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Concha de Perla is located next to Puerto Villamil, in Isabela, the largest island in the Galápagos. It is one of the rare snorkeling spots located outside the National Park, meaning that you can explore it without being supervised by a guide. In the sheltered lagoon, you will easily swim with sea lions, penguins, sea turtles, iguanas, and many other marine species.

Marine iguana in Concha de Perla
A marine iguana in Concha de Perla mangrove.

How to go snorkeling in Concha de Perla?

Concha de Perla is located near Puerto Villamil, Isabela’s only inhabited area. From Puerto Villamil, get to the boat pier by foot (20 minutes walk) or by taxi (5 minutes). Just before the boat pier, take the little boardwalk on the left (facing the pier) and walk about 3 minutes to the lagoon.

Snorkeling with Galapagos penguin at Concha de Perla
Concha de Perla is probably the best location in the Galápagos Islands to swim with penguins.

Lots of sea lions usually sleep on the wooden path going from the pier to the lagoon. Approach them slowly and carefully prior to “crossing” over them to ensure they are not aggressive (only the males and females with cubs tend to sometimes be aggressive).

Concha de Perla snorkeling map, Isabela

Entering the water to snorkel Concha de Perla

Water entrance is from a wooden platform with stairs leading to the water. You can get in the water by one of the stairs. If snorkeling at low tide, use the left stairs, which are going deeper.

Sea urchin at Concha de Perla
A slate pencil urchin and a green sea urchin in Concha de Perla rocks.

Concha de Perla snorkeling tips and recommendations

Concha de Perla is a lagoon closed off by a reef. It is safe to swim in and visibility is best at low tide. While the lagoon itself is not part of the Galápagos National Park, the area beyond the lagoon (where there is a “stop” sign after the coral reef, see map above), is called Tintoreras and is part of the National Park.

Access to the coral reef is prohibited, as it is 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.

Stingray at Concha de Perla
A diamond stingray noted in the rocks.

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

Be also careful if snorkeling on the right side. 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. The rest of the lagoon doesn’t really have currents at all, especially at low tide.

Snorkeling with sea lion at Concha de Perla, Isabela
Sea lions in Concha de Perla are very inquisitive.

The seabed is made of sand, interspersed with rocks and some corals. On the seabed, 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, wrasse and Mexican hogfish.

Restaurants and accommodation nearby

There is usually a couple of stands at the pier selling empanadas or ice creams and drinks, a few minute’s walk 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 on Isabela Island.


  • Level required Beginner
  • Protected areaParque Nacional Galápagos
  • Maximum depth12ft/4m
  • Water entranceEasy, from ladders
  • Potential DangersUrchins, currents. Be careful with the sea lions.
  • LifeguardNo
  • Visitor numbersMedium to high
  • Access costsFree
  • Restaurants nearbySellers near the pier
  • Public toilets & showersYes

MAP Spot

These snorkeling spots are accessible to beginners and kids. You will enter the water gradually from a beach, or in a less than 3ft. deep area. The sea is generally calm, shallow, with almost no waves or currents. These spots are usually located in marked and/or monitored swimming areas. It is not necessary to swim long distances to discover the sea life.

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.