From the top of the Bartolome Island, visitors can enjoy unforgettable vistas of the Galapagos archipelago like none other. The views of the little golden beaches of the Bartolome isthmus, the famous Pinnacle Rock, and the lunar-like landscape of the Santa Cruz Island studded with craters and lava flows are simply breathtaking. But this magnificent landscape is also home to many more wonders: sharks, turtles, penguins, sea lions, and hundreds of colored fish. Bartolome is simply one of the most beautiful snorkeling sites of the entire archipelago.

Snorkeling with penguin in Bartolome Island, Galapagos

How to get there?

Bartolome is a small volcanic island just a few hundred meters off the east coast of Santiago island. This unmissable site is a very popular stop while cruising – the most pleasant way to visit the island. Bartolome is also accessible on a one-day boat trip from Porto Ayora, located on Santa Cruz Island, the closest inhabited island. Most of tours offered by on-site operators include a visit of Bartolome, a hike to its famous viewpoint, and a snorkeling activity in the vicinity. The price ranges from $220 to $250/person, with food and materials included. However, the journey is long (45 minute drive and 2 hour boat trip, there and back) and the availability of such excursions is not guaranteed.

Water entrance

Drop offs are made directly from the boat.

Bartolome Island snorkeling map, Galapagos

Exploration

The most famous snorkeling spot of Bartolome extends along the southern coast of the island. Depending on sea conditions and instructions from the National Park, the snorkeling session can be moved to a nearby area, around Bartolome or in Sullivan Bay, which faces the island.

The southern coast of Bartolome is relatively steep, creating sandy seabed that are 4 to 10 meters (13 to 33ft) deep. Your guide will take you to a snorkeling journey along the coast to discover the underwater life of the island.
The shallower rocky areas (1-2m/1-6.5ft) offer the chance to observe colorful fishes, such a parrotfish, king angelfish, the Mexican hogfish, or even some fearful squirrelfish, which gather in the dark, under the rocks.

Panamic cushion sea star in Bartolome Island, Galapagos

Schools of razor surgeonfish, often very impressive, graze from one rock to the other. You can even spot in some places hundreds of starfish sitting on a ledge, mainly panamic cushion star – the most common ones are a more or less brilliant red color – and chocolate chip sea stars, especially the yellow ones which are smaller. Bartolome island is also a site very much liked by green turtles, which can be found either in shallow water or on the surface.

Do not neglect the deep sandy areas (6-10m/20-33ft). These are often perfect sites to spot common stingrays, whitetip sharks, as well as compact schools of hundreds of porkfish, hiding among the rocks.

Coral hawkfish in Bartolome Island, Galapagos

Curious sea lions are also common visitors of the site. The luckiest snorkelers can also cross paths with Galápagos penguins, which have established colonies in the vicinity. Undisturbed by the presence of people, they may even swim alongside snorkelers before diving into deep water searching for food.

Restaurant and accommodation

Bartolome is an uninhabited island, entirely natural and protected by the Galapagos National Park, where no water and food can be purchased. Cruise and boat-trip operators are responsible for providing food and beverages.

 

  • Level required Intermediary
  • Protected areaParque Nacional Galápagos
  • Maximum depth20ft/6m
  • Water entranceFrom a boat
  • LifeguardNo
  • Visitor numbersLow
  • Access costsTour or cruise price
  • Restaurants nearbyNo
  • Public toilets & showersNo

MAP Spot

These spots are accessible to anyone with basic snorkeling skills, and feeling comfortable in the water and with his snorkeling gear. You will enter the water from the shore (beach, pontoon, ladder, rocks) or from a boat. The water height in the sea entrance area is reasonable, but you will not necessarily be within your depth. Moderate currents can occur in the area, even when the sea conditions are good. The distance to swim to reach the most interesting snorkeling areas of the spot does not exceed 200 meters.

This level only apply when the spot experiences optimal sea and/or weather conditions. It is not applicable if the sea and/or weather conditions deteriorate, in particular in the presence of rough sea, rain, strong wind, unusual current, large tides, waves and/or swell. You can find more details about the definition of our snorkeling levels on our snorkeling safety page.