Galapagos is a naturalist’s paradise, expect to see pretty much anything from penguins and diving iguanas to hammerheads and whale sharks.
The Galapagos Islands can be found over 600 miles (1000 km) to the west of the coast of Ecuador. The island of Isabella is a short hour and a half flight from the coastal city of Guayaquil but despite this easy access, Galapagos has a real feel of being remote and wild. Most of the very best dive spots on Galapagos such as Darwin and Wolf islands are only accessible by a week-long diving cruise. Liveaboard dive boats in Galapagos depart from Baltra Island.
The Galapagos Sky and Galapagos Aggressor are custom designed diving boats and the crews pride themselves on their high end service even bringing you hot drinks and fresh towels after every dive. If you are looking for a more intimate liveaboard diving experience, the Nortada dive cruise is perfect. It only takes 8 passengers and has specialised blending equipment for technical divers. The Galapagos Master is one of the most modern dive cruises, refitted in 2014 and prides itself on being one of the most eco-friendly boats in the islands.
Diving in Galapagos is dominated by the marine life that you can find in these waters, it is one of those places where you can see pretty much anything. There are many unique animals that have evolved to survive on the islands like diving iguanas, Galapagos penguins, sea lions and Galapagos sharks. Not only that but the cool Humboldt current brings the bigger animals too, schooling hammerheads can be seen in their hundreds as well as whale sharks, tiger sharks and silkies. Mantas and huge shoals on mobula rays are also common and if you are lucky even dolphins and orcas, here to feed on mola molas.
There are some reefs in Galapagos but they are mostly volcanic and the temperature change from summer to winter means that there are not many corals. The channels around the islands have heavy currents and work like pelagic highways so divers can just sit on the edge and watch the procession. The conditions in Galapagos can be fairly rough and the current can run quite strong. Some experience of diving in current is a must and most liveaboards require divers to have 50 or more dives logged.
BEST TIME TO GO
January to December
The diving season in Galapagos is year round.
There are two distinct seasons depending on what you want to see though. The warm season from December to May is the best for schooling hammerheads and other sharks like silkies. The conditions are also better with less waves and milder currents and the visibility is much better too.
During the cold season in July to December, temperatures drop to 16-18°C/60-65°F. This is whale shark season, when nutrient rich currents bring these giants to the islands. Darwin and Wolf are particularly good spots for spotting whale sharks travelling on the currents. This cooler period is a great time to see penguins and mola mola too.
Flights from the airport of Quito via Guayaquil are frequent to Baltra island. Be sure to remember it is forbidden to take any biological material to Galapagos. There will also be a $100 national park fee to pay on arrival. Most liveaboards will pick you up in buses from the airport and transfer you across the canal to meet the boats which takes around an hour in total.