An Adventure at Sea: Snorkeling in the Galapagos4 min read
Floating on the surface of the Pacific Ocean, I watch a sea turtle flap its fins, speeding through the sea despite its dinosaur-like appearance. I roll on my back to see blue-footed boobies diving in and out of the water looking for sardines to improve their mating prowess (the more small fishes they eat, the bluer, and more attractive, their feet become).
The guide calls softly to our tour group, beckoning us to follow him through the waves so we can see a seahorse coiled around a stick on the ocean floor.
I’m on a snorkeling trip in the Galapagos Islands. In Los Tuneles off of Isla Isabella, to be exact. Rather than taking a cruise through the islands, I’ve decided to explore on my own, visiting three of the four inhabited islands. This has made the experience more affordable and lets me plan a choose-your-own-adventure snorkeling tour.
A Healthy Adventure
If you’re looking for a healthy holiday, you can’t go wrong with a visit to the Galapagos Islands. Famous for influencing Darwin’s theory of evolution, it’s not hard to see why the scientist was inspired here. Wherever you go, ancient-looking creatures lumber, hop, or swim around the isles, unafraid of humans and practiced pros at posing for photos.
The Galapagos is a wonderful place to stay active. Whether it’s hiking to a giant tortoise farm on Isla Santa Cruz, snorkeling off of remote beaches or joining organized snorkeling tours, you’ll keep your body moving among stunning natural landscapes and incredible creatures.
“It’s time to see the sharks.” The guide tells the group. My stomach drops.
Swimming with Sea Creatures
Los Tuneles is a series of lava tunnels that have formed off the coast of Isla Isabella. The shallow warm waters and caverns have become home to many sea creatures. Including sharks. I flap my flippers, gliding behind my guide, and watch in awe as a baby sea lion swims next to our group, looking at us before rolling onto its back and laughing.
“They have a bad reputation, but they don’t attack.” The guide says about the sharks. The bright sun beats down from above and I’m glad I’m staying cool under the water. We form a line in front of our guide, and one by one he dives a few feet under the water with us, giving us a glimpse into the shark cave.
I take a deep inhale through my snorkeling mask and dive below, water enveloping me. The sharks aren’t doing their reputation any favors. The cave they call home is dark and emits an eerie green glow. Still, they are fascinating to watch and our presence seems to go unnoticed. When I re-emerge my group swims lazily back to our boat.
After a full day of snorkeling, our bellies are rumbling. Luckily, our captain has prepared ceviche and plantains for us to munch on as we make our way back to shore. The perfect healthy meal to end the day.
Planning Your Snorkeling Trip
Planning a snorkeling trip to the Galapagos may sound daunting and expensive, but knowing what to look for can help you save money and find the perfect tour for your needs.
If you’re a wildlife enthusiast and have some budget to spare, booking one of the many cruises will ensure you get to see remote locations and greater diversity of wildlife. If you’re happy getting a taste of the islands and prefer to have a more relaxed schedule, you can create a self-guided itinerary. The four inhabited islands (Santa Cruz, San Cristobal, Isabella and Floreana) all have a range of budget, mid-range and luxury accommodations and are all connected by ferries.
If you’re traveling around Christmas or New Year’s, it’s best to book your snorkeling tours before you go, but any other time of year you can show up to your destination and pick the tour that calls to you upon arrival.
I’d also recommend bringing your own snorkel mask with you. There are plenty of opportunities to snorkel around beaches and hidden docks on your own.
The fresh cuisine on the islands will perfectly complement your active days, and if you’re traveling with a landlubber you can also stay healthy by hiking to remote spots on the land to see rare birds and giant tortoises.
On foot or by fin, you’ll never be far from a beautiful bird, curious iguana or playful sea lion when you visit the Galapagos Islands.