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Last updated on January 14, 2023
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’s south coast. A unique and spectacular snorkeling spot, not to be missed if you stay in Puerto Villamil.
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 cost on average between $120 and $150 per person.
Most tours include 1 or 2 snorkeling stops, and often a short hike around the “tunnels” to spot the sea lions, penguins and blue-footed boobies that live there. Inquire when booking what your tour includes.
The boat trip to 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.
You will enter the water from your boat.
Los Túneles site consists of a 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 snorkeling area will be indicated by the National Park guide, who will be present during the whole tour.
In the “tunnels”, the seabed is mainly made of sand and volcanic rocks (↕3-9ft/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 reef sharks, sometimes found in large groups resting on the seabed, especially in the underwater caves. Green sea 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 in the Galápagos) for encountering this fascinating creature
However, you’ll sometimes need a little luck to find them, as they can be incredibly well camouflaged. Stingrays, wrasse and even schools of golden rays are also frequently seen in Los Túneles.
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.
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.
Fantastic report, as usual!! Thanks Juan Carlos
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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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