Galapagos Dive Sites
The Galapagos Islands have a multitude of world-class dive sites and are considered to be one of the best diving areas in the world.
Galapagos dive sites are considered to be some of the best diving worldwide, and a must visit for serious scuba divers.
Join a liveaboard cruise to the mecca of diving in the Galapagos Islands of Ecuador. A once in a lifetime experience will include the incredible and remote islands of Darwin and Wolf that can only be reached by overnight cruises.
Enjoy both the underwater marine life with mammals, sharks and fish life in these nutrient-rich waters. There are also visits to some of the islands to experience the fantastic terrestrial life in this archipelago.
Dive conditions can be challenging in the Galapagos and an advanced certification level along with experience is required. Having the Nitrox certification is a distinct advantage on any liveaboard cruise.
Take a look at the Liveaboard Cruise options below.
Galapagos Dive Sites - 10 LIVEABOARDS
Tiburon Explorer Liveaboard in Galapagos
One of the newest liveaboards exploring the dive sites of GalapagosBook Now
Blue Spirit Liveaboard in Galapagos
She is a newly refurbished in 2019 steel liveaboard travelling the best dive sites of Galapagos.Book Now
The dive sites in the Galapagos are located in the Galapagos Islands and the islands of Darwin and Wolf, located further away.
Darwin and Wolf are considered the highlight of any dive trip to the Galapagos. Due to their remote nature, they are only reachable by liveaboard. It is usual for the liveaboards to spend 2 to 3 days in this area to fully explore the islands underwater paradise.
Darwin Island Highlights
Located in the northern area of the archipelago like Wolf and they are the focal point of the Galapagos liveaboards. With healthy reefs, diverse and numerous marine life, Darwin Island should not be missed by any serious diver when visiting the Galapagos. Surface conditions are tricky, but water can be a little warmer due to the Humboldt current having less of an effect.
Darwin Arch is the only dive site at the mecca of Galapagos diving, but at different times it can be dived in three ways.
In strong currents, divers can find a place to settle before watching a parade of hammerhead sharks pass in close proximity. An occasional sighting of a Galapagos shark is also possible along with other pelagic marine life, but the dive is genuinely about the hammerheads. During the safety stop which is completed on the drift, sea lions may make a playful appearance.
When the current is not as strong, there is a Darwin Theatre or plateau on the top of the wall where there can be some shelter. The hammerheads and Galapagos sharks are still present along with some common fish life such as butterfly and angelfish. It is possible to move around the plateau being swept a little by the current then re-securing your position at another location. The safety stop is spent on the drift and the sea lions or even dolphins seen here make this a pleasant experience.
The final way to dive at Darwin’s arch is on the flat sandy area filled with garden eels, this is usually the easiest way to dive here. Turtles frequent this area with moray eels. The hammerhead and Galapagos sharks are seen overhead with the occasional whale shark joining them in the correct season.
Wolf Island Highlights
In the North of the Galapagos, 350km from San Cristobal, and named after the famous geographer Theodoro Wolf who pinpointed the centre of the earth at Quito. There are several dive sites here to be explored with vast numbers of marine and mammal life present throughout the year, many of which can be spotted from the boat itself. The island is uninhabited and cannot be visited, and the ocean conditions are choppy with a strong current, meaning divers should have a high-level of experience to dive here.
The Caves is a dive site visited by Galapagos liveaboards where sharks and turtles are commonplace. Some swim-throughs lead to a cave that when divers exit they are surrounded by hammerhead and white tip reef sharks along with eagle rays. There are some boulders where divers can shelter to view the fantastic Galapagos sharks that are often circling the area. The safety stop is spent drifting with the current away from the wall surrounded by schooling jacks, wahoo and grunts, there are still sharks present here but often hidden in the walls of fish. Bottlenose dolphins which are frequently heard through the dive can also make an appearance at this time for lucky divers as they approach the surface.
Landslide on the eastern side of the island is one of the best dive sites in the Galapagos. The rubble filled substrate with boulders gives the dive site it's name, covered in barnacles divers will need gloves to protect their hands when holding onto the boulders. Most of the underwater time is spent looking into the blue water for the large pelagic life that frequents this Galapagos diving site. Tuna, snappers, eagle rays and Galapagos sharks are found here, but the unmistakable highlight is the schooling hammerhead sharks. Mostly divers remain stationary on this site and watch the action, but with the slack current, it is possible to venture out into the blue water for a closer look.
Shark Bay is not only renowned for the shark encounters as the name would suggest, but also for the endemic sea lions that frequent the shallow water. This is the best opportunity to see these amazing creatures up close in the Galapagos as they often come to check out the divers in the shallow water. After a fast action packed start to the dive with the sea lions swimming around you, divers will move to the deeper rocky slope where the hammerhead sharks school. Divers will settle in the rocky outcrops to watch the action of the hammerheads, which are often joined by Galapagos and silky sharks along with tuna and barracuda. After a while divers can drift into the shallow water, here individual encounters with the hammerhead sharks are more common as they often they approach divers for a closer look.
Galapagos Islands Highlights
Close to Baltra Island is a favourite site for scuba diving in the Galapagos as the conditions are less challenging. Most of the dive will be spent between 12 and 18m here meaning longer dive times, but there is still shark diving as with most of the Galapagos diving sites. White tips, hammerhead and Galapagos sharks are present along with sea lions and mobula rays. Due to the ease of the dive site, it is often used as a check out dive for your Galapagos liveaboard.
Punta Vicente Roca
Punta Vicente Roca will be one of the coolest water dives on your Galapagos Liveaboard at 16 Celsius, but as the temperature drops the presence of unusual marine life increases. Mola mola that can be up to 2m in size are frequently seen here along with the red lipped batfish, a bottom dweller with a very unusual look. The rare Galapagos bull shark can also be found near the boulder scattered sandy bottom and always look out for the sea lions and penguins here.
Roca Redonda is another cooler water challenging dive site. Here streams of natural gas bubbles show the volcanic history and activity of the Galapagos. Placing some exposed skin in the bubble stream shows the temperature difference with the water. The dive site is covered in nudibranchs that enjoy the environment created here as do silky sharks which are common. Large hammerheads can be seen, but the vast numbers of Galapagos sharks are what the dive site is known for. They come close to divers on the safety stops where divers should be aware of possible down currents.
Cabo Marshall is 210Km from San Cristobal and often the last dive site of your Galapagos liveaboard cruise. It will not disappoint as the sea lions, hammerheads and white tip reef sharks will all be present. But this site is known for the sightings of various rays.
Manta rays enjoy a cleaning station here in the shallower turbulent water, small schools of mobula rays are here as are the cow nose rays.
Located off Fernandina Island is the place for some unusual sightings. It is the dive site in the Galapagos to see penguins swim past at high speed while you drift in the current. Also here are the marine iguanas, turtles and sea lions.
One of the best dive sites in The Galapagos, the strong currents often compared to a washing machine which encourage the larger schools of hammerheads, Galapagos sharks and eagle rays to frequent the area. Located in the central Galapagos area, this is a crater with a close by colony of sea lions and the endemic fur seals only found in the Galapagos.
Cousin's Rock is a Galapagos dive site with great macro life that is included in the Galapagos liveaboard cruises. It is a wall and slope site with many ledges for smaller critters to hide, such as nudibranchs, frogfish and hawkfish along with the native Galapagos seahorses. There is black coral growth and a large variety of reef fish. As with most Galapagos dive sites, there are larger pelagics out in the blue water, with manta rays, turtles, Galapagos, hammerheads and reef sharks. The safety stop is usually in the presence of sea lions.
There are island visits on several days that can be enjoyed by guests to visit some of the island's on shore wildlife.
Marine Park and Conservation in Galapagos
Conservation organisations have protected the Galapagos archipelago for many years.
The Galapagos National Park was formed in 1959 by the Ecuador government. Then in 1978, the Islands were added to the UNESCO World Heritage list. 1998 saw the Marine reserve expanded to cover 97% of the archipelago.
There are strict regulations for both terrestrial and marine park uses to preserve this unique area for future generations.
The reserve is the second largest in the world and includes all the major dive sites.