I finally went on the day-tour-everyone-talks-about: The Tunnels Tour on Isabela Island, Galapagos.
See The Tunnels Tour video below. All of it was recorded with a GoPro.
The Tunnels Tour departed from Puerto Villamil, Isabela, at 6 a.m. We went by speedboat to The Tunnels (Los Túneles). The ride was about 45 minutes.
We started the tour with a fifteen-minute hike. But this tour is all about snorkelling – and marine life.
The weather had overcast, so the sun was not piercing the water as I would have liked. The visibility was still good at about 10 metres. The water was low tide and about 21º C. I personally find snorkelling in low tide much better in the Galapagos for the most part. Our guide also stated The Tunnels Tour is better during low tide and that’s why for the earlier departure.
On The Tunnels Tour I was able to see several whitetip sharks, Pacific Rim Sea Turtles, one large black stingray, an eagle ray, a few seahorses, and plenty of colorful fish.
Sometimes you can see blue-footed boobies and Galapagos Penguins up close but I didn’t on this trip. You can still see them near the Puerto Villamil port.
As the name suggested, there are tunnels that you can swim through. The blue light contrasting through the tunnels with the black lava rock is a gem to see.
After the tour we had a simple lunch of sandwiches, drinks, and Oreos, yet satisfying after the almost two-hour snorkel.
We headed back towards Puerto Villamil, and on the way, we stopped by a rock in the ocean with Nazca Boobies.
From start to finish, the tour lasted about four-and-half hours.
Reservation and Price of The Tunnels Tour
This tour tends to get filled up quickly. Many travellers stay overnight on Isabela Island primarily for The Tunnels Tour.
I walked around town and several of the tours were sold out. I was trying to purchase The Tunnels Tour at $85, but with its popularity, the starting price was $95. The price can be higher if you purchase this tour from Santa Cruz, so it may be better to book the Tunnels Tour on Isabela.
I was finally able to purchase The Tunnels Tour at $90 at Pahoe Hoe Galapagos Tours. A part of me felt I struck out at paying $5 extra, but I didn’t want to miss out.
It costs $10 extra to rent a wetsuit. I prefer to snorkel without a wetsuit because it makes diving easier, especially with a GoPro. But our guide also made a video with his GoPro which I was able to obtain for free.
The Tunnels Tour is by far the best snorkelling day tour in terms of price and what you see. Several other snorkelling day tours cost between $100 and $200. But you do have to factor in the amount of money you spend on accommodation and travelling to Isabela Island.
Some people stay only one night on Isabela: they sleep the night before on Isabela, do The Tunnels tour early next morning (there is also a late morning tour), and then catch the afternoon ferry back to Santa Cruz.
Nonetheless, the tour was worth it.