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Tagus Cove is a sheltered 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, stingrays, and sometimes Pacific seahorses.

Snorkelers at Tagus Cove
Snorkelers at Tagus Cove.

How to go snorkeling Tagus Cove?

Tagus Cove is only accessible by boat. Located on the northwestern coast of Isabela Island, 125 miles away from the closest inhabited areas, the only way to visit the site is to board a multi-day naturalist cruise.

Tagus Cove is a popular stop for cruise ships visiting the western coast of Isabela but check that it is included in your itinerary.

Tagus Cove snorkeling map, Isabela
Tagus Cove snorkeling map, Isabela Island.

Water entrance for snorkeling Tagus Cove

Water entrance is from a boat.

Tagus Cove snorkeling tips and recommendations

Tagus Cove is lined by a steep rocky coastline. Near the surface, 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.

A chocolate sea star at Tagus Cove
A Chocolate starfish at Tagus Cove.

The site is also filled with large numbers of starfish and urchins, such as the Galápagos green sea urchin, the long-spined sea urchin and the slate pencil urchin (see species list at the bottom of the page.

Many species of fish find shelter in the cracks of the wall, including large-banded blenny, coral hawkfish, and giant hawkfish.

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

Tagus Cove is probably one of the best locations in the Galápagos to swim with two of the most legendary birds of the archipelago: the Galápagos penguin and the flightless cormorant (endemic to Fernandina and Isabela). They are often spotted swimming on the surface of the water or fishing in deeper waters.

Some parts of the walls are covered with sargassum, which is the habitat of Pacific seahorses. However, although their presence is common in Tagus Cove shallows (except when the water gets too warm, in particular during El Niño events), seahorses are difficult to spot since they are well camouflaged in the seagrass.

Galapagos penguin at Tagus Cove
Encounter with a Galápagos penguin. The largest populations of this endemic species are found on the western coast of Isabela.

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

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