Snorkeling in the Galapagos: Don’t Forget the Fish

I’ve been fortunate to snorkel in some pretty amazing places: off the coast of Hawaii, in the Red sea, over the reefs of Belize. I’ve seen amazing coral formations, swam through a swarm of non-stinging jellyfish, been brushed by huge rays, and shared space with a green sea turtle. But snorkeling in the Galapagos tops all of that.

We were pleased in that during our 8-day tour, we were able to snorkel almost every single day, generally twice a day. We’d flip off the side of our panga (the inflatable boat that took us to and from landing sites) or wade in from the beach, stick our head in the water, and instantly be taken to another world. The water was, except for on one occasion, crystal clear with excellent visibility and, at this time of year, warm enough to swim in without a wet suit. Nearly constantly, you’d hear a faint yell and life your head to hear another snorkeler announcing an exciting discovery, or you’d follow the outstretched arm of the snorkeler next to you to see something amazing.

Upon reboarding the boat after an hour or so of snorkeling, we’d all share what we saw. Every day we’d hear something like this:

four white-tipped sharks!

White-tipped Sharks Shark Alley

a huge eagle ray!

three Pacific green sea turtles!

two penguins that torpedoed right past me!

a couple more penguins just bobbing on the surface!

a pair of sea lions that kept circling me!

a huge bull sea lion that was making sure we knew he was boss!

Swimming Sea Lion Swimming Sea Lion 2

And then, after we’d marveled at all we’d seen, someone would usually add a final thought: “The fish were pretty nice, too.”

Baby barracudas, orange puffer fish, trumpetfish, a highway of damselfish, blunthead triggerfish, parrot fish, and more—in a normal snorkeling situation, they’d all be worth an individual mention, but in the Galapagos, these brightly colored beauties were just an afterthought. I’m afraid that we’ve been spoiled.

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