Free shore access
This spot have a free shore access: you can go snorkeling there freely and without having to book a tour or pay an entrance fee.
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Lekeitio is a small fishing village in the Basque Country nestled in hills covered with eucalyptus trees. A few hundred meters from its shores, the small Isla San Nicolás, or Isla Garraitz, boasts some of the nicest snorkeling in the region. Snorkeling around the island, you’ll explore nice rocky beds where small fish, and exceptionally rays, can be spotted.
The spot is located in Leikeitio, in the Spanish Basque Country, about a 1-hour drive from Bilbao, 1h15 from San Sebastián, and 1h50 from Bayonne. There is parking available near Playa de Karraspio (free, excepted during summer).
There are two recommended water entrance points:
It is recommended to explore this spot only at flood tide, when the sea is at its calmest. If there are surf or currents, postpone your session.
The best way to explore the area is to snorkel all around the San Nicolás Island either from the west, starting from Playa de Isuntza, or from the east, starting from Playa de Karraspio.
The complete tour of the island, which represents a route of more than 1000m, should only be considered by seasoned snorkelers. You can also snorkel the island without doing the whole tour, preferably along its eastern shore, which is more sheltered.
From the beach, you will first explore sandy beds where schools of small fish are often seen. Approaching the island, the seabed starts being covered with rocks.
Covered in some places by different kinds of seaweeds, the rocks are called home by many fish, including sargo and mullets. San Nicolás Island may offer some exceptional encounters, such as the marbled electric ray spotted between the sandy and rocky beds by Hugzzzer.
On the east side, always stay close to the paved path or the islet shore, as there is important boat traffic around Lekeitio port.
Lekeitio has a small town center built around the port where many good restaurants are found. There are also three small taverns where you can eat near Karraspio Beach parking lot.
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.
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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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Sheltered bay with rocky and grassy seabed
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Marine reserve with shallow rocky beds and snorkel trail