When you think about Galapagos the first things that pop into your head are probably Charles Darwin and the giant Tortoises. The BIG 15 that you search for while in Galapagos are basically land animals. Some might swim a little but none of them live underwater. As excited as I was see all of those endemic species I was also very excited to get in the water and explore who lives there too. The leaders of Central and South America want to protect the underwater creatures just as much as the land living ones. On the day we were leaving Galapagos they signed a decree officially creating the new Galapagos Marine Reserve. https://www.travelandleisure.com/trip-ideas/nature-travel/galapagos-marine-reserve-ocean-highway
I would not call myself an expert or even an avid snorkeler. I really had only done it a couple times in the Caribbean and honestly didn't enjoy it that much. Then when we cruised Sea of Cortes 2 years ago I was very excited to snorkel with the sea lions which meant I did need to take a refresher course on how to snorkel before we got to the sea lions.
I realized that part of the reason I didn't enjoy snorkeling was that I just didn't like having the snorkel in my mouth. I also hadn't snorkeled in a a wetsuit before so I learned that it is so much easier in a wetsuit since that does all the work of keeping you afloat. I will be honest when our guide said you will always float in a wetsuit I didn't believe her so at first I kept feeling like I had to tread water. Once I got comfortable enough to convince my brain I wasn't going to sink I finally started to enjoy snorkeling.
When I booked the expedition cruise to Galapagos I knew snorkeling would be a must do - mainly because there would be sea lions and I had so much fun swimming with those little guys in Sea of Cortes. I already knew I wanted a wetsuit since it made it easier but then I read how cold the water would be I knew it was a must have. You would think being on the equator would mean warm water but it doesn't. The average water temperature all year is 75 degrees. So I also added scuba gloves and socks to the list to keep me warmer.
With all the covid stuff I thought the ship might not be lending snorkels and masks so I figured best to buy our own. I did some research and so glad I did since I found the best mask and snorkel. I had seen some people wearing these recently on other cruises and I kind of thought they looked silly. After reading the reviews I realized those people were the smart ones. We ordered a couple from amazon and so glad we did. This new mask goes over your whole face and no need to hold anything in your mouth. The snorkel also has a great way of keeping water out of your mouth too. It made snorkeling a breeze. I was able to stay in the water for hours and never felt uncomfortable.
If you really want to snorkel in Galapaogs an expedition cruise, like the Hurtigruten one I did, really is the best way. I think we snorkeled almost every day in new locations and one day even twice in the day. The first time we walked in from the beach but after that it was what they called deep water snorkel where you get in the water from the zodiac. I had never done that before but it was easy and actually better than walking in from the beach because you get the cold part over fast.
There are a lot of amazing animals on land in Galapagos but also a ton underwater too. It was just so serene to be floating on the water and all of a sudden a school of fish would dart your way and next thing you know you were right in the middle of them. Sometimes I would swim along with them and it was just such a cool feeling. The sea lions are also very curious and will come check you out. Some also like to nibble on your flippers. One time I caught a sea turtle out of the corner of my eye so I turned towards him but he didn't want to be friendly I guess because he swam away but it was fun to swim after him for a bit. We also saw lots of different types of fish along with some starfish, rays, and skates. On the last day the guides said they saved the best for last and then they told me it was the best because there are sharks. I wasn't so sure but I figured if the guides were excited to find them it must be safe. When I saw the first one I had a little panic moment but then realized he didn't care about me. I kept watching and found there was actually a bunch of them and some looked like they were sleeping. Every now and then you might see one of the birds dive in and pop back to the top of the water which was also very interesting.
Getting to snorkel somewhere like Galapagos where there just is never going to be a lot of people in the water makes it so much better than snorkeling anywhere else (ok so I haven't been to the Great Barrier Reef yet but that is on my list).
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