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If the small Pinzón Island (also called Duncan Island) is not one of the most popular in the Galápagos, it offers some of the best snorkeling in the archipelago. If you have the chance to approach its shore (it is not allowed to land on the island without a special permit), do not hesitate a second to wear your mask and fins and jump in the water! Below the surface, you will encounter lots of sharks, turtles and sea lions, as well as large shoals of tropical fish.

Snorkeling with whitetip sharks in Pinzon Island
Whitetip sharks are found in numbers in Pinzon, where they are mostly seen resting on the seafloor.

How to get to Pinzón Island for snorkeling?

Pinzón Island is located approximately 10 kilometers West of Santa Cruz Island. Pinzón is uninhabited and accessible only by day boat tours from Puerto Ayora or Baltra (about $130-$180 per person), or via multi-day naturalist cruises including snorkeling at Pinzón in their itineraries.

Pinzón Island has no visitor sites and a special permit is required to land on the island. Make sure when booking your tour or cruise that snorkeling in Pinzón is included.

Pinzon Island snorkeling map, Galapagos

How to get into the water for snorkeling Pinzón Island?

It is not allowed to land on Pinzón without a special permit. You will enter the water directly from the boat.

Pinzón snorkeling tips and recommendations

The best snorkeling area in Pinzón extends along the northeastern coast of the island. It encompasses a sheltered and shallow bay, as well as a tiny islet lying just a few dozen meters from the main island.

Depending on sea conditions and instructions from the National Park, the snorkeling session can be moved to a nearby area around Pinzón.

Snorkeling with Galapagos sea turtles in Pizon Island
A Galápagos green sea turtle in Pinzón Island.

On this spot, the seabed alternates between sand (particularly between the coast and the islet) and rocks covered with different kinds of seaweed (↕1-4m/3-12ft). Pinzón offers fantastic Galápagos marine life watching opportunities.

Along its coast, you’ll encounter many sea turtles feeding on the seaweed, but also groups of whitetip sharks resting in the shadows, surrounded by hundreds of tiny blacktip cardinalfish. Sea lions, very playful, regularly join the visitors, and it is also possible to spot Galápagos penguins, especially during winter months.

King angelfish, schools of bluebarred parrotfish and razor surgeonfish… The aggregation of sea life around Pinzón offers a fabulous show, only matched by a few other snorkeling spots in the archipelago.

School of parrotfish in Pinzon Island
A large school of bluebarred parrotfish noted in Pinzón.

Restaurants and accommodation nearby

Pinzón is an uninhabited island, entirely natural, and protected by the Galápagos National Park. Tours generally include lunch and refreshments served on board. All multi-day cruises are full board.


  • Level required Intermediate
  • Protected areaParque Nacional Galápagos
  • Maximum depth18ft/6m
  • Water entranceFrom a boat
  • LifeguardNo
  • Visitor numbersLow
  • Access costsSnorkeling tour (from $130pp.) or cruise

MAP Spot

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.