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Last updated on August 23, 2023
Gardner Island is a natural islet close to Española, the southernmost island of Galápagos. It is one of the best spots in the archipelago to snorkel with sea lions. Playful and inquisitive, they often join the snorkelers in the water. A must-do snorkeling tour if you are visiting San Cristóbal!
Gardner Island is located a few hundred meters north of Española Island and faces Gardner Bay. Just like Española, Gardner Island is uninhabited and accessible only by cruise or by day trip from San Cristóbal (about $200-$250 per person).
Water entrance is from the boat.
The snorkeling area covers the little bay located on the west coast of the island. The seabed is rocky (↕2-5m/6.5-16ft), filled with algae, sponges, and corals, but poor in fish.
However, Gardner Island is an outstanding location to swim with Galápagos sea lions, which are its main attraction. While in the water, you’ll soon be approached by sea lions, including young and very playful males. They enjoy swimming around snorkelers and or nibbling the tip of their fins.
Face-to-face encounters with these inquisitive creatures are an unforgettable experience, which will certainly become one of your most beautiful snorkeling memories.
It is forbidden to touch animals in the entire Galápagos archipelago both on land or at sea. Sea lions are no exception, although they are sometimes the ones who seek contact.
Well sheltered, the bay is mostly calm and has good underwater visibility, although this may vary depending on weather and currents.
Gardner Island is uninhabited and entirely protected by the National Park. It is forbidden to disembark there. Day trips to Española Island include lunch, fruits, and refreshments served on board.
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.
A sea lion paradise! I’m not sure why but the sea lions here were more playful than anywhere else we snorkeled in the Galapagos. Also observed a school of yellow-fin surgeonfish, coral hawkfish, giant hawkfish, and a pacific green sea turtle. Lots of Mexican anemone compared to other snorkeling spots we visited in the archipelago
Many thanks for your comment, species list was updated! Guillaume
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Snorkeling spots are part of a wild environment and their aspect can be significantly altered by weather, seasons, sea conditions, human impact and climate events (storms, hurricanes, seawater-warming episodes…). The consequences can be an alteration of the seabed (coral bleaching, coral destruction, and invasive seagrass), a poor underwater visibility, or a decrease of the sea life present in the area. Snorkeling Report makes every effort to ensure that all the information displayed on this website is accurate and up-to-date, but no guarantee is given that the underwater visibility and seabed aspect will be exactly as described on this page the day you will snorkel the spot. If you recently snorkeled this area and noticed some changes compared to the information contained on this page, please contact us.
The data contained in this website is for general information purposes only, and is not legal advice. It is intended to provide snorkelers with the information that will enable them to engage in safe and enjoyable snorkeling, and it is not meant as a substitute for swim level, physical condition, experience, or local knowledge. Remember that all marine activities, including snorkeling, are potentially dangerous, and that you enter the water at your own risk. You must take an individual weather, sea conditions and hazards assessment before entering the water. If snorkeling conditions are degraded, postpone your snorkeling or select an alternate site. Know and obey local laws and regulations, including regulated areas, protected species, wildlife interaction and dive flag laws.
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