swimming with wildlife - sea lions

Top 5 Underwater Encounters In The Galapagos Islands

8 months ago Galapagos

A realm where the line between dream and reality blurs, the Galapagos Islands are a natural paradise brimming with fascinating wildlife. One of the most enchanting experiences these islands offer is the chance to swim alongside a remarkable array of marine animals. 


Imagine sharing the crystalline waters with penguins, sea lions and even gentle whale sharks – an aquatic experience unlike any other. What’s more, the Galapagos Islands remain one of the few places on Earth where you can share these moments of wonder without the typical tourist crowds. 


Take this journey with Aqua Mare and dive into the mesmerizing underwater wonderland surrounding the Galapagos archipelago. 


Galapagos Penguins

swimming with wildlife - galapagos penguin


Not commonly known but, yes, penguins do exist near the equator. Unlike their Antarctic cousins, these pint-sized swimmers thrive in the tropical Galapagos waters. It’s believed that the Galapagos penguins may have been carried over by a storm or strong currents from the Southern Chile islands. They’ve adapted to survive in this warmer climate by losing fat and becoming smaller in size.


While they don’t have a specific mating season, the highest chance of encountering them nesting is between May to January, when the cool Humboldt Current passes through the archipelago. Fernandina and Isabela Islands see a higher population of these monochromatic birds, though they can still be spotted on Sombrero Chino Island and in the snorkeling sites of Bartolome Island.


Look forward to witnessing their playful antics year-round on daily dives aboard Aqua Mare. It’s an absolute treat to revel in their effortless darts in the water with unmatched agility, chasing schools of fish beneath the surface. 


Green Sea Turtles

swimming with wildlife - green sea turtle


Best known for their characterisation as Crush, a surfer dude turtle in Finding Nemo, the Green Sea Turtle is no stranger to the limelight. This iconic turtle has few sanctuaries around the world, including the Galapagos Islands. In fact, they’re the Galapagos’ only species of nesting sea turtles, which makes swimming alongside these ancient mariners a special experience. 


The prime turtle-spotting months are from December to April. During these months, female turtles come ashore to lay their eggs, and lucky observers might catch a glimpse of this incredible event. Fun fact: the sex of hatchlings is dependent on its incubation temperature with warmer nests resulting in more females. 


Besides nesting season which commonly happens on Isabela Island, there’s also a hatching period between February to May for those just looking to dip their toes in the cooling waters. Visitors looking to get up close and personal with our shelled friends can look forward to snorkeling and diving with them year-round.


Marine Iguanas

swimming with wildlife - marine iguanas


Evolution has taken a unique twist in the Galapagos, and the endemic marine iguanas are a testament to this fact. These remarkable reptiles are the only lizards on Earth that forage underwater for sustenance with their main diet being algae.


Despite looking like Godzilla in miniature, marine iguanas are generally docile and non-aggressive. Having few natural predators and being cold-blooded by nature, they’re sluggish and only ward off predation by bluffing aggression.


swimming with wildlife - marine iguana


You can swim with them year-round, but they are more active during the warmer months of December to May. With their unique black and red coloration, watching marine iguanas dive into the water and feed on algae-covered rocks is like witnessing a primordial dance of life.


Whale Sharks

swimming with wildlife - whale shark


The world’s largest fish, the gentle whale shark, graces the Galapagos waters from June to November. These filter-feeding giants embark on their migratory journey during these months, and you can be a part of their incredible odyssey. Swimming alongside a whale shark is a humbling experience – their sheer size and grace remind us of the marvels that inhabit the deep blue.


Interestingly, 90% of whale sharks spotted in the Galapagos region appear to be pregnant females. They’re mostly seen near the islands of Wolf and Darwin although sightings are never guaranteed. Those interested in swimming with these massive wonders can also have a look at Aqua Blu’s expedition in Bali and Komodo National Park.


Sea Lions

swimming with wildlife in galapagos - sea lions


Imagine twirling through crystalline blue waters with absolute grace and playfulness – such is the daily life of Galapagos sea lions. With smooth and streamlined bodies, these sea lions also make efficient hunters, often diving for over 10 minutes up to 600 meters for sardines.


These charismatic creatures are social swimmers that can be encountered year-round throughout the archipelago, though their playful antics are often more pronounced from July to December during the breeding season. You might find yourself surrounded by a group of curious pups, their large eyes seemingly filled with wonder.


The Galapagos Islands is an aquatic eden offering an otherworldly connection to nature’s diversity. Aboard Aqua Mare, you’ll be able to savor these magical moments without the bustling crowds. Contact our Expedition Consultants to dive into the enchanting watery depths of the Galapagos Islands.