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The small island of Rabida, in the heart of the Galápagos Archipelago, is well known for its red sand beach and sea lions. But, its rocky coast also makes it a great snorkeling location where turtles, sea lions and dozens of brightly colored fish can be spotted.

Snorkeling with sea turtle in Rabida Island, Galapagos
Green sea turtles are abundant in Rabida shore waters.

How to go snorkeling in Rabida Island?

Day trips on the island of Rabida from Puerto Ayora are not allowed by the National Park. The only way to snorkel the island is to participate in a naturalist cruise. Make sure when you book that the cruise includes snorkeling at this spot.

Rabida Island snorkeling map, Galapagos

Entering the water to snorkel Rabida Island

Water entrance is from the boat.

Rabida Island snorkeling tips and recommendations

The main snorkeling area is along the rocky coast that extends south of the red sand beach. Depending on sea conditions and instructions from the National Park, your snorkeling may be moved to another area.

At this spot, the underwater landscape is made of large rocks (↕1-3m/3-10 ft). In places, the seabed is covered with slate pencil urchins, with brown and purple shells and grayish spines. You can also find hard corals encrusted in the rocks.

Angelfish and parrotfish in Rabida Island, Galapagos
Rabida’s shore waters are full of fish. Here, a pair of king angelfish surrounded by bluebarred parrotfish.

The area is home to schools of bluebarred parrotfish feeding on tiny marine algae covering the rocks. In deeper areas, you may also spot king angelfish, goatfish, and huge schools of razor surgeonfish.

On the rocks, try to find the small hawkfish waiting for careless prey to swim too close.

Pencil sea urchin in Rabida Island, Galapagos
Hundreds of slate pencil urchins are found on the rocky beds.

Rabida is a great spot to swim with Galápagos green turtles. You will see them float peacefully on the water’s surface, only a few meters from shore. Some young and inquisitive sea lions often come and play with snorkelers.

Restaurants & accommodation nearby

Rabida is an uninhabited island, entirely natural, and protected by the Galápagos National Park. It is only accessible through 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.