Snorkeling at Punta Vicente Roca is some of the best to be found among the extraordinary sites of the remote Galapagos Islands. Sitting right at what would be the mouth of Isabela’s seahorse-shaped island, on the northwest shore.
Millions of years ago a string of volcanoes erupted and joined together to form Isabela Island, one of the younger islands in this famous archipelago. Originally named Albemarle Island for the Duke of Albemarle by one of the first men to set foot on the islands in 1684, Isabela is the largest of all the islands, offering protected anchorages that attracted the likes of pirates, buccaneers, and whalers throughout its colourful history.
Protected as part of a UNESCO World Heritage site, the waters of Punta Vicente Roca are jam-packed with such spectacles that diving and snorkeling tours never cease to amaze both newbies and seasoned pros. Cool ocean currents, some coming all the way from Antarctica, bring unique and abounding biodiversity to these waters, including penguins and fur sea lions, as well as a wonderful variety of fish.
Marine Life In Punta Vicente Roca
A snorkel tour in Punta Vicente Roca’s bays means the opportunity to see anything from bright-hued reef fish, like parrotfish and wrasses, to stingrays and mantas, and even the rare Port Jackson shark. Pacific green sea turtles cruise gracefully along, stopping to feed on algae alongside marine iguanas, while Galápagos fur sea lions and sea lions dart past, enticing snorkeler to play.
At these incredible snorkel spots the lucky will see white-tipped reef sharks at any depth, maybe a passing hammerhead shark down in the deep blue, and a visit during June to November increases the chance of encounters with the largest fish in the oceans, the whale shark.
On a really good day snorkeling Punta Vicente Roca you might spot the huge but strange Mola mola or ocean sunfish lolling along beneath the surface. And if that wasn’t strange enough, you can snorkel with penguins on the equator. Ridiculously cute, the Galapagos penguin will literally swim circles around you.
Best Snorkel Sites in Punta Vicente Roca
The two aquamarine coves of Punta Vicente Roca offer some of the best snorkeling in the Galapagos Islands, protected from the ocean swells. These incredible snorkel spots sit on either side of a huge tuff cone, or vertical rock, that was formed during the explosive, volcanic creation of the islands, when an erupting volcano Ecuador spewed ash into the air and it became compacted into rock over millions of years. Cool, nutrient-rich water wells up from the deep attracting a wide variety of sea life.
Best Time To Snorkel in Punta Vicente Roca
Snorkeling in the Galapagos is amazing all year around, but during the warmer months of January to May short rainstorms will pass through on occasion, and the winds are calmer meaning flatter seas for your snorkeling escapades.
Although the ocean temperatures are generally around 20-25C (68-77F) in the islands, cool water flows up to the surface at Punta Vicente Roca thanks to a phenomenon known as the Cromwell Current, so it can feel quite a bit cooler here off Isabela. This means you’ll want at least a short wetsuit, and maybe even a full one, to keep you warm while looking out for passing manta rays or hammerhead sharks at this time of year.
The dryer “garua” season from June to December brings cool, dry weather to islands. The sea also cools down, and can sometimes reach a somewhat chilly 17C (62F), when you’ll definitely want to wrap in a good wetsuit, so you won’t be distracted by the cool water while looking out for whale sharks that are more abundant in these months, and the chance to glimpse the giant but elusive sunfish or Mola mola.
How Do I Get To Punta Vicente Roca?
First stop on your Galapagos adventure will be the capital, Quito, into the Mariscal Sucre International Airport (UIO) or the coastal city of Guayaquil through the Jose Joaquin de Olmedo International Airport (GYE). From either entry point on the mainland, you’ll then fly out to the islands on one of the morning flights with Tame, Avianca or LAN to arrive directly into San Cristobal Island airport or the main airport on Isla Baltra, followed by an hour trip overland to get to Puerto Ayora on Isla Santa Cruz. Then it’s time to get on board your liveaboard and head out to snorkel these enchanted isles.
If your trip to the islands is combined with excursions in the Andes, you can always fly into Guayaquil, and back from the Galapagos to Quito. And smart packing is a must for this trip, as the airlines only allow 20kg (44lbs) for checked bags.