Liveaboard diving around the Galapagos Islands, just thinking of it brings forth images of the strange land and sea animals, underwater documentaries about pelagic species and your basic science lesson on Darwin’s Theory of Evolution. Gain more insight into when to go, what marine life you can expect and how to get there with our Galapagos Scuba Dive Guide.
For many divers, a liveaboard trip to the Galapagos Islands is the equivalent to a runner entering the New York Marathon, a lifelong dream. The New York Marathon requires training, and you have to be qualified to enter it. Like the NY Marathon, a liveaboard trip to the Galapagos is not for everyone.
It requires training and skills that only experienced divers can safely enjoy. If you want to join de Galapagos liveaboard trip, you must feel comfortable in diving in currents, colder water, and possible rough surface conditions.
Many of the liveaboard operators in Galapagos require that you have logged at least 100 dives. If you do not meet these requirements, then it would be better if you stay at a land-based resort and enjoy the great land-based diving that Galapagos offers.
That said, Galapagos is by no means an advanced divers destination only. Novice and experienced divers or those that want to do more than dive, eat, sleep and repeat, will definitely enjoy the dive sites that surround the inner islands.
The Galapagos Islands lie about 1,0000 KM from the nearest continent
This isolation is one of the principles behind Darwin’s theory why animals here are different from anywhere else in the world. The island chain is also the point where three ocean currents come together, which brings their corresponding nutrients to the islands.
These current are:
- The Humboldt current
- Panama Current
- Cromwell Current, aka the Pacific Equatorial Undercurrent.
There are no short liveaboard dive trips available in Galapagos
Seven to ten-day liveaboard trips are the most common with some longer. Two-week combination packages with a week-long liveaboard followed by a week on land in a resort is another great option. While staying at a land-based resort, you can mix dive days with land trips exploring the nature trails.
Check out these Scuba Dive partners on Galapagos:
Only a liveaboard will enable you to dive Darwin and Wolf
You will find excellent diving everywhere in Galapagos, this could make you wonder why a liveaboard vessel will make an overnight trip covering 350 km to dive two small islands, Darwin and Wolf with only four dive sites.
Wolf Island is the southernmost of the two islands, (and only accessible from a liveaboard) therefore, it is the one you will likely dive first after your overnight trip. As you step out on deck in the morning, you will start to understand why the area is so beloved by divers. It is common to see dolphins breaching around your boat, and a glance into the water will likely reveal rays, turtles and, a playful sea lion or two.
There are three dive sites around Wolf Island, which lies within the protected marine sanctuary and, you are not allowed to go on land. The dive sites found at Wolf Island are:
- the Caves
- Shark Bay
On each of these dive sites you, are just about guaranteed to see lots of sharks, rays, dolphins, and turtles on each dive.
This dive site is named for the appearance of the slope of the site. Large boulders and rocky outcrops give the appearance of a fresh landslide. The barnacles covering the rocks tell you it is not fresh. Still, you need to be careful that you do not dislodge anything and send it rolling down the slope.
Divers gather with their group at about 10 meters depth before heading down the slope. Moray eels and reef fish are plentiful at this depth on the slope and in the water in front of you, you will likely see tuna, snappers, and turtles as they rise from the abyss.
When the current is running, it is probable you will see schools of Hammerhead sharks as well as Galapagos sharks. When the current is lax, it may be necessary to move away from the slope to view down into deeper water to see the schooling hammerheads
Dive site “The Caves” at Wolf Island consists of a series of swim-throughs and a small cave. As you exit each, you will be greeted by sharks and rays that tend to stay by the exits. The second swim-through is a favorite hang out for the Galapagos shark. You will explore a cave that is covered in soft white coral.
Leaving the cave, the dive continues to the wall, and you enter a swift current that takes you out away from the wall into schools of Wahoo, Jacks, Galapagos grunts, Peruvian grunts, and Amber striped scad that aggregate in breath-taking numbers off the wall. As if designed by a diver, the current brings you back to a shallow area where the current disperses.
Shark Bay is about diving with sharks
Diving the Galapagos Islands is mostly done with guided groups and at Shark Bay, the group gets together at the 8 to 10-meters depth along the slope. At this depth, there is some surge of the water crashing against the island, and you will likely be followed by sea lions who love to swim and play in the waves.
After “sitting” quietly for a few minutes, it is probable that a sea lion will approach you to look you over. The main attraction of this dive though is a little deeper at 25 meters. At this depth, the slope ends and looking up you will see schools of hammerhead sharks overhead. You allow the current to take you along the face of the slope and enjoy a variety of sharks and rays.