rays are seen year-round, the best time to see them is during the rainy season from December through May as the waters are warmer and clearer.

Book Your Galapagos Snorkeling Tour Today!

If you’re looking for the ultimate snorkeling in Galapagos Island experience, plan a stay at the Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel. Let our experts curate your adventure to some of the best snorkeling spots in the Galapagos Islands aboard our private yacht.

The secluded, beachfront Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel offers a full-service restaurant and spa with a dedication to sustainable practices and conservation!

From unforgettable land and sea adventures to relaxation and rejuvenation, The Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel has it all.

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