The Galápagos may be the best destination worldwide for watching wildlife on land, but the marine marvels underwater are beyond belief. From snorkeling with playful sea lion pups and nonchalant sea turtles to diving with hammerheads and whale sharks, the Caribbean and Red Sea simply pale in comparison.
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 marine 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.
Devil’s Crown and Champion Island, Floreana
The jagged peaks of this submerged volcanic cone 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 marine 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.
Related Travel Guide
Seasoned traveler and journalist Ben Westwood leads adventurers to off-the-beaten-path experiences in Ecuador, from riding a train up the steep switchbacks of the famous Nariz del Diablo (Devil's Nose) to diving off of the Galápagos Islands, where the waters are abundant with ocean life.