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Diving in the Galapagos Islands is a truly unique experience. The islands are home to a staggering array of marine life, which are found nowhere else.

Diving in The Galapagos

Quick facts

Paired with the splendid array of marine life, the excellent visibility makes diving here exceptional. There are dives on many of the islands, though several islands stand out as particularly excellent places to take the plunge.

Darwin Island is by far the most popular. Here you will see most of the unique creatures you are craving, as well as some whimsical geologic formations. El Arco is renowned as one of the best dives in the world, so be sure to add it to your to do list.

On Isabela Island you can swim with sea lions and penguins in a stunning environment. Don’t miss Roca Redonda, where sharks teem around an underwater volcano.

Santa Cruz Island boasts an astounding flamingo lagoon and mangrove forest, as well as the Charles Darwin Research Station. Take a quick boat ride to make your way to the best dives that Santa Cruz has to offer. Academy Bay is a particularly notable dive, where calm waters make an ideal home for wildlife.

Recommended training

Due to sometimes challenging dive conditions, it’s advisable to be at least a PADI Advanced Open Water Diver. Taking the PADI Drift Diver course is highly recommended. The AWARE – Fish Identification course will help you understand the variety of fish you’ll encounter and the PADI Digital Underwater Photographer course will allow you to capture lasting memories of what you see.

When to go

In this highly variable climate, the hot and rainy season is from December to June, with high humidity and average temperatures of 26-30°C/79-86°F. From June to November, expect cool winds and an occasional light misty drizzle. Temperatures average 20-24°C/68-75°F during the day and are lower at night. Diving is possible all year. Temperatures range from 20-28°C/71-85°F depending upon site and island, and whether or not currents bring in cooler water. Although 30 metre/100 foot visibility is not unheard of, it’s usually 10-20 metres/30-70 feet. Visibility depends to a great extent on the season and amount of plankton in the water.

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USD 5,495Per trip
USD 4,190Per trip
USD 3,595Per trip
El Arco, Darwin Island – This site could well show up on anyone’s list of the world’s top 10 dive sites. Divers regularly encounter schooling hammerheads, whale sharks and spotted eagle rays along with prowling Galapagos and silky sharks. It’s accessible only by liveaboard and one dive strategy is to simply hold your position underwater and let the pelagic show cruise by. El Arenal, Darwin Island – Darwin’s Arch is a distinctive stone arch above the water and this dive site slopes off the arch. The site abounds with marine life. Big-eye jacks along with hammerhead, blacktip and whale sharks all frequent the area. Roca Redonda, Isabela Island – Off the north coast of Isabela, this dive site is the tip of an underwater volcano that rises from the sea floor and emerges as an island. You’ll find Galapagos sharks, schools of hammerhead sharks and barracudas. As you dive around the rocks and pinnacle, you’ll probably be accompanied by sea lions and may find sea horses in the shallows. Cape Douglas, Fernandina Island – This dive site is a great spot to watch penguins “fly” past. Done as a drift dive, you can also see fur seals and Galapagos sea lions mingling with munching marine iguanas. Pitt Point, San Cristobal Island – This dive site is an exposed rock at the most northeasterly point of the island. You’ll likely bump into schools of snapper, grunt and jacks. You may also see diving boobies while underwater. Camaño Islet, Santa Cruz Island – This is a usually calm spot outside Academy Bay that allows you to see groupers, batfish, sea horses, sea lions, and sharks. You may get lucky and spot marine iguanas as they dive beneath the waves in search of food.

What to see

The endemic wildlife here is spectacular, and are completely contained within this detached location. You can expect to see marine iguanas, fur seals, and penguins during a dive, as well as manta rays and tunas. Galapagos is one of the best places on the globe to scuba with Hammerhead sharks, who will visit the island in impressive droves.

From mangroves to lagoons to coral reefs, there are many habitats to explore, each featuring an abundance of fantastic marine life.

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Area

Found 563 mi (906 km) off the western coast of Ecuador, the Galapagos Islands are located smack dab on the Equator. There are 13 major islands and 7 islets to explore during your trip to this fantastic destination.

For eons, the Galapagos Islands were completely cut off from the rest of the world, a haven for wildlife. The creatures that have evolved on these islands are exclusive to this region, and were studied by the famous biologist and scientist Charles Darwin, one of the greatest minds mankind has ever known.

While there is no known indigenous population, there are few local residents that live on the islands, deemed a national park and biological marine reserve. Officially a part of Ecuador, the islanders are mainly Spanish speaking, and the population has blossomed since the late 1970’s.

Other attractions

The biggest draw for visitors, other than diving, are the astounding creatures to be found on land. Massive Galapagos Tortoises and Blue Footed Boobies are easily discovered and approached on the islands’ interiors.

Getting there

Flights to the Galapagos originate in Ecuador at José Joaquín de Olmedo International Airport in Guayaquil or Mariscal Sucre International Airport in Quito and continue to Isla San Cristobal or Isla Baltra (Seymour).

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Note - Travel to any destination may be adversely affected by conditions including (but not limited) to security, entry and exit requirements, health conditions, local laws and culture, natural disasters and climate. Regardless of your destination, check your local travel advisory board or department for travel advice about that location when planning your trip and again shortly before you leave.
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