Spot

Concha de Perla

written in collaboration with Che-Lo (1 spots)


Concha de Perla (Pearl Shell) is located next to Puerto Villamil, on Isabela Island, the largest of the Galápagos archipelago. It is one of the rare snorkeling spots located outside the National Park, meaning that you can explore it without being accompanied by a guide. In the sheltered lagoon, you will easily swim with fur seals, penguins, sea turtles, iguanas, and many other marine species.
How to get there?

From Puerto Villamil, get to the boat pier. Just before the boat pier, take the little boardwalk on the left (facing the pier) and walk about 3minutes to the lagoon. You can get a taxi from Puerto Villamil to the Pier for approx. $2 per person (5min drive) or walk 20min from town to arrive at the Pier where the boardwalk to the lagoon starts.

The whole wooden path going from the pier to the Concha de Perla lagoon usually has lots of sea lions sleeping on the path. Approach them slowly and carefully prior to "crossing" over them to ensure they are not aggressive. (only the males tend to sometimes be aggressive when out of the water and female with young baby). 

Water entrance

The access is made via a wooden platform with stairs leading to the water. You can get in the water by the stairs (one on the left, one on the right, facing the water), if snorkeling at low tide, use the stairs on the left (facing the water) as they go lower into the water (easier to get out of the water at low tide using the stairs on the left too).

Aerial view

Exploration

Concha de Perla is a lagoon closed off by a reef barrier. It is safe to swim in and visibility is best at low tide. While the lagoon itself is not part of the Galapagos National park, the area beyond the lagoon (where there is a sign saying "stop" after the coral bareer, see map above), is called Tintoreras and is part of the National Park. Access to the coral reef is prohibited, as it's currently recovering from previous damage. The Tintoreras area, further south, is only accessible with an official guide from the National Park (by boat and by walking over the volcanic rocks). Only swim inside the designated area and do not go beyond without a guide.

Be careful with sea uchins, there are lots of them on the floors of the lagoon, especially on the left side of the lagoon (when facing the water from the platform). Do not stand without assuring clear of urchins and be mindful of the sea lions.

snorkeling-penguin-concha-perla-galapagos
Galápagos penguins at Concha de Perla

Be also careful if snorkeling on the right side, especially if going more through the back. There is a rope there with a "stop" sign and you will see the tourist boats a little further. In this area, you need to be aware that the current can become strong once the tide comes in and it can be hard to swim against that current without fins. The rest of the lagoon doesn't really have currents at all, especially at low tide.

The seabed is made of sand, interspersed with rocks and some corals. On the seafloor, look for the different species of starfish living in the lagoon. Turtles, rays, sea lions, penguins and iguanas are without any doubt the stars of Concha de Perla, but many reef fish species can also be spotted in the area, including damselfish, parrotfish, butterflyfish, rainbow wrasse and Mexican hogfish.

Restaurants and accommodation

There is usually a couple of sellers at the pier selling empanadas or ice creams and drinks, 2min from the lagoon. There are also bathrooms open during daily hours at the pier. A wide range of restaurants and hotels are located in Puerto Villamil, the only town of Isabela Island.

Snorkeling Report gives the most precise tips possible about the snorkeling spots and potential dangers, but each one of us is responsible for our own safety in the water. For more information, take a look at the snorkeling safety page. If you want to add extra information or make any corrections to the spot descriptions, please contact us.

Spot’s weather forecasts (°C)

Spot tips

  • Type of spot
  • Level of difficulty
    Beginner
  • Maximum depth
    12ft/4m
  • Water entrance
    Easy, from ladders
  • Potential Dangers
    Urchins, currents. Be mindful of the sea lions.
  • Lifeguard
    No
  • Visitor numbers
    Medium to high
  • Access costs
    Free
  • Restaurants nearby
    Sellers near the pier
  • Public toilets & showers
    Yes

Spot map

Spot photos

Underwater spot photos

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