This spot has been added by

snorkeling team
Snorkeling Report's team
Other contributors You can help us keep this page up-to-date by uploading your pictures to the photo gallery, or by sending us your comments via the contact form

Last updated on

From the viewpoint of Cerro Tijeretas in the heights of San Cristóbal, it is hard to not be charmed by the breathtaking panorama of Darwin Bay. Nestled on an arid coast, the bay, with its turquoise water, offers a picture-postcard setting. Underwater, you may encounter some of the bay’s most iconic inhabitants, including sea turtles, sea lions, sharks, and a whole host of colored fish. It is one of the few snorkeling spots of the Galápagos Islands that can be explored without a guide.

Darwin Bay snorkeling access, San Cristobal
Snorkeling access is very easy, from rock steps.

How to go snorkeling Darwin Bay?

Cerro Tijeretas is located on San Cristóbal Island, one of the few inhabited islands of the Galápagos Archipelago. You can enter and snorkel the spot freely without a guide.

First, get to the Interpretation Center located north of Puerto Barquerizo Moreno, either on foot (about a 20-minute walk from the port) or by taxi. Access to the center is free of charge, but you need to register at the admission desk.

Behind the center, you will find a paved path that you have to follow for approximately 300 meters. At the fork, turn to the right on the track that heads up to the bay and the spectacular viewpoint of Cerro Tijeretas. The left track will take you down to the Punta Carola beach, another well-known snorkeling spot.

Darwin Bay snorkeling map, San Cristobal

Water entrance for snorkeling Darwin Bay

At the end of the path, concrete steps on the shore allow smooth water entrance.

Darwin Bay snorkeling tips and recommendations

It is possible to snorkel the entire bay. However, we recommend focusing on the calmest and shallowest areas located on the south side (see map above). Darwin Bay seabed is rocky, covered in places by tiny hard corals, urchins, and sponges.

The western edge of the bay (on your left when facing the sea) is made up of rocks filled with tiny algae (↕1-3m/3-10ft) that are much liked by Galápagos green turtles. You will have great chances to spot some of them busy grazing among the rocks.

Scorpionfish in Darwin Bay, San Cristobal snorkeling
A Pacific spotted scorpionfish in Darwin Bay.

On the right side, the seabed is more varied, with here and there immersed rocks that fell down from the cliffs surrounding the bay. It is the Galápagos sea lions’ playground. You can spot them both in and outside the water, but most of them are shy.

Among all the fish living in the bay, the king angelfish, the Cortez rainbow wrasse, and the bluebarred parrotfish are the most colorful. You will also probably come across schools of razor surgeonfish, Mexican hogfish, or scorpionfish.

Sea turtle in Darwin Bay, San Cristobal snorkeling
A green sea turtle in Darwin Bay.

In the deeper areas, such as in the center of the bay, it is not uncommon to spot a common stingray, a common eagle ray, or a whitetip reef shark resting on the seabed.

Restaurants & accommodation nearby

Darwin Bay is located in a natural site, where there are no options to buy food or beverages. Bring some water with you. You will find a large choice of restaurants and accommodation in Puerto Barquerizo Moreno.


  • Level required Beginner
  • Protected areaParque Nacional Galápagos
  • Maximum depth12ft/4m
  • Water entranceFrom steps built on the rocks
  • LifeguardNo
  • Visitor numbersMedium to high
  • Access costsFree
  • Restaurants nearbyNo
  • Public toilets & showersNo

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.