Snorkeling in Concha Perla, Isabela Island, Galapagos

Snorkelling at Concha Perla, Galapagos

The largest island in the Galápagos archipelago, Isabela, has Concha de Perla (Pearl Shell), which is close to Puerto Villamil. It is a natural pool in a mangrove forest that you can explore without a guide because it is one of the few snorkeling locations outside of a National Park. You may swim comfortably with sea lions, penguins, sea turtles, iguanas, and many other marine animals in the protected lagoon.

How to Get to Concha Perla?

On the way to Concha Perla

Make your way to the boat port from Puerto Villamil. Take the small boardwalk on the left (facing the pier) just before the boat pier and proceed about three minutes to the lagoon. You may either walk 20 minutes from town to the pier, where the boardwalk to the lagoon begins, or take a cab from Puerto Villamil to the pier for about $2 per person (5-minute trip).

Wildlife in Concha Perla

Concha Perla Bay is one of the greatest sites on Isabela Island to experience the awe-inspiring diversity of the Galapagos’ fauna and natural sceneries. Here are some of the animal highlights you could encounter at Concha Perla:

Galápagos Sea Lions

Everywhere you go around the islands, you’ll see Galápagos Sea Lions, and you’ll never be far from a pack of them happily sunbathing in the sun. Although they are recognized as a subspecies of the California Sea Lion, some experts contend that they are a distinct species.

Galápagos Marine Iguana

Galapagos Marine Iguanas at Concha Perla

The Galápagos Marine Iguana, the only seafaring lizard in the world, is found solely on the Galápagos Islands. This famous reptile has 11 subspecies, each of which has a population on a distinct island, and it is unique to Earth.

Although they are not truly sociable creatures, Galápagos Marine Iguanas are very tolerant of one another and will frequently huddle together for warmth on chilly evenings. They can be observed soaking up the early sun before their first swim of the day because they are quite active during the day.

Brown Pelican

Brown pelicans at Concha Perla Galapagos

This bird can be found all over the Galápagos Islands and as far away as the American shore. It is frequently observed from ships and ports, especially the Fisherman’s Dock in Santa Cruz. Before returning to their nests in the mangrove lagoons, the Brown Pelican can be observed diving gracefully into the water for food and gracefully gliding over the water’s surface

Galapagos Mockingbird

Even though Darwin’s Finches are the more well-known birds that had an influence on Charles Darwin’s early ideas on natural selection, it was his study of the mockingbirds on the archipelago that had the biggest impact on his work. Although there are four different mockingbird species on the islands, most visitors see the Galápagos Mockingbird because it is the most common.

Galápagos Mockingbirds are noted for their curiosity; rather than taking off, they frequently approach to observe you.

Darwin’s Finches

The subtle differences between the species of Galápagos Finches, which are well-known to schoolchildren around the world studying evolution, famously assisted Darwin in developing his theory of natural selection. There are 17 species of what are frequently called Darwin’s Finches on the archipelago, with sizes ranging from 4 to 8 in (10cm to 20cm).

Best Time to Visit Concha Perla

The wet and warmer season from December to May is the ideal time to visit Concha Perla if you want to go snorkeling and enjoy clear skies, and calm waters. Between June and November is the drier and colder diving season. Sharks and whales are drawn to the nutrient-rich sea that the cooler Humboldt current creates.

Snorkeling at Concha Perla

The walkway to Concha Perla begins right next to one of the dockside food cabanas. There are sea lions everywhere as we travel down the boardwalk. Some are sleeping in the shade of adjacent mangroves, while others are napping directly on the boardwalk.

I was shocked to see the sea lions on the promenade given how popular Concha Perla is with snorkelers and tour groups. They appear blissfully unaware of our presence for the most part, though we do startle a few.

Sealions on the way to Concha Perla Galapagos

As we approached the lagoon, we crossed a wooden bridge through a mangrove forest while keeping an eye out for iguanas and other land creatures. We arrived at the shallow bay ideal for swimming and snorkeling. 

Snorkelling with turtle

The waters here are especially calm thanks to a big rock structure in front of the lagoon, making this an excellent place for kids and snorkeling beginners. Because of the clear water, it was easy for us to see marine life, which included sea lions, sharks, several fish species, turtles, and more.

Bottom Line

Concha Perla is one of the best locations on Isabela Island Galapagos to take in the breathtaking variety of the Galapagos species and natural scenery. You can enjoy strolling along a wooden walkway through the mangroves and a  shallow crystal-clear waters lagoon that will give you the unforgettable opportunity to observe the marine life of the Galapagos. 

If you are filling in your Galapagos travel plan, don’t forget to list Concha Perla as one of the things to do when you have free time in the Galapagos.

About the author

Oleg Galeev

I'm Oleg, and together with my wife, we've explored Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands, journeying through more than 20 cities (Quito, Cuenca, Banos, Tena, Puyo, Guayaquil, Riobamba, Otavalo, Mindo and more) and nearly every island in the Galapagos (including iconic ones such as Bartolome Island, San Cristobal Island, Isabela Island, Santa Cruz Island and more). In this blog, I give you my real thoughts about each place we visited. This info can help anyone planning a trip to the Galapagos Islands or mainland Ecuador. I'm just a traveler, not a tour company, so I'm not trying to sell anything. That means I'll tell you the truth—both the good and the bad — about traveling in Ecuador based on what we experienced.

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