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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.

Snorkeling with sea turtle in Rabida Island, Galapagos

How to get to Rabida Island?

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.

Entering the water to snorkel in Rabida Island

Drop offs are made directly from the boat.

Rabida Island snorkeling map, Galapagos

Rabida Island snorkeling tips and recommendations

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.

Angelfish and parrotfish in Rabida Island, Galapagos

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 red-spotted Hawkfish – colorful fish that station themselves on the reef, motionless, waiting for careless prey to swim too close.

Pencil sea urchin in Rabida Island, Galapagos

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.

Restaurants & accommodation nearby

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.


  • Level required Intermediate
  • Protected areaParque Nacional Galápagos
  • Maximum depth20ft/6m
  • Water entranceFrom a boat
  • LifeguardNo
  • Visitor numbersLow
  • Access costsCruise price
  • Restaurants nearbyNo
  • Public toilets & showersNo

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.