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Playa de la Estación is considered the best free shore access snorkeling spot in Puerto Ayora, the main town in the Galápagos Islands. Sheltered by a rock barrier, the shallow bay allows for spotting stingrays, sea urchins, starfish, reef fish, and occasional small sharks.

Playa de la Estacion, Puerto Ayora
Playa de la Estación, Puerto Ayora.

How to get to Playa de la Estación snorkeling spot?

Playa de la Estación (Station Beach) is a small beach located on the edge of the town of Puerto Ayora, on the southern shores of Santa Cruz. The beach is located opposite the Charles Darwin Station, a scientific research center dedicated to the Galápagos Islands, from which it takes its name.

From the Puerto Ayora jetty, it takes about 15 minutes on foot to reach the beach following the road that runs along the shore (Avenida Charles Darwin). The beach is well signposted.

Playa de la Estación is located in the Galápagos National Park. It is open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day. Free entry.

Playa de la Estacion (Puerto Ayora) snorkeling map.
Playa de la Estacion (Puerto Ayora) snorkeling map.

Water entrance for snorkeling Playa de la Estación

The water is from the small sandy beach. It is advisable to snorkel Playa de la Estación early in the morning, and preferably at low tide.

Playa de la Estación snorkeling exploration tips

The small bay facing Playa de la Estación is well suited to snorkeling as it is sheltered by a rock barrier. The sea is generally very calm, but underwater visibility can vary.

Galápagos sharks at Playa de la Estacion
Juvenile Galápagos sharks are sometimes spotted in the bay.

On this spot, the seabed is mainly rocky and sandy, with in places small colonies of rather dull corals. The depth does not exceed 6 feet/2 meters, which allows for observing marine life from the surface.

Even in the shallow areas near the beach, many fish can be spotted, including mullet, salema, and bullseye puffers.

Pencil urchin at Playa de la Estacion
Slate pencil urchins are easy to spot in the rocks.

The large sandy area on the left allows for encounters with small stingrays of different species, busy feeding by digging in the sand.

As you snorkel along the rocks, you will see sergeant majors, Gregory (abundant in places), and threebanded butterflyfish. Sometimes a Galápagos sea lion hovers above the seabed – they are also often seen sleeping on the beach.

Diamond stingray at Playa de la Estacion
Juvenile stingrays from several species live in the sandy areas. Here, a Diamond stingray.

At certain times of the year, which are difficult to predict, small Galápagos sharks settle by the dozen in the bay.

Restaurants and accommodations nearby

There is no restaurant on the beach, but you will find a large choice of accommodation and food options in town.


  • Level required Beginner
  • Protected areaParque Nacional Galápagos
  • Maximum depth6 feet/2 meters
  • Water entranceFrom a sandy beach
  • LifeguardNo
  • Visitor numbersLow
  • Access costsFree
  • 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.