Snorkeling & Diving#4 in Best Things To Do in Galapagos Islands
Price & Hours
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To many, the Galápagos' charm lies with its abundance of land-roaming creatures. But for aquatic enthusiasts more interested in the incredible diversity of wildlife found beneath its turquoise waves, the Galápagos' surrounding waters are just as alluring. As soon as you take the plunge, you'll come face-to-face with a myriad of colorful tropical fish, sea horses and sharks, among other creatures.
Dive sites that are popular with experienced divers include Wolf Island's Shark Point (which can only be reached during a multiday cruise from operators like Galapagos Diving Cruises and DivEncounters) and Santa Cruz Island's Gordon Rocks. But according to previous travelers, novice snorkelers and divers should consider visiting Las Grietas (near Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz Island), Los Tuneles (at the center of Isabela Island) or Frigatebird Hill (on the southwestern end of San Cristóbal Island). The waters at these locales are generally calmer, and you're bound to spot animals like sea lions, penguins and sea turtles.
Organized snorkeling and diving tours are offered by companies like Scuba Iguana, Wreck Bay Dive Center and Pahoehoe Galapagos Tours. Fees vary by company, location and tour, but expect to pay at least $55 per person. Multiday excursions that include all gear, some meals and accommodations are available as well. You can also bring your own equipment and snorkel for free at beaches like Tortuga Bay and La Loberia.
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#1 Tortuga Bay (Santa Cruz Island)
Outdoorsy types don't flock to these two white sand beaches simply to bake in the warm equatorial sun. Travelers visit this isolated strip of Santa Cruz Island's southern coastline for some quality face time with the Galápagos' marine turtles. If you visit between January and February, you may even catch sight of the black turtles laying their eggs (hatchlings emerge and make their way to the sea between April and May). Even if you're not a turtle-lover, you can still get up close and personal with the other beach combers like marine iguanas and Sally Lightfoot crabs.
While most recent travelers describe their visits to Tortuga Bay as a highlight of their trips, some do caution that it can feel like quite a trek to get there from Puerto Ayora, especially in the hot sun. Also, remember that the beach closest to the bay's entrance (Playa Brava) has strong currents, so it's not suitable for swimming. If you want to swim, continue walking to the bay's other beach (Playa Mansa).
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