The Best Time To Visit The Galápagos Islands To Snorkel With Turtles

If you're a water lover who wants to observe the beauty of the sea up close, the Galápagos Islands are one of the best snorkeling destinations in the world. The Galápagos are a remote archipelago in the Pacific Ocean known for an incredible array of wildlife, many of which have become well-known species. One of the most amazing experiences you can have in the Galápagos is snorkeling with sea turtles. The crystal clear waters of the islands makes this one of the best places to observe these majestic creatures up close.

The Galápagos are a particularly great place for snorkelers and divers with love for these flipper-y friends since four of the five sea turtles that inhabit the Eastern Tropical Pacific region are found around the islands, according to the Charles Darwin Foundation. However, certain months are better than others for catching a glimpse of them due to water conditions and turtle activity. So, whether you're traveling solo to the Galápagos or headed out on a cruise ship to the Galápagos, make sure you plan ahead.

Sea turtles you can expect to find in the Galápagos Islands

First, you need to know what types of sea turtles you can expect to see in the Galápagos Islands and learn a little bit about what they're up to throughout the year. According to SEE Turtles, the sea turtle that makes its home in the Galápagos and is most commonly spotted throughout the year is the green sea turtle. This is because the green sea turtle also lays its eggs on the beaches, allowing visitors to witness nesting and hatching. According to the World Wildlife Fund, the green sea turtle is considered endangered, so it's incredibly special to have this amazing experience.

The Charles Darwin Foundation writes there are three other turtles you might also see around the Galápagos. These include the leatherbacks, the lesser-known olive ridley sea turtles, and also the instantly recognizable hawksbills. These species of sea turtles do not nest in the Galápagos but they are seen around in the waters.

The best time of year to snorkel with sea turtles

According to Happy Gringo, there is no "bad" time of year to go snorkeling with sea turtles, as they pretty much hang around the waters of the Galápagos Islands all year. However, if you're looking for the best time when you would be most comfortable in the ocean waters and get to see the most turtle activity, plan to arrive between December and May. During these months, the waters are warm and calm, making it a more comfortable experience for snorkelers, according to Geoex. This increases the likelihood you'll see turtles as you spend more time in the water. You also have a better chance of seeing green sea turtles during this time since this is right in the middle of their mating, nesting, and hatching seasons.

The Happy Gringo writes that from December to March is the nesting season for green sea turtles. Catch sight of the mama turtles as they head for shore to lay their eggs. If you hang out on shore from April to May, this is when you'll see all their hard work come to fruition as the baby sea turtles break out of their shells and make a beeline for the ocean waters.

Best islands for snorkeling in the Galápagos Islands

If you're looking for the best places to go snorkeling with sea turtles, the islands of Santa Cruz and Floreana are the top spots to go, according to Happy Gringo. This is because these are the two main beaches where the green sea turtles make their nests in the Galápagos Islands. While you won't see any turtles nesting or hatching on the beach during the day (as to avoid predators), you may see them hanging out in the waters. For Floreana Island, Galápagos Insiders writes that Devil's Crown, an underwater volcanic crater, is a great place to not only see sea turtles but many other forms of marine life as well.

If you don't plan to go to these islands, don't worry, since you can pretty much spot them anywhere among the archipelago. Galápagos Insiders share that Gardner Bay on Española Island and Tagus Cove at Isabela Island are two other excellent locations for spotting sea turtles, manta rays, sea lions, and more. Regardless, no matter when you decide to visit, a trip to the Galápagos promises an amazing underwater adventure that will stay with you forever.