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Snorkeling vs Diving in The Islands

Snorkeling vs Diving in the Galapagos Islands

In April 2019, Indy went to the Galapagos Islands and visited Santa Cruz and Isabela with Rebecca Adventure Travel. “There is so much wildlife to see in and around the Galapagos Islands. I wanted to go snorkeling and diving to see what there is to see underwater!”. Here you can read 4 differences between snorkeling vs diving in Galapagos, and Indy’s personal opinion.

Underwater Wildlife

It is not necessary to dive to see wildlife in the Galapagos Islands! When snorkeling, and even just by walking around, you can find a lot of wildlife in Galapagos. However, you should know where to go. Seeing wildlife is never 100% sure. There are more factors involved when it comes to seeing wild animal species. For example, weather conditions and location are important factors. Of course, when diving, a wider variety of wildlife will be seen compared to snorkeling.

Turtle Underwater - Snorkeling vs Diving Galapagos

I had the opportunity of doing both activities in the Galapagos Islands. By diving, I saw beautiful animals such as many white-tip and black-tip sharks, 2 hammerhead sharks from a distance, a manta ray from close by, sea lions swimming around and playing, an octopus, a sea turtle and loads of amazing and beautiful colored fish. By snorkeling, I saw lots of sea turtles, really big ones, but also small ones from a very close distance, a few seals, a swimming iguana, a black eagle ray and 2 small stingrays, one white tip shark, a seahorse, penguins and also lots of beautiful fish.

Galapagos Shark Underwater

Age Restrictions

Snorkeling is for everyone! There are no restrictions on what age you need to be when snorkeling. From my own experience, I started snorkeling when I was 5 or 6 years old. These are some of the best memories I have of my holidays when I was younger. Despite that no age restrictions are required for snorkeling, it does require the ability to swim.

For diving it is completely different. In the Galapagos, you can do a discovery dive, but to do a full diving day with several dives, a certification is required. Also, when getting your PADI (diving license), the minimum age is 10. If you are younger than 15, a PADI Junior Open Water certification can be earned, which can be upgraded to PADI Open Water upon reaching 15. For kids under the age of 13, a parent or a guardian is required to give permission to register for a PADI certification.

Ray Underwater - Snorkeling vs Diving Galapagos


In general, diving is more expensive than snorkeling. This is mostly because of the equipment that is used during the activity. Additionally, when diving, most of the time the location is only reachable by boat. Unless you have your own dive equipment, an instructor will come with you during the dive.

For snorkeling, if you have your own snorkel gear you can go whenever and wherever you want. I went snorkeling next to the dock of Isabela Island, and here I saw penguins and seals playing around the bubbles that the snorkel makes, and this was completely free! You can make snorkeling as expensive as you want. If you want to go on a trip, there are different prices. For example, the Bay Tour in Santa Cruz is cheaper than going snorkeling to Los Tuneles in Isabela or going on a tour to Santa Fe Island for example. The higher price does not always mean that there is more wildlife to see. Once again, you just need a little bit of luck!

Want to know more about snorkeling tours in the Galapagos? Read Mirjam’s snorkel experience about Los Tuneles here!

Turtle Underwater - Snorkeling vs Diving Galapagos


For diving, the underwater time depends on how much air the tank has, and how fast you breathe. Most of the dives are around 40 minutes depending on the previously given factors. Besides the dive itself, it will take some time to put on all the gear, do a buddy check, and go to a location to dive. In that respect, snorkeling does not have those constraints, so you have virtually unlimited time to do it. Also, snorkeling can be done on almost every beach that you visit, but that does not mean that there will be something to see on every beach you go.

Galapagos Fish Underwater

Indy’s Opinion

When it comes to Snorkeling vs Diving in the Galapagos Islands, I love both snorkeling and diving, and they have both their own specialties. I have done snorkeling for a long time, but still, every time I go snorkeling, I get excited. On the other hand, to me, diving is pure freedom. Diving gives you the opportunity to go to greater depths with a 360-degree view. For snorkeling, you have to stay in shallow waters, but that does not mean that there is less to see while doing it.

Find below a video of Indy diving in the Galapagos:

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