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Last updated on January 14, 2023
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.
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.
It is not allowed to land on Pinzón without a special permit. You will enter the water directly from the boat.
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.
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.
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.
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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