Tagus Cove is a deep-water bay on the western coast of Isabela Island, below the renowned Darwin Lake. It can only be visited from a cruise tour. The site is known for its flightless cormorants, penguins, and sea lions, which are often spotted lying on the rocky shore or swimming close to the banks. Put on you fins, mask, and snorkel and come meet them! You might also encounter green turtles, common stingrays along the way, or perhaps a yellow seahorse for the luckiest ones!

Snorkeling with flightless cormorant at Tagus Cove, Galapagos

How to get there?

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 go on a multi-day naturalist cruise within the archipelago. Be sure to check when booking that the site is included in the itinerary.

Water entrance

Drop offs are made directly from the boat.

Tagus Cove snorkeling map, Isabela

Exploration

Tagus Cove is bordered by a steep rocky coastline, where one can snorkel to explore the underwater life.

On the surface of the water (0-2m/0-6ft), the rocky 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 a large number of starfishes (the panamic cushion star, the chocolate chip sea star) and urchins, such as the Galápagos green sea urchin, that has literally taken over parts of the seabed (2-4m/6-13ft), long-spined sea urchins or slate pencil urchins, that are both less numerous. Many species of fish love the cavities and the rock walls – among them there are the large-banded blenny, the coral hawkfish, and the hawkfish.

Pacific seahorse at Tagus Cove, Galapagos

Here and there, you can encounter sargassum fixed on the rocks (1-3m/3-10ft) and cradled by the movement of the waves. This is also the right spot to watch Pacific seahorses clinging to algae with their prehensile tails. However, although their presence is common on Tagus Cove, they remain very difficult to spot, since they are often well camouflaged in the underwater landscape.

Throughout your exploration, you will undoubtedly come across green turtles, which like to take advantage of the calm waters of the bay to feed on the green algae covering the rocks.

Cushion sea star and urchin at Tagus Cove, Galapagos

A snorkeling outing in Tagus Cove is also the opportunity to observe in the water two emblematic birds of the archipelago: the Galápagos penguin (its population is concentrated on Fernandina Island and on the western coast of Isabela Island) and the flightless cormorant (endemic to both islands). They are often spotted swimming on the surface of the water (sometimes very close to the snorkelers) or hunting along the seabed (3-6m/10-20ft).

The underwater visibility on this site is very random, just like along all the western coast of Isabela Island. It is not uncommon that snorkeling outings organized by cruises are cancelled due to bad visibility (green/opaque water).

Restaurant and accommodation

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

 

  • Level required Intermediary
  • 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.