Located off of Floreana Island, the Devil's Crown is a ring of jagged rocks that jut out of the water not too far from shore. They get their name from the fact that they look roughly like a crown: they are in a circle and rather pointy when seen from a distance. The rest of the name comes from the notion that only the Devil could wear something so uncomfortable!
The Devil's Crown was once a volcanic crater, ages ago. As the earth's crust moved, the volcano became inactive, and time eroded most of it away, leaving only a few rocks. It's fortunate that these rocks are still there, as many think the Devil's Crown is the premier snorkelling spot in all of Galapagos. SCUBA divers also like to dive there, as there is a chance of seeing some spectacular marine life.
Why is it such a great place to snorkel? There are several reasons. First of all, the rocks make the site an attractive place for small fish, which form a key link in the food chain. These attract larger fish, and so on. Snorkelers can expect to see a variety of dazzling reef fish at Devil's Crown. Because it is so close to shore, it is relatively protected from winds and currents, and although the swimming is challenging, it is not as hard as it would be further out. On one side of the rocks, the water is deep and the current is swift: this is where lucky snorkelers occasionally see something spectacular, such as a Hammerhead Shark, White-tipped Reef Shark, sea turtle, or large ray such as a Manta or Spotted Eagle Ray.
Not everyone will get to swim with a shark, but you can pretty much bank on seeing schools of white-and-yellow Surgeonfish, large, colourful Parrotfish, dazzling King Angelfish and a variety of wrasses, blennies and other common Galapagos fish. Keep an eye out for a flash of brilliant yellow and black: the somewhat elusive Moorish Idol fish is often seen at Devil's Crown. On the shallow side of the rocks, look for a variety of sea stars on the bottom.
There is a colony of sea lions that have made their home in the rocks and along the nearby shore. If you're lucky, a playful one may come and swim with you for a while. Look for them on the shallow side of the rocks and inside the center of the "crown" itself. Also inside the crown, look for sea urchins and small garden eels which look at first like plants. It is forbidden for pangas to anchor inside the crown, as it is home to some delicate species of coral.
Please not that snorkelling at the Devil's Crown is not for everyone: the current can be strong and treacherous. There is really no place to stand and catch your breath if you get tired or winded: you'll have to summon the panga. If you're not a very good swimmer you may want to pass. If you have any questions about your fitness level in regards to the challenges of the Devil's Crown, ask your guide before jumping in.