Scuba-diving: PADI
Courses in the
Galapagos Islands

Get a PADI certification in the Galapagos Islands


Galapagos PADI Courses

We often get asked if it is possible to incorporate PADI courses in our Dive Safaris. The short answer is yes, it is possible! Although, at Galapagos Safari Camp, we only offer Advanced PADI courses to divers who already have their Open Water Certification. This is because we don’t feel 100% comfortable with our guests learning to dive in the Galapagos, for reasons we outline below.


Galapagos PADI Courses: Table of Contents

Learning to scuba-dive in the Galapagos: Points for beginners to consider

If you are thinking about doing your Open Water PADI Course in the Galapagos Islands there are a number of important points you may wish to consider:

Marine life

Although the Open Water PADI course takes place in a shallow and calm pocket of sea water (much like a swimming pool), you are unlikely to see much in the way of marine life (compared to the main dive sites), which we think rather defeats the purpose of traveling all this way to dive here.

Chilly, choppy, strong currents

Even those who are freshly certified should be aware that the majority of dive sites in the Galapagos are best suited to more experienced divers, owing to the ocean’s chilly temperatures as well as their strong, and sometimes unpredictable, currents, especially in the cooler season of July to December (See When to Visit the Galapagos Islands). The sea can also get quite choppy in the cooler season, and divers should feel comfortable getting kitted up on swaying boats, as well as entering and exiting such waters.

Buoyancy control

The waters surrounding the Galapagos Islands also have high levels of salinity which can make buoyancy control more challenging.

Group safety

Our Dive Safaris are typically group experiences, with divers of varying skill levels. While Galapagos Safari Camp guests have a private Divemaster, separation from the group (and Dive Guide) is only allowed in emergencies or for an early ascent.If you’re relatively inexperienced or haven’t dived recently, we strongly advise increasing your dive count at home or completing the PADI ReActivate Scuba Refresher Program before diving in the Galapagos. This preparation not only enhances your diving experience but also ensures the enjoyment of the entire group.

You may also consider adding the PADI Advanced Open Water Course to your Galapagos Dive Safari. It offers supervised diving by a certified PADI Instructor, broadening your diving capabilities.

Alternative Destinations for Open Water

If you are considering an Open Water PADI course, there are plenty of destinations that offer more favourable conditions for beginners, such as the Caribbean, where ocean currents and choppy waters are less of an issue, and water temperatures are warmer. Once you’ve mastered the basics, you’ll be more than ready to take your Advanced PADI course in the Galapagos.

Best destination for PADI Advanced Open Water

Once you have your PADI Open Water Certification (and ideally, a few open water dives under your belt as well), you are ready to proceed to the next level. And there can be no better place to get your PADI Advanced Open Water Certification than the Galapagos Islands. Even PADI ranks the islands among the world’s top 5 Destinations Where You Need The Advanced Open Water.

What is involved in the Advanced PADI course?

The PADI Advanced Open Water course is a great way to enhance your Dive Safari, while continuing to build your confidence as a scuba-diver under the supervision of a PADI instructor. The course is designed to build upon the skills acquired in the Open Water Course, such as buoyancy control and underwater navigation, as well as teach you important new skills such as drift diving, deep diving and night diving.


Advanced Open Water Theory

The online training course takes approximately 6-8 hours to complete and should be taken before your visit to the Galapagos Islands. There is no exam.

You can purchase this element of the course on the PADI website. You will be required to either email us a copy of your eRecord showing your submitted exercises, or print it out and bring a copy with you. Alternatively, you can share the ID number on your eRecord with your instructor who will use that to search the portal to view your eRecord.


Advanced Open Water Practical

The practical element of the course can be completed within 2-4 days in the Galapagos with a PADI instructor, as part of your Dive Safari experience at Galapagos Safari Camp.

The course requires five specialty dives, two of which – Deep Diver and Underwater Navigator– are obligatory. You can choose the remaining three specialty dives. For the Galapagos Islands, our dive school partner recommends Drift Diver, Peak Buoyancy Diver and Night Diver.


When you dive below 18m/60 feet (the maximum depth for Open Water Divers) there are important safety considerations to be aware of. In the PADI Deep Diver course, you’ll learn how to safely dive to a maximum depth of 30m/100ft*, how to manage your gas supply, and how to identify and manage symptoms of narcosis.

*the depth of the dive will be between 18-30m / 60-100ft. The actual depth will depend on the age of the diver and the depth of the dive site you visit.
12-15 years old: Max depth = 21m/70ft
15+ years: Max depth = 30m/100ft


It’s very easy to get lost underwater and learning how to navigate back to the boat or entry point on the coast is crucial if you want to avoid long, exhausting swims on the surface. In the PADI Underwater Navigator course you will learn how to use a diving compass, estimate distances underwater and follow natural clues to find your way back to the boat without surfacing.


The Galapagos Islands are known for their strong ocean currents. It is, after all, these converging currents that give the archipelago its unique ecology and extraordinary marine wildlife. Understanding the causes and effects of aquatic currents is essential when diving in the Galapagos. In the PADI Drift Dive course you will learn how to descend in a current and stay close to your buddy, as well as how to maintain your buoyancy and confidence when ‘flying underwater’!


Maintaining controlled buoyancy is what defines a good scuba diver, and yet it is a skill that many divers struggle with, especially in the Galapagos where there tends to be high levels of salinity in the sea. In this PADI Peak Performance Buoyancy course, you will learn how to achieve effortless buoyancy, which in turn reduces your air consumption and enables you to hover gracefully so that you are less likely to disturb the surrounding marine life – a skill that other divers will thank you for as well!


Diving at night is a completely different experience to diving during the day, and will open your eyes to a whole new world. Although Open Water Divers can dive at night, the experience can be quite daunting if you haven’t received the proper training. As with all specialty dives, we can’t underestimate the value of being well prepared, so that you can fully embrace new experiences, instead of worrying about your safety. In this PADI Night Dive course you will learn how to navigate underwater at night without getting disoriented, how to correctly use your dive light for communication and how to maintain contact with your buddy. What’s more, you’ll be able to observe nocturnal creatures, including bioluminescent organisms – one of nature’s many wonders!

The night dive takes place in the calm, shallow waters of Academy Bay, which is only a 15-minute boat ride from Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz.



There are many more Specialty Dives to choose from, however the ones listed above are the courses we personally recommend for the Galapagos Islands. We can, however, also offer Fish Identification, Digital Underwater Photography (NB: the Videographer course is not possible), and Multilevel Diver (learning how to use a dive computer). If there is a particular specialty dive you have your heart set on, which is not mentioned here, please let us know and we will be happy to check if it’s possible.

Specialty Dive Certifications

Each specialty dive may also be credited toward the related specialty certification. For example, if you do a drift dive during your Advanced Open Water Diver course, you’ll have one of the two dives required for the PADI Drift Diver certification.

Sample Itineraries for the Advanced Open Water PADI Course

3 Diving Days (5 Dives)

Day 1: Deep dive + Navigation dive
Day 2: Two specialty dives of your choice e.g. Buoyancy + Drift
Day 3: One Night dive


  • You will be taken to the dive center prior to Day 1 to try the dive gear (30 minutes)
  • Minimum 18 hours wait required before flying

3 Diving Days (6 Dives)

Day 1: Deep dive + Navigation dive
Day 2: Two specialty dives e.g. Buoyancy + Drift
Day 3: One specialty dive, e.g. Fish Identification + 1 ‘Fun Dive’ (not part of the course)


  • You will be taken to the dive center prior to Day 1 to try the dive gear (30 minutes)
  • Minimum 18 hours wait required before flying, 24 hours preferred

2 Diving Days – Intensive (5 Dives)

Day 1: Two obligatory dives: Deep dive + Navigation dive
Day 2: Three specialty dives: e.g. Buoyancy + Drift + Night


  • This intensive course includes 3 dives on Day 2 which can be tiring for some. It is therefore best suited to physically active guests who are not able to do the 3-day course.
  • You will be taken to the dive center prior to Day 1 to try the dive gear (30 minutes)
  • 24 hours wait required before flying

Prerequisites for Advanced PADI Course

To take the PADI Advanced Open Water Course, divers are required to have one of the following certifications:

  • PADI Open Water Diver
  • Junior Open Water Diver
  • A qualifying entry-level certification

Advanced PADI Course for Children

  • The minimum age to start the Advanced Open Water Diver course is 12 years. However, divers are not able to earn the certification until they are 15 years or older.
  • Divers between the age of 12-14 earn a Junior Advanced Open Water.
  • Diver certification Divers 10-11 can earn a Junior Adventure Diver certification. Upon turning 12, they can complete the deep dive and earn a Junior Advanced Open Water Diver certification.
  • Divers certified as Junior Advanced Open Water Divers automatically become Advanced Open Water Divers at age 15. Any replacement certification card or eCard purchased the day after the diver’s 15th birthday will automatically show an Advanced Open Water Diver (not Jr. Advanced Open Water Diver) certification.

Advanced PADI Course Rates

As with all our Safaris, itineraries are fully customized according to the guests’ needs and interests. If you would like to incorporate the Advanced PADI Course into your Galapagos Dive Safari, please contact one of our Safari Designers who will be happy to discuss the various options with you, and send you a quote.

Personalize your journey!

We’re flexible and we love to personalize. How about..?

Talks with Galapagos experts, fishing trips with locals, tea inside a lava tunnel…

…picnic in the wilds, art classes, surf classes, ceviche-making and more!


Our Experts Say

Mathias Espinoza
Mathias Espinoza
Accredited Naturalist Guide and diver with over 20 years of experience diving in the Galapagos.
“The underwater Galapagos world still fills me with wonder after all these years, with endless schools of fish, sharks, golden rays, sea turtles. Life under the water is as every bit as impressive as the life above it in these enchanting Pacific Islands.”

Guest Reviews

Galapago here!
Cannot say enough good things about this wonderful place and their amazing staff! Everyone went out of their way to make our stay memorable - from the tea service that awaited us in the lava tubes on
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CORRIE S 12/20/2019
Perfect Family Vacation Exploring the Magical Galapagos Islands
I have always wanted to visit the Galapagos, but knew a cruise wasn’t for me and my family...even before Covid. The reviews of the Safari Camp and the videos I found online convinced me this was the
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ELLINLAW 1/01/2021
Great adventure in the Galapagos Islands
The Galapagos Safari Camp was a great place to stay if you want to experience the islands without sleeping on a boat to enjoy the islands. The tent camp is fun and unique and the lodge is wonderful. T
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