Concha de Perla, or Pearl Shell, is a natural rock formation on Isabela Island in the Galapagos, shaped and influenced by the changing tides of the sea.
The rich marine biodiversity and unique ecosystem make Isabela Island a prime destination for those seeking unforgettable encounters with diverse and remarkable wildlife.
The best part? It’s free. Why miss out when nature’s wonders await without a price tag? Snorkelling in Concha de Perla should not be missed!
Steps down to Concha de Perla Lagoon
Snorkelling in Concha de Perla: need to know
Where is Concha de Perla?
Concha de Perla is located by the boat pier on Isabela Island Galapagos. If you are coming from Puerto Villami, the opening is on the left past the snack bar hut.
How do I get to Concha de Perla?
From Puerto Villamil, visitors can walk (15-20 mins) to Concha de Perla or take a taxi if the weather is too hot. If you are arriving by bicycle, there is a place to store your bike as they are not permitted on the walkway.
Once you reach the entrance, take a short walk along the wooden boardwalk through the mangrove vegetation leading to the secluded Concha de Perla lagoon.
Sea lions often rest on the boardwalk at Concha de Perla to take advantage of the shade.
As I attempted to leave Concha de Perla, sea lions were completely blocking the way and were getting a little agitated as they had a younger pup with them. As it was low tide, climbed over the fence and walked around the blockade.
Don’t be surprised to find sealions and marine iguanas hanging out on the decking with you arrive.
Sealion and Marine Iguana resting together
When is the Best time to visit Concha de Perla?
The best time of year to visit Concha de Perla is from December to May, offering ideal conditions for snorkeling with warm weather and more tranquil waters. From June to November, the temperatures can be a little colder but still a pleasure to go snorkeling in Concha de Perla all year round.
The best time of day to visit Concha de Perla is at low tide when the visibility is better. Check the tide times to be on the safe side.
Opening times of Concha de Perla are 6 am – 6 pm.
What you need to take to Concha de Perla
Here is a handy list of what you will need for snorkelling in Concha de Perla, starting with the obvious!
Snorkel and face mask – Bring your own or rent from tour agencies and dive shops in town.
GoPro – A must if you want to capture the incredible marine life.
Sunscreen – A high factor is best to protect yourself against the equatorial sun, and reef-safe sunscreen to protect the habitat of the animals.
As always, remember to leave no trace. Do a final check and ensure you have packed everything before you leave the site.
Tips for snorkelling in Concha de Perla
Snorkeling at Concha de Perla is an incredible experience, but there are a few tips to be aware of.
Don’t touch the animals. Keep your distance and let wildlife do their thing. Humans can seem threatening especially in breeding seasons.
Don’t touch coral. Walking or standing on the coral will harm the balance of the marine ecosystem. And can give you a nasty cut at the same time!
Don’t go beyond the rope. At Concha de Perla, a rope restricts snorkelers from venturing toward the Los Tintoreras site, aiding in the regeneration of the damaged reef. Access is solely permitted with an official guide from the National Park, via boat.
Don’t enter the water at high tide. On one of my visits at higher tide, the water was very choppy and it was hard to swim against the strong current. Seeing a marine iguana holding onto the boardwalk should have been a sign not to enter the water. Marine Iguanas are equipped with large hooked claws, humans are not.
Marine Iguana on the boardwalk at high tide
Wildlife in Concha de Perla
Concha de Perla, nestled in Isabela Island, is a fabulous spot for wildlife enthusiasts. Perfect for leisure during an extended stay, its allure lies in the unpredictability of sightings—penguins, sea turtles, marine iguanas, sea lions, mockingbirds, reef sharks and more.
With a few visits to Concha de Perla, I ticked off a few wildlife experiences on my animal bucket list.
Swimming with a marine iguana
Marine iguanas are everywhere you look on Isabela Island as they spend most of their time basking in the sun. I’d had a sighting of a marine iguana from afar in the water, so to see one swim past my snorkel mask was a dream.
Evolved from land iguanas, their aquatic adaptability shines. Flattened tails and webbed feet aid swimming. Marine iguanas do not have gills but they can hold their breath for a long time when they need to dive down to feed on seagrass and algae. When swimming they need to breathe air, so they stick out of the water (just like us).
|| Fun Fact
The Galapagos Marine Iguana is silent, relying on the alarm call of the Galapagos Mockingbird. Both creatures are targeted by the Galapagos hawk, so the iguanas heed the mockingbird’s warning to evade predation.
Marine Iguana swimming at Concha de Perla
Swimming with a Sealion
Swimming with a sealion was high on my wildlife bucket list experiences for the Galapagos. This beautiful creature torpedoed past spinning with its streamlined body, then flipped acrobatically to come back whilst using fore flippers to get the high speed. No wonder they call sea lions “ballerinas of the sea”!
Sealion swimming in Concha de Perla
Watching sea turtles
Sea turtles are a common occurrence in Concha de Perla, each one is as special as the last. Watching the Galapagos green turtles slowly feed on the sea bed and glide up to the surface for air was an honour.
Sea Turtle in Concha de Perla
Watching the Tropical Fish
Many species of tropical fish call Concha de Perla home. As the lagoon is enclosed by a reef, the most common species found in Concha de Perla thrive off this environment.
The black and yellow damselfish, Galapagos Gregory (Stegastes arcifrons), can be seen aggressively chasing other fish away that dare to cross into their territory. They have no qualms in attacking your toes as a message to back off.
The Blurred Parrotfish (Scarus Ghobban) are commonly foraging for food amid sediment clouds. Their fused teeth are ideal for extracting filamentous algae from dead coral. As it relies on coral reefs for sustenance, they are vulnerable to ongoing reef degradation.
The Sergeant Major Damselfish (Abudefduf saxatilis) is so-called due to its five dark stripes amongst the yellow-silvery grey sides. They often feed in large schools, swimming over shallow reefs. At the far end of Concha de Perla, groups can be seen nibbling on the algae collected on the ropes that prohibit snorkellers from going any further.
PIN FOR SNORKELLING IN CONCHA DE PERLA ISABELA GALAPAGOS