By Richard – (North Merrick, NY)
I’ve snorkeled many places in the Caribbean and Pacific. The most unique snorkeling I’ve ever done was in the Galapagos Islands, which is located about 600 miles off the coast of Ecuador in South America.
First, you need to be on a Galapagos cruise boat that offers snorkeling. I was fortunate to be aboard the National Geographic Islander which holds 48 people. It was my second time on this ship (the first time they didn’t offer snorkeling) and my wife’s third time (twice with snorkeling). The trip is pricey but worth it if you want to see something unique.
If the snorkeling conditions are good — which they were for our last trip in February 2018 — you see the following close-up as you snorkel: sea lions, marine iguanas (eating seaweed at the sea bottom), penguins, many, many huge sea turtles, and ocean sunfish (the second largest fish in the world after whale sharks).
We were fortunate to see all of these creatures during our snorkeling. In particular, our expedition leader told us that we were most fortunate to see six ocean sunfish one afternoon, the most she has ever seen at one time.
Also, I should point out that the National Geographic cruise that went out a week before us did not have as much luck snorkeling as we did because the water conditions were not as good. In other words, this is a weather dependent experience, but one that I doubt snorkelers would experience anywhere else in the world.
If you go, bring a full 5mm wetsuit; the cruise only loans out 5mm shorties which are not warm enough.
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Nicole & Galen – Mar 26, 2019 – Thank You!
Hi Richard, thank you for sharing your story with us about the unique snorkeling in the Galapagos Islands. It is high on our list of places to visit.
Anonymous – Apr 7, 2019 – Cold Water!
Galapagos has cold water! I am a relative newbie to snorkeling. On my trip to the Galapagos, I had high expectations for snorkeling BUT failed to think about the fact that all of my previous experiences were in warm waters in Bonaire.
I was not prepared, despite having a 3/4 mm wetsuit for the shock of the water temperature. I am ashamed to say that my first time in I jumped back on the Zodiac right away! Second time, I was better prepared and as soon as I got in the water there was a turtle beneath me that was larger than I am! In moments, sea lions came close to peer into my mask. It was the experience of a lifetime.
Richard – Apr 8, 2019 – Wetsuit for Galapagos
Agreed with anonymous poster above. You need a full 5mm as I indicated in my original post above. Bring your own wetsuit. If your boat offers wetsuits, they are likely shorties that won’t keep you warm in these cold waters.
Dave – Apr 9, 2019 – Galapagos Experience
My wife and I recently got back from a trip to the Galapagos. We used OARS which only had 12 passengers. We were on the eastern island version and snorkeling was part of every day and sometimes twice a day.
We’ve snorkeled much of the Caribbean and Hawaii but loved this trip. Not much on corals and did not see ocean sunfish like Richard mentioned above but we did snorkel with manta rays, turtles, sea lions, white tip, Galapagos, and hammerhead sharks, and a penguin who swam with me for about five minutes. A wonderful experience!
Tony – May 5, 2019 – Booking Galapagos Cruise Boats Directly?
We are planning ahead (for 2021!) for a trip to the Galapagos. Is it possible to book cruise boats independently and where do we start?
Searching on Google I seem to find a lot of travel companies but cannot seem to find individual boats. Do we need to use a travel company for the Galapagos?
Thanks in advance.
Richard – May 6, 2019 – Galapagos Boats
Tony, here is a link to Travel and Leisure Magazine’s article on cruise boats in the Galapagos Islands. If you are interested in snorkeling, make sure to ask them if they offer snorkeling as an activity.
Gwen – Jun 8, 2019 – Ecoventura for Your Galapagos Snorkel Trip
We were very pleased with Ecoventura for our snorkel Galapagos experience. We snorkeled twice a day and full wetsuits were provided. You can book with them directly or book through REI, who uses them as the provider for their Galapagos adventure travel.