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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 and 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 Red Mangrove blog readers of course! 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.”

Las Grietas, Santa Cruz

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.
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2 Responses to The hidden pools and underwater tunnel of Las Grietas

  1. Tomas says:

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

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