What to do in the Galapagos?
Snorkelers with sea lions in the Galapagos
Snorkel in the Galapagos
While wildlife can be easily spotted above water in the Galapagos, seeing it below the surface offers a completely new perspective. Snorkeling is one of the main highlights of visiting the islands and all the cruise itineraries will include it, as will a lot of the day trips.
Even if you are anxious about snorkeling, I would encourage you to try it because it’s incredible to see some of the creatures that lumber on land glide fluidly through the water. You can also encounter reef sharks, different types of ray, and fish of all colours, shapes and sizes.
There are regulations saying that you should stay two metres away from the wildlife at all times, but their lack of inhibition makes this virtually impossible. Even swimming off the beach you may be surrounded by sea turtles, fish, rays, and the ever-present sea lions. In the western islands you might be lucky enough to swim with Galapagos penguins, but they are so fast in the water that you often just catch a flash as they zoom past.
My best snorkel trip was at Punto Vicente Roca. We saw around 40 turtles, half of them sleeping and the rest swimming around us, as well as eagle rays and a pod of eight or so manta rays, which is extremely rare. We then returned to the boat to follow a pod of killer whales chasing some sea lions in the area. Travelling on one of the pangas (dinghies) we were able to watch them hunting, which was incredible.
A green sea turtle
Dive in the Galapagos
Diving is also popular in the Galapagos, but is not suited to beginners as the currents are strong and cold. You’ll want to have logged over 30 dives and have cold water experience, before trying it here. That said, if you are a proficient diver it’s a rewarding experience.
If you want to dive in the Galapagos there are two ways to do it. You can stay in one of the hotels on land and take day trips out to dive locations around the islands, or you can stay aboard a boat on an intensive dive cruise (also known as a liveaboard diving experience). This allows you to visit dive sites around the far northern islands and go to very remote areas that other cruises can’t visit.