Visiting the Galapagos Islands is any diver’s dream thanks to the high number of endemic species and unique underwater landscapes. The Galapagos marine reserve is one of the largest in the world, protecting over 130,000 km². Diving in the Galapagos provides no end of incredible opportunities to see some of the most wonderful underwater animals, from sea horses to whale sharks!
The Galapagos Islands have a unique ecosystem thanks to their volcanic inception and location 1000 km off the coast of South America. Some of the endemic species you can find here are the flightless cormorant, marine iguanas, and the Galapagos fur seal.
As well as these endemic species, the Galapagos Islands are renowned for their impressive numbers of sharks, whales, mola mola, turtles, manta ray, dolphins and much more.
The most famous area to dive in the Galapagos is around Wolf and Darwin Islands, the two most remote locations of the archipelago. They are well known as home to thousands of sharks and rays. These islands are only accessible on a liveaboard cruise, but there are many other sites on the central islands which are accessible by day trips. Many dive sites in the Galapagos require intermediate to advanced diving experience, as the strong currents can be tough to navigate.
El Arco, also known as Darwin’s Arch on Darwin Island is one of the top 10 dive sites in the world, famous for the schools of sharks brought in by the current, common sightings include hammerheads, silky sharks, blacktip sharks and Galapagos sharks. One can also frequently observe Manta rays, sea turtles, dolphins, eagle rays and even whale sharks.
Wolf Island is home to many world famous dive sites, including Shark Point. This site is perhaps most famous as being home to whale sharks which migrate to the area from May to November. Thanks to its remote location it is also home to large numbers of other shark species and dolphins.
If you are not planning to travel on a liveaboard, there are some stunning sites on the central islands. One such location is Cape Douglas off the shores of Fernandina Island. This site is perfect for observing Galapagos penguins whizz past in the water, as well as experiencing the endemic marine iguanas feeding underwater with their dragon-like tails.
Another beautiful site located on Santa Cruz is Gordon Rocks. An eroded crater in a submerged cone, Gordon Rocks is best known for allowing divers to get in close proximity with Hammerhead sharks. It is also the perfect location to spot Manta ray from December to April.
Another highly recommended dive site is North Seymour. The shallow rocky slope provides the perfect habitat for a large number of colourful species of fish, as well as Manta rays, Eagle rays, Hammerhead sharks, Dolphins and even Blue-footed boobies diving for a bite to eat!
Diving is recommended all year round in the Galapagos, although timing can vary if you are hoping to see specific migratory species. There is a hot season and a cool season caused by water currents.
The water temperature from January to May is around 24 – 28 degrees celsius, while June to December it tends to be around 17 – 20 degrees. Despite the higher water temperatures seeming attractive, some of the larger species of whales and sharks migrate to the islands in cooler water temperatures. If you are hoping to see specific species, it is best to check what times of the year they tend to be seen.