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Tagus Cove is a deep-water bay on the western coast of Isabela Island, below the renowned Darwin Lake. It can only be visited during a cruise. The site is known for its flightless cormorants, penguins, and sea lions, which are often spotted lying on the rocky shore or in the water. You might also encounter in this area green sea turtles, diamond stingrays, or perhaps a Pacific seahorse!

Snorkeling with flightless cormorant at Tagus Cove, Galapagos
Flightless cormorants can be very inquisitive towards snorkelers.

How to go snorkeling Tagus Cove?

Tagus Cove is only accessible by boat. Located north of Isabela Island, 200km away from the closest inhabited areas, the only way to visit the site is to board a multi-day naturalist cruise. Be sure to check when booking that the site is included in the itinerary.

Tagus Cove snorkeling map, Isabela

Water entrance for snorkeling Tagus Cove

Water entrance is from a boat.

Tagus Cove snorkeling tips and recommendations

Tagus Cove is has by a steep rocky coastline. At the surface of the water (0-2m/0-6ft), the walls are covered with sponges, algae, gorgonians, and incrusting corals, including orange cup coral, which are stony corals with large polyps that can be yellow, orange, or pink.

The site is also filled with large numbers of starfish (mostly the Galápagos starfish and the chocolate starfish) and urchins, such as the Galápagos green sea urchin, long-spined sea urchins and slate pencil urchins. Many species of fish find shelter in the cracks found in the wall, including large-banded blenny, coral hawkfish, and giant hawkfish.

Pacific seahorse at Tagus Cove, Galapagos
A Pacific seahorse in Tagus Cove.

Some areas are covered with dense sargassum, which is the habitat of Pacific seahorses. However, although their presence is common in Tagus Cove shallows, they remain very difficult to spot, since they are well camouflaged in the seagrass.

During your snorkeling, you may have the chance to spot green sea turtles, which like to feed on the algae covering the rocks.

Cushion sea star and urchin at Tagus Cove, Galapagos
A Galápagos starfish surrounded by green sea urchins.

Snorkeling in Tagus Cove is also an opportunity to spot in the water two of the most legendary birds of the archipelago: the Galápagos penguin (its population is restricted to Fernandina Island and the western coast of Isabela Island) and the flightless cormorant (endemic to these two islands). They are often spotted swimming on the surface of the water or fishing in deeper waters (3-6m/10-20ft).

The underwater visibility on this site is very random, just like along all the western coast of Isabela Island. Snorkeling is sometimes canceled by cruises due to insufficient underwater visibility.

Restaurant and accommodation nearby

Tagus Cove is a natural site, which can only be visited by embarking on a multi-day and full-board naturalist cruise.


  • Level required Intermediate
  • Protected areaParque Nacional Galápagos
  • Maximum depth12ft/4m
  • 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.