Snorkeling is one of the easiest and most fun activities you can do with your kids in Galapagos. Even if your kids are not great swimmers, this water activity should not be missed! I took my daughters snorkeling in Galapagos for the first time at ages 6 and 9, and for both, the snorkeling was a big highlight! Exploring the underwater wildlife of the Galapagos Marine Reserve was a true discovery for them. Clownfish, sea stars, rays, marine turtles, sharks…and of course, lots of Dory´s & Nemo´s!
Find below some tips and tricks for a successful snorkeling trip in Galapagos with your little ones!
There are many different snorkel sites in Galapagos – some in shallow clear and calm waters, and others in deep cold waters with strong currents.
Snorkeling in very deep waters can be a bit scary at first, especially when you can´t see the bottom of the sea! For the first time, choose a more relaxed snorkel site, such as Los Tuneles in Isabela, las Tijeretas on San Cristobal, Santa Fe Island, Bartolome or go snorkeling from one of the beaches.
If your child has never worn a snorkel mask before, take your time to practice before diving in. I took my youngest daughter snorkeling for the first time off the beach in Tortuga Bay. At first, she had difficulties to calmly breathe through her goggles, but after just 10 minutes she was just like a sea lion in the water!
When snorkeling off the beach, take your time to get all equipment on and then walk backwards in the sea… or you will look just like a Boobie walking silly on its big blue feet!
Most day-trip boats will have a pair of goggles, fins, and wetsuits for kids to rent. It´s important to do a fitting of all equipment before taking off on your snorkeling activity to make sure everything fits.
Fins are very important for snorkeling as they give you speed and help you dive too. Make sure the fins are just the right size and on the tight side, if they are too big, they will come off.
This is a picture we took at Los Tuneles – our number 1 favorite snorkeling site! Notice her happy turtle smile!
Snorkeling looks so effortless and easy that you forget that it can also be dangerous, especially when there are strong currents or you are snorkeling close to rocks! Kids are quick inside the water and can get out of reach really fast, so take these precautions for a safe & enjoyable trip:
• Use an inflatable floatie: especially for open water, these are very useful and usually have bright colors so you can easily see your child underwater. This device is worn around the neck and self-inflated. The floaties that we used, gave my kids lots of confidence to even swim by themselves. You can either bring your own or ask your snorkel company to lend you one.
• Use a life vest: every boat in Galapagos has life vests available, also for children. A life vest works perfectly as well. My daughter said it also helped her to keep warm.
On several snorkeling trips, our guide snorkeled together with the group and brought a floating ring that your child could grab and hang on to if needed. In deep snorkel sites, we preferred to just hold hands and snorkel together.
You should also inform your guide and crew members that your child is a beginner and ask them to keep an extra eye on you!
Galapagos waters are generally quite cold, and children tend to cool down a lot quicker than adults, so it is a good idea to use wetsuits.
Ask your child during the activity several times whether they feel cold because they won´t know when to stop! Have a towel ready to keep them warm as soon as they get out of the water. Snacks are also great to restore lost energy after snorkeling!
Most wetsuits are shorties which means you have to protect your legs, arms, and neck against the sun – in the cold fresh water you won´t notice a sunburn – don´t forget your ears!
Snorkeling in Galapagos with your kids will be an unforgettable experience! So remember to have fun while in the water – my kids invented underwater signs to communicate…a sign to ask if ok, a sign to point out a beautiful fish, and a sign for sharks! They also kept a diary with drawings of the fish we saw and looked up their names on the internet.
Another good idea is to bring your underwater camera to create fun memories from your Galapagos snorkeling trip. A go-pro with stick works well to get close to wildlife – do make sure to have a strap so you don´t lose your camera underwater.
I really hope that other parents find this trip report useful; please do add any of your own tips in the comment section below, we would love to hear them.
Above all, enjoy snorkeling with your kids in the paradise that is Galapagos!