Rocky. walls and clear emerald water at Las Grietas, Santa Cruz

Snorkeling in Las Grietas, Galapagos: Why it’s worth a visit

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If you are looking to do some snorkeling in the Galapagos (and you should!), there are limitless options.  Probably the most unique happens to be just a short distance from Puerto Ayora in Santa Cruz and can easily be done independently.

Las Grietas, Galapagos is so close to town that it only takes a few hours to visit so can easily be combined with other activities the same day.


Want more Galapagos Islands travel planning tips?  Get our monster Galapagos travel guide to kick off your planning and our Essential Packing Guide to plan what to bring.  For more detailed information on each island, check out these posts below:



Las Grietas, Santa Cruz

Las Grietas is a fissure in lava rocks that has created a series of narrow crevices filled with crystal clear water.  One of our favourite things to do in Puerto Ayora was snorkelling in Las Grietas.

Santa Cruz is where most people begin their island adventure so it is an excellent addition to anyone’s Galapagos itinerary.

A school of fish in clear blue water at Las Grietas, Galapagos.

As far as snorkelling goes, it’s not the most exciting.  The mix of fresh and salt water means there isn’t a tonne of life below the surface.  We did see schools of rather large fish but that’s about it.

However, it was definitely the clearest water we came across and coupled with the jagged lava rocks on both sides, it really made for some interesting sights.  It was also probably the warmest water we found in the Galapagos Islands.  NOTE: don’t take this to mean it was warm, but it was the only place I went in without a wetsuit and didn’t come out blue!

Man swimming through water with bubbles leading from him up to the surface at Las Grietas, Galapagos Islands.


If you’re not one for snorkelling this would be just as great without the mask and keeping your head above the surface.  The brave even jump off some of the rocks!


How to Get to Las Grietas, Galapagos Islands

Go to the main pier in Puerto Ayora and walk to one of the jetties to the right.  From here, water taxis run constantly across the harbour for 80¢.  You will be dropped off by the Angermeyer Waterfront Inn and from there follow a clearly marked path.

I hadn’t had any luck finding out how to return from Las Grietas and had read some reports on having to call for a water taxi from a hotel to get back to town.  Asking the taxi driver (or is it captain?), we discovered that there are always water taxis waiting just offshore and will come straight to the dock when you appear and wave them over.  Couldn’t be easier!


Along the Trail

Close to the start of the trail is Playa de los Alemanes (Germans’ Beach).  This is a great spot to relax for a while on the return journey.  It also happens to be a popular marine iguana nesting area.

Kids playing at the water's edge on Playa las Alemanes in Galapagos.


The trail winds its way along lava rocks and between the endemic Opuntia cacti.  We managed just fine in flip flops but it would be a good idea to have proper closed-toe shoes as the lava rocks are sharp and uneven.

Man walking along a lava rock path surrounded by cactus trees near Las Grietas, Galapagos


You will hike past a salt mine, a place where salt is harvested from seawater.  Basically, water is trapped when the tide comes in and left to evaporate in shallow pools.  The salt left behind is collected.

Patches of white salt in a semi-dry field in the Galapagos.


When we went, a man was on the trail with snorkelling gear for rent.  He appeared to only have two sets so I wouldn’t take the chance he will be there.  Rent equipment from in town if you don’t have your own.

There is a short hiking trail near Las Grietas that takes you through cactus fields to a lookout point with a great view across the bay.  It is worth the short detour.

Looking across green plants to turquoise water and a peninsula at Las Grietas, Galapagos.



Snorkelling in Las Grietas, Galapagos

As you reach Las Grietas there is a platform to view it from above.  This is well worth the extra few steps as it gives a great perspective of the fact that this waterhole is just a giant crack between massive walls of lava rock!

Looking down into a long narrow crack in the rock to see someone swimming in clear water. Las Grietas, Galapagos.
The view of Las Grietas from above


We were a bit disappointed by just how busy it was when we arrived.  Due to a cold, rainy morning, we had abandoned our plan to arrive first thing before the crowds.

The deck platform to enter the water was full of people milling around, getting in and coming out smiling and shivering.  However, once you get in and swim a little further away from the entrance it really doesn’t seem crowded.


What can you expect to see at Las Grietas?

There are a series of three pools and based on previous reviews I had read, I was excited to get beyond the first and explore.  To be honest, however, the first was really the best.

Jagged lava rock walls and clear water of Las Grietas, Galapagos Islands.


In the second and third pool, the fish definitely got larger and more plentiful.  They also got closer as the water was shallower.  For some, this is a positive but personally, I was happier in the first pool.  Something about fish around my feet just freaks me out!!


Is it worth visiting Las Grietas?

If you have a really tight schedule in Puerto Ayora then perhaps this one might not make the top of your list.  However, it only takes a couple of hours for the entire trip and it is definitely worth the time to visit!

While there isn’t a ton of life in Las Grietas, the water is so clear and blue that looking at the rock formations, the fish and even each other underwater is still a really cool experience.  Learn more about snorkelling in the Galapagos here.

Crowd of people on the dock waiting to get into a narrow channel of water with steep lava rock cliffs on both sides in the Galapagos
There were many people at the entrance to Las Grietas but few in the water.


At just $1.60 total for the round trip water taxi, it is also one of the cheapest things to do in Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz.

Have you been to Las Grietas?  How did you find it?  Comment below!


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Man snorkelling with text: Snorkelling at Las Grietas, Galapagos.


People swimming in a narrow crack between rock cliffs with text: Las Grietas, Galapagos.


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  1. Thanks so much for your wonderful tips on the trip you took to Las Grietas. We will definitely add it to our travel plans as we have 3 weeks to enjoy around the Galapagos Is.

    1. Three weeks is amazing! Let me know if you have any questions and be sure to tell us how it was after you return. Are you visiting anywhere in mainland Ecuador too?

      1. Hi Claire
        We are keeping our fingers crossed that we are fortunate enough to pick up a last minute cruise. At this stage we have no plans to go to mainland Ecuador. Will definitely let you know how it all goes. Happy travelling!

        1. Excellent! You’ll have no problems getting a last-minute cruise, there are always some advertised throughout town. It’s just a matter of there being one with an itinerary and comfort level you’re happy with.

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