Imagine fantastic series of lava tunnels and volcanic arches bathed in turquoise water, where dozens of white-tip sharks, sea turtles, and seahorses can be seen: welcome to Los Túneles (The Tunnels), an otherworldly site located on Isabela island south coast. A unique and spectacular snorkeling spot, not to be missed if you stay in Puerto Villamil.

Snorkeling with blacktip sharks in Los Tuneles, Galapagos

How to get there?

To snorkel Los Túneles, you’ll have to book a day boat trip from Puerto Villamil, the only inhabited area on Isabela Island. Tours generally include snorkeling gear, lunch and drinks, and costs on average between $120 and $150 per person. Tours include 1 or 2 snorkeling stops, and often a short hike around the “tunnels” to observe the sea lions, penguins and blue-footed boobies that live there. Inquire when booking what your tour includes. The sailing time between Puerto Villamil and Los Túneles varies from 1 to 1:30 depending on sea conditions. Multi-day cruises in the archipelago are generally not allowed to stop at Los Túneles.

Los Tuneles snorkeling map, Isabela Island

Water entrance

You will enter the water from your boat.

Exploration

Los Túneles site consists of series of pools, tunnels and narrow passages created by ancient lava flows. Protected by a lava barrier, this unique “lagoon” shelters calm, clear, shallow waters, contrasting with the rather rough ocean. The area to snorkel will be indicated by the National Park guide, who will accompany you during the whole tour.

Seahorse spotting at Los Tuneles, Galapagos

In the “tunnels”, the seabed mainly made of sand and volcanic rocks (↕1-3m), covered with algae and some coral polyps. Mangrove areas can also be found around the spot.

The unique Los Túneles environment attracts countless whitetip sharks, sometimes found in large groups resting on the seabed, especially in the underwater caves. Green turtles are also abundant here, feeding on the algae. If you dream about spotting seahorses in the wild, you are at the right place: Los Túneles is an exceptional site (probably the best of the Galápagos) for meeting this fascinating creature. However, you’ll sometimes need a little luck to find them, as they can be incredibly well camouflaged. Stingrays, rainbow wrasse and even schools of golden rays are also frequently seen in Los Túneles.

Los Tuneles, Isabela Island, Galapagos

Restaurants and accommodation

Most tours include lunch and drinks, which will be taken on the boat (it is not allowed to land in the National Park with food). Inquire when booking what your tour includes.



 

  • Level required Beginner
  • Protected areaParque Nacional Galápagos
  • Maximum depth10ft/3m
  • Water entranceFrom a boat
  • LifeguardNo
  • Visitor numbersMedium
  • Access costsSnorkeling tour price (from 120pp.)
  • Restaurants nearbyNo

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.