Snorkeling at Las Tintoreras on Isabela

April 2019

 

I have to say that every day on the Galapagos Islands was incredible, still Las Tintoreras are by far my favorite trip. If you have the opportunity you should definitely explore this unique place.

 

This group of small volcanic islands are located just offshore from Puerto Villamil on Isabela. You can actually see them from the main pier.

 

Once you are there, you can explore rocky lava formation, lots of hidden channels and even more biodiversity. Las Tintoreras are rated on of the best places to snorkel on the Galapagos Islands as well.

So, why is it so incredible? You can snorkel with cute Galapagos penguins, playful sea lions and gigantic sea turtles.  You can see chilled white tipped sharks, rays, blue footed boobies, land and marine iguanas.

 

How to get there?

Even though it is really close to Puerto Villamil you can't go there on your own because Las Tintoreras are located in a national park. Therefore, you need to book a tour and go there with a guide.

 

We booked our tour with Pahoehoe and were really happy with the choice. It's around 50 USD. This includes the snorkeling gear and the wetsuits as well. It's not super cold but the water is a bit chilly, especially considering that you snorkel for a bit and besides that, it's good to prevent a sunburn as well.

 

We actually recommend you book the tour as soon as you arrive on Isabela because tour quickly book up.

 

Our day started around 11 am. In our bags we had our camera, an underwater camera and a towel. This is a half day tour which in total takes around 2,5 hours. So they don't provide any meals. If you want anything, just pack some snacks.

 

We went to the office, picked up our gear and they took us to the main pier where a panga, a small speedboat, just waited for us.

The boat ride takes around 15 minutes and along the way we already saw a sea turtle and some sea lions which were swimming right next to the panga.

Hiking a small trail on Las Tintoreras

After a little while we arrived at our first stop, a small trail on one of the Las Tintoreras islands. We got off the panga and started exploring the Las Tintoreras on a short hike of about 1 km. This is a dry landing.

 

Our first impression were the cut sea lions which weren't bothered at all by the tourist and were chilling on their bench. We started walking on a small path surrounded by this surreal landscape of rocky lava formation which is the favorite place of lots of marine iguanas as well.

 

After a little while we reached a small channel which is just 2 to 3 meters wide and filled with crystal clear water. Sometimes you can see resting white tipped sharks here.

 

We headed back to the panga and started driving around with the boat.

 

Exploring the coastline by boat

During the boat ride we explored the coastline of Las Tintoreras and passed nearby rocks which were occupied by blue footed boobies, pelicans and Galapagos penguins. By the way, these penguins are the second smallest species of penguins and the only one living in the northern hemisphere.

 

All of them stood just a few meters away from us and were totally indifferent to all of the tourists being super excited. It was such a spectacular view. Our boat turned around in front of all the wildlife and made sure everyone got their perfect photo, too. So, don't worry if you don't have the perfect view in the beginning.

 

Snorkeling in crystal clear water

 

After the boat ride which took around 45 minutes, we stopped in one place, put on our snorkeling gear and jumped into the water. And now comes the best part - snorkeling in these calm, crystal clear and incredibly turquoise waters with cute Galapagos penguins, playful sea lions, gigantic sea turtles and white tipped sharks. Las Tintoreras are an underwater wonderland.

 

We snorkeled around for a bit and saw so many sea lions and sea turtles swimming right next to us. The sea lions had the best time playing with the tourists and the sea turtles were completely unimpressed by us. A little later, we snorkeled through a channel and explored this underwater playground when all of a sudden a little penguin swam right beneath us. This was the most memorable moment of our trip. We had seen penguins before but swimming right next to them was very different and really exciting.

 

And then, before we knew it, it was time to head back to Puerto Villamil.

 

LOGISTICS

Departure

Puerto Villamil, Isabela

Duration & Distance

2,5 hours

1,5 hours snorkeling

1 km hiking

Cost

50 USD

Equipment

Swim suit

Sun screen

Towel

Camera (optional)

Underwater camera (optional)

Water and snacks

TIPS

Get a wetsuit (if it is not included you can rent it) because the water is a bit chilly. So it will keep you warm and prevent a sunburn.

Bring enough (biodegradable) sun screen because normal sun screen will damage the reefs and hurt the wildlife.

Bring your underwater camera and your good camera. You can keep it dry and safe on the boat while you are snorkeling.