The dive sites of the Galapagos Islands offer some of the world's most spectacular large fish varieties. Galapagos is a paradise for wildlife fans. The impressive underwater lava formations of the islands create a bizarre landscape with unique vegetation. Some of the biggest attractions include huge schools of scalloped hammerhead sharks, countless Galapagos sharks, fur sea lions and sea turtles. The waters are not short of large schools of tuna, jacks and snappers. You may even see penguins diving with marine iguanas, which is unique for diving in the Galapagos.
Galapagos dive expeditions are only suitable for experienced divers. The currents are strong the water is cold. Although located on the Equator, the cold Humboldt Current brings cold water to the islands. The weather is periodically influenced by the El Niño phenomenon which brings warmer temperatures and heavy rains. The visibility can be anywhere between 3 and 30 meters (10-100 ft.). Often the Northern Islands tend to have better visibility, than the Southern Islands.
The waters surrounding the Galapagos Islands are quite cool. From December to May: 21°-27°C (70°-80°F) and from June to November 15°-23°C (60°-75°F). It is advisable if you bring at least a 5mm - 7mm wetsuit (semidry) with hood, boots and gloves. If you have, bring a dry suit!
Highlights of Galapagos excursions include the far north of Wolf and Darwin Islands. Here you may see hammerhead sharks, Galapagos sharks, manta rays, eagle rays, green turtles and hawksbill turtles. Attractions for sure are the fur seals, jacks, scorpion fish and dolphins. With some luck you may even see a whale shark around Darwin Islands. Expect strong currents, about 1 to 3 knots!
Around Santiago Island and Santa Cruz Island you can have encounters with eagle rays, sea lions, green turtles and whitetip sharks. Close to Santiago Island Seahorses and frog fish are spotted often.
Important to know
No night diving due to extreme conditions and strong currents on most dive sites. This is a regulation from the Galapagos National Park Santa Cruz has a decompression chamber, and so does Guayaquil on the main land Ecuador.
All diving is coordinated by a local diving guide. The dive guide is licensed by the Galapagos National Park Service and the naval authorities to lead dives.
A liveaboard cruise offers the best opportunity to get to know this fascinating group of islands below water. It is only possible on extended excursions to dive around the northern Darwin and Wolf Islands. These islands are the best place for hammerhead sightings. This region is mostly for experienced divers. Liveaboards offer normally 3 to 4 dives a day. Land visits are not allowed on Darwin and Wolf islands. It takes about 20 hours to get to Darwin and Wolf and the distance to the next nearest island is more than 160km (100mi).