Hidden Pools & Underwater Tunnel of Las Grietas

Places to See, Santa Cruz Island, Things to Do, Videos

On a recent Galapagos tour I explored Las Grietas. I discovered that there is more to see than what meets the eye!

Secret Swimming Hole

There is a hidden swimming hole nestled between two cliffs, where saltwater from the ocean mixes with rainwater to form a stunning turquoise pool. The turquoise-green water set against the volcanic rocks makes a surreal contrast.

The locals dive off cliffs with no fear of crashing into the rocks below. Families chill on the rocks. Others swim or snorkel in the pool. Tourist groups don’t really go there, and no naturalist guide is needed – you can go on your own.

An Underwater Tunnel, and an Extra-Secret Swimming Hole

But the coolest part is that half of Las Grietas is doubly-hidden.

Summon the courage to traverse a set of slippery rocks, dive down, and swim through an underwater tunnel and you will be rewarded with a second less crowded oasis.

OK, so technically you could scramble over the rocks instead of through the underwater tunnel, but what fun would that be?

I inhaled sharply and dove down, kicking fiercely to submerge while the air in my lungs kept me afloat. Fail!

Backing up I tried again, kicking and grabbing the walls with my hands to push myself through, while trying to record the passage for the blog!

The reward? The locals cheered, but the best reward was that there were about 12-15 people in the first pool of Las Grietas, and only 4 including me in the second.

Even my parents stayed in the main area and didn’t go to the super-secret pool. They had slipped and scraped themselves a little on the rocks getting in and while they declined following me to the second super secret pool, they were proud to have some “adventure souvenirs.”

Ahhhhh….Floating in the super-secret pool in Las Grietas, Santa Cruz

Video footage of underwater tunnel

This is a little shaky, but hey, you try swimming through a tunnel and recording a video.


  • Wear Tevas or underwater shoes. They will help you grip the rocks when you are getting in or out.
  • If you are really paranoid about scraping your knees or balance-challenged, wear a wetsuit. You will look like a total nerd next to the bare-chested local boys jumping off the cliffs, but hey who cares?
  • Bring goggles or a snorkel if you want to swim the tunnel (or you could do it blind for extra bonus adventure points).
  • Wear sturdy tennis shoes or hiking shoes to walk there. The volcanic rocks are slippery and uneven.
  • From Puerto Ayora, take a water taxi to the other side, then follow the signs (45 min walking) to Las Grietas). For more about how to get there, see Getting to Las Grietas
  • Be very careful if it starts to rain – the rocks along the trail get slippery at the first sign of drizzle.

Las Grietas is such a cool spot! Have you been there? Please tell us what you thought by commenting on this post.

Meet the Author

Lisa Cho is an expat living in Ecuador, originally from San Francisco, California. She writes about the Galapagos Islands on this site and about her mainland Ecuador adventures on CuencaCultureShock.com

2 comments… add one
  • Tomas Oct 20, 2013, 10:11 pm

    Going in January. Can’t wait to check out Las Grietas. Thanks for the tips!

    • Lisa at Red Mangrove Oct 21, 2013, 12:13 pm

      Cool! January is supposed to be a great time to go!

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