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Last updated on January 14, 2023
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!
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.
Water entrance is from a boat.
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.
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.
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.
Tagus Cove is a natural site, which can only be visited by embarking on a multi-day and full-board naturalist 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.
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