Playing With Sea Lions on San Isabella in the Galapagos

Written By: The Planet D

One thing you are sure to see when traveling to the Galapagos Islands are Sea Lions. They are everywhere. They sleep on park benches, they lay in the shade under trees and they waddle through the streets. Really, they own the joint!

We arrived on San Cristobal from Quito and were amazed to see so many Sea Lions just hanging out downtown on the main drag. They huddled in groups and paid very little attention to us as we snapped photos frantically of this once in a lifetime opportunity…or as we found out during our 10 day tour…a several time in a lifetime opportunity.

Sea Lions Playing in the Galagos

Sea Lions have the cutest faces and you just want to run up to them and cuddle up.

Don’t Approach a Sea Lion

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Just Look At That Face

There are strict rules in the Galapagos to stay at least 3 meters away from sea lions.

I know that you want to get that perfect photograph, but remember, as cute as they are, they are wild animals and if you get too close you cause them to become distressed and they will reach out and nip at you.

Swimming With Sea Lions…The Video

Our guide Sambo told us to dive and spin in the water to inspire the sea lions to play with us.

We were told not to reach out and touch them, but we were allowed to let them approach us to have a closer look.

They nipped at our cameras and came as close as they could without actually touching.

It was a moment to remember and instead of gushing and writing way too many adjectives to describe the moment, we’d like to share some underwater footage of our time playing with Sea Lions in the Galapagos.

They are skilled hunters and have sharp teeth, so you don’t want to put that theory to the test.

We had to opportunity to interact with sea lions on several occasions while in the Galapagos Islands. Not only were they hanging out on the main street of San Cristobal, they relaxed on the beach and swam in the water.

We had them follow us during our kayaking adventure when we paddled in San Isabella’s harbour and most of all, we got to play with them while snorkelling in this pristine paradise.

sea lions galapagos-1

However, the funniest moment came when we were strolling on Santa Cruz and the fishermen had just come in to sell their catch.

These sea lions know them well and tried their hardest to get their fish.

Clearly the fishermen weren’t sticking to the rules of staying 3 meters away. Something tells me, these sea lions come in every day.

He was kind enough to give them some fish. I dont’ think I’d be able to resist either. They are so cute!

Swimming with Sea Lions

We also had the chance to swim with sea lions.

We weren’t expecting it, but during one of our snorkeling excursions, a group came over to say hello! I cannot describe what a joyous feeling it is to have a group of sea lions approach you by their own free will.

We had only been in the water for a few minutes when some curious cuties floated up to us to see what was going on.

Read more Galapagos at Wanna Know What It’s like on an Active Galapagos Tour? or Marine Iguanas Feeding Underwater

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About The Planet D

Dave Bouskill and Debra Corbeil are the owners and founders of The Planet D. After traveling to 115 countries, on all 7 continents over the past 13 years they have become one of the foremost experts in travel. Being recognized as top travel bloggers and influencers by the likes of Forbes Magazine, the Society of American Travel Writers and USA Today has allowed them to become leaders in their field.

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22 thoughts on “Playing With Sea Lions on San Isabella in the Galapagos”


  2. Swimming with the sea lions was the highlight of our Galapagos trip! They are the cutest animals, and curious to boot! The definitely live up to their reputations as the Golden Retrievers of the Galapagos.

  3. I can’t wait for my trip. Do you have to know how to dive down to get such a great view? Will I still get a great site if I just stay at the top of the water?

    • Hi Pamela, we got this from snorkeling. Diving down is easy. Just take a deep breath and the. Be sure to blow out the snorkel when you come back up. You can always ask your guide to show you how, they’re very experienced. However, you can get a great view on the surface. The sea lions come to you!

  4. So cute! These pics are fantastic! It should be so funny to walk in a street or in a park looking for a bench and found it busy by a sea-lion! Amazing!

  5. Love these photos… If you find the time, maybe you can start a second blog dedicated solely to seals/sea lions. I know I’d be a faithful reader — I’m obsessed ๐Ÿ™‚

    • That’s a great idea. We’ve been thinking of starting a few more. Maybe we can dedicate one to Sea Lions:)

    • I. Know eh? They totally act like little children. Not a c are in the world and they are filled with personality and cuteness.

  6. That first picture of the sea lion on the bench could be the greatest animal pic I have ever seen. It is always such a strange feeling to be so surrounded by wild animals… even if they are as adorable as these sea lions. Amazing!