How to Visit Las Grietas (Galapagos) in 2024: Ultimate Guide

How to visit Las Grietas Galapagos blog cover image.  Text overlaying an image of the fissure taken from water level showing towering lava rock cliffs either side.

Las Grietas Galapagos is one of the most popular swimming spots in Santa Cruz. Just a short water taxi and walk from Puerto Ayora, it is famed for its unique geological formations and crystal clear waters for snorkeling.

If you are traveling to the Galapagos and have a couple of hours to spare on Santa Cruz, this is the perfect place to go for a refreshing dip and some beautiful views of the island.

In this ultimate guide to Las Grietas, you will learn everything you need to know for your first visit. This includes information and options for getting there, costs, restrictions, general tips, and more.

🀿 About Las Grietas (Galapagos): Overview

What is Las Grietas Galapagos?

Looking down at a snorkeler in the water at Las Grietas from a high viewpoint.

Las Grietas is a large fissure located near Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz island measuring about 10m (33ft) deep, 7m (23ft) wide, and 100m (330ft) long. It is among the most heralded places to snorkel in Galapagos.

The fissure is comprised of towering dark volcanic rock that runs along both sides, with crystal clear water at its base.

This impressive, dramatic landscape is the result of the volcanic activity that formed Santa Cruz and the other islands of the Galapagos archipelago. It is aptly named Las Grietas translating to “the cracks” in English.

The water in Las Grietas is brackish, meaning it is a mix of salt and fresh water. At one end, freshwater is fed by an underground river originating in the Santa Cruz highlands. The saltwater from the ocean makes its way through cracks at the other end.

The high walls of Las Grietas provide protection to this area, resulting in reliably calm water that is devoid of any current. This still water makes it perfect for a relaxing swim and for practicing your snorkeling skills!


Quick Facts & Tips for Visiting Las Grietas

The entrance to Las Grietas from where tours are now required.
A guided tour is now required to enter Las Grietas Galapagos.
  • As of 2021, a guided tour is required to visit Las Grietas!
  • Tours cost $10 (cash only) and do not need to be booked in advance.
  • A short taxi boat ($1 each way) and a 15-minute walk are required to reach Las Grietas.
  • Taxi boats are readily available at the pier in both directions.
  • Bring your own snorkel gear; no kit rentals are available at Las Grietas.
  • There are no lifeguards on duty.
  • The path is completely exposed; ensure you bring plenty of water and reef-safe sunscreen.
  • Consider hiking sandals or shoes as the trail is uneven in places with lava rock.
  • There are two restaurants and bathrooms at the entrance.


⛡️ How to Get to Las Grietas

Looking down at the water of Las Grietas from an elevated view point shows the steep orange and black volcanic walls and clear blue water below.

To get to Las Grietas from Puerto Ayora, you will need to take a short taxi boat ride across the bay (about 5 minutes) and then walk around 15 minutes further.

As this is a popular destination, you will typically find plenty of taxi boats waiting at the main pier in Puerto Ayora. Head to dock 1 or 2 and ask for “Las Grietas”.

However, if your timing happens to coincide with the arrival of the inter-island ferries you will instead need to go to the smaller pier by the Santa Cruz sign to catch a taxi boat.

The taxi boat ride over is just a few minutes long and will cost $1 each way. We recommend having the correct change for the taxi rides to make the process quick and easy.

Angermeyer Waterfront Inn seen from the water at Puerto Ayora Santa Cruz
Las Grietas drop-off point; near the Angermeyer Waterfront Inn.

The taxi boat will drop you off at the pier near the Angermeyer Waterfront Inn on the other side of the bay.

From here, the way to Las Grietas is well-signposted. Still, we have detailed the trail for those of you who prefer to know exactly where you’re going in advance.

On your return, you will walk back to the pier the same way you came in. You may wish to spend some time at Playa de los Alemanes, where you may spot sea lions playing in the surf and marine iguanas lounging on the sand.

Getting a taxi boat back to Puerto Ayora is easy and there will typically be one waiting. If there are no other people yet, however, the driver will likely wait until more arrive before heading over to the pier. Fear not – they will come and get you!

Walking directions

Concrete path at the beginning of the walk to Las Grietas.
The path to Las Grietas starts as concrete.

To walk to Las Grietas, you will begin by following the concrete path from the pier adjacent to Angermeyer Waterfront Inn. At the end of the path, make a left following the signs.

Here, the path becomes more gravelly. It will take you past some cacti before arriving at a wooden boardwalk to Playa de los Alemanes (German Beach).

The boardwalk ends at the beach and your walk will continue across the coarse sand to the far end of the beach where you’ll pick the trail up again.

The trail is sandy with some protruding rocks, so mind your step!

After less than 100m (300ft) you’ll reach a fork; keep left and continue up the steps.

This was the only turn that wasn’t clearly marked, although it is fairly obvious as the other direction says “propiedad privada” (private property).

Another minute or two of walking will bring you to the entrance. Here you will have to pay your $10 entry fee and wait for the next available tour.

🎟️ Las Grietas Tours

❗️ As of 2021, it is no longer possible to visit Las Grietas without a naturalist guide.
(guides are available onsite without prearrangement)

Guides to Las Grietas cost $10 (cash only) and are now mandatory. They depart from the entrance every hour at half past, from 7:30am to 4:30pm. 

It is not necessary to book your tour in advance; you can simply show up and pay.

The tours last for 1.5 hours and allow for approximately 50 minutes of onsite swimming. Both the staff at the entrance and the tour guides speak excellent English.

There are shaded benches to sit on while you wait for your tour to start, as well as bathrooms and two restaurants.

What to expect on a Las Grietas tour

Rocky path through cacti with unstable rocks in places on the way to Las Grietas.
Be prepared for a rocky trail with some loose lava rocks in places.

Once you start your tour, the walk from the entrance where you meet your guide to Las Grietas will take around 15 minutes.

The path is mostly flat. However, there are some loose lava rocks in some areas. It is manageable in flip-flops but you may prefer closed shoes as some of the rocks can be sharp.

Pools of pink collect on the salt flats on the way to Las Grietas.
Pink salt flats are used for mining salt.

You will start the walk by passing large, pink salt flats that are used to mine salt. Next, you will meander through a forest of giant Opuntia cacti.

Along the way, you will stop at different areas as your guide provides interesting information on the local plants and landscape. For example, palo santo trees produce a wonderful-smelling oil that is used in insect repellent!

Looking down into Las Grietas at the blue water below.
Stop to admire the views of Las Grietas from above.

Before reaching the entry point for swimming, you will get a great view looking down into Las Grietas which helps show the scale of this impressive landscape.

View of Academy Bay from La Grietas viewpoint.
View of Academy Bay.

Just beyond the steps to the water, there are also some great lookout points that offer sweeping views over Academy Bay and Franklin Bay.

Be sure to take some time to check these out before or after your swim!

People standing on a wooden platform at the bottom of the stairs before entering the water at Las Grietas.
Wooden staircase and platform provide easier access to the water.

Access to the water is now much easier than it used to be, thanks to the relatively new wooden staircase and platform that has been built.

Be aware that there are no lifeguards on duty and the water is deep. Ensure you only enter the water if you’re a strong swimmer or have a flotation device.

Sign showing Grieta 1 and Grieta 2 in different directions.

It is worth noting that although there are three sections to Las Grietas, you will only have access to one on any given tour.

For the walk-up day tours, this will be “Las Grieta 2”. For pre-booked tour groups, this will be “Las Grieta 1”.

As the area is now a protected part of the National Park, climbing over the rocks from one area to another is not permitted.

A group of people by the water at Las Grietas
Pre-booked tour group at Las Grieta 1.


🐟 What to See at Las Grietas

Looking down the fissure at Las Grietas from water level, showing the vertical cliffs either side.

Most visitors to Las Grietas go there to see the unique volcanic landscape and to swim in its calm waters. The dramatic, steep cliffs and vibrant water make for a remarkable sight.

While it is a popular place for swimming, the marine life is more limited than most expect. The brackish water is the primary reason, but the lack of life here is also due to Las Grietas being closed off from the ocean.

For better or worse, you will not have to worry about bumping into sea lions, sharks, or turtles!

A colorful pink and blue parrotfish seen at Las Grietas.
A colorful parrotfish.

Although the numbers and varieties of aquatic species are limited, the ones that you do see are very impressive!

The parrotfish here were some of the biggest I’ve seen anywhere in the world and come in an array of dazzling colors.

Additionally, you’ll find plenty of large Galapagos mullets and, if you’re lucky, may even spot eels hiding in the rocks.

A well camouflaged Santa Cruz lava lizard on the ground.
A well-camouflaged Santa Cruz lava lizard.

You will also want to keep an eye out on your walk as you can spot a variety of Galapagos birds amongst the mangroves and Opuntia, as well as small lava lizards scurrying about.


πŸ™‹πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ FAQs About Las Grietas Galapagos

Can you walk to Las Grietas?

The walk to Las Grietas is only 15 minutes, but you must first take a taxi boat from Puerto Ayora. The trail to Las Grietas begins near Angermeyer Waterfront Inn and takes you past Playa Aleman (German Beach) and cacti fields along the way.

How do I get to Las Grietas?

To get to Las Grietas from Puerto Ayora, you must take a short taxi boat across the bay, then walk 15 minutes along a well-marked trail. Taxi boats can be arranged at the main pier for $1.

Is Las Grietas free?

Visiting Las Grietas used to be free, but as of 2021 a $10 entry fee has been required. This fee is paid to an official Galapagos guide who will be at the entrance and who must accompany you.

You are no longer allowed to visit Las Grietas without a guide.

How deep is Las Grietas?

The water at Las Grietas varies in depth from around 5m (16ft) to 10m (33ft) deep.

Do you need a guide for Las Grietas?

As of 2021, you must have a guide to visit Las Grietas. However, this does not need to be pre-booked. Visitors can arrive at the entrance and simply wait for the next guided tour.

Tours leave from the entrance every hour at half past from 7:30am to 4:30pm.

Alternatively, you can pre-arrange tours that include Las Grietas in Puerto Ayora.

Is Las Grietas worth it?

If you have a spare afternoon or morning in Santa Cruz then it is worth visiting Las Grietas. It is a unique experience to snorkel in crystal clear water between towering cliffs of volcanic rock.

However, with so many other incredible experiences to include on a Galapagos itinerary, we would not recommend making a visit here a top priority.

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Written by
Adam Marland is a professional travel blogger and landscape photographer from Oregon. After over a decade of experience as a freelance travel photographer, Adam found national acclaim when he became the National Park Foundation's β€œChief Exploration Officer” in 2021.

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