The small island of Rabida located in the heart of the Galápagos Archipelago is well known for its spectacular red sand beach, often occupied by peaceful sea lions. But, its rocky coast also makes it a great place for snorkeling trips where turtles, sea lions and dozens of species of brightly colored fish can be viewed only feet from the shoreline.
Day trips on the island of Rabida from Puerto Ayora are prohibited by the National Park. The only way to snorkel in the vicinity of the island is to go on a multi-day naturalist cruise on the archipelago. Make sure when you book that the cruise includes time on the island and snorkeling stops.
Drop offs are made directly from the boat.
The most well-known area for snorkeling at Rabida is located along the rocky coast that extends to the South of the red sand beach. Depending on sea conditions and instructions from the National Park, your snorkeling session may have to take place in another area of the island.
At this spot, the underwater landscape is rocky, scattered, with cliffs composed of large sunken rocks (↕1-3m/3-10 ft). In places, the seabed is filled with slate pencil urchins belonging to the eucidaris thouarsii species, with brown and purple shells and grayish spines. You can also find hard corals encrusted among the rocks.
You can also spot schools of blue parrotfish – the male parrotfish is a brilliant blue/green color – enjoying shallow water areas (↕1-2m) cradled by waves and feeding on tiny marine algae covering the rocks. In low areas, you will surely encounter king angelfish, small groups of mullets, and possibly huge schools of razor surgeonfish. Among the rocks, try and surprise the redspotted Hawkfish – colorful fish that station themselves on the reef, motionless, waiting for careless prey to swim too close.
Rabida is a well-known spot to watch the Galápagos green turtles. Fearless, some of them float peacefully on the water’s surface only meters from the shore. Some young and curious sea lions often come and meet snorkelers, as well. You’ll never grow tired of watching them dive and perform amazing underwater acrobatics.
Rabida is an uninhabited island, entirely natural, and protected by the Galápagos National Park. It is only accessible by embarking on a full board cruise.
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.