Galapagos Expedition - Pacific

  • Water temp 21 - 24 C
  • Air Temp 24 - 29 C
  • Visibility 5 - 30m
  • Good for... Sharks, Rays & unique ecology
  • Suitable for beginners No
  • Highlights Everything! From sharks and manta to sea lions and iguana... you never know quite what will turn up in the Galapagos. This is the ultimate pelagic paradise.

About Galapagos Expedition

The Galapagos have earned a mighty reputation as one of the ultimate liveaboard diving destinations and not without reason. This low-lying volcanic chain was not only Darwin's inspiration. It is home to diving the like of which you cannot find elsewhere on the planet. The marine life is completely unique with sharks, rays, sea lions, iguanas, penguins. Watch tuna, salema, snapper, rainbow runners and sail fins dart around the reef... if you can tear your eyes off the ocean's larger inhabitants. This is every diver's wish list come true before your eyes. Set your sights on some of the best liveaboard diving you will ever encounter and sail into the intoxicating world of diving in the Galapagos.

There are three distinctive types of underwater environment in the Galapagos Islands. It's almost as if you were in three different dive destinations. The Southern and Central Islands are washed by the Humboldt current from the South, so pretty cold water (23-24) but reasonably clear and blue. Stunning dives such as Cousins and Cape Marshall, with eagle rays, mobulas and huge mantas, as well as endless large schools of brightly coloured surgeon fish and snappers, and of course the ever present playfull sea lions. The western side of Isabella is washed by the cold upwelling of the Cromwell current. Here the water is quite chilly (18-22 C) and green, but also some fainting sites such as Roca Redunda and Punta Vicente Roca. Sea lions playing in the fumaroles (thermal vents), red lipped batfish, yellow sea horses are all seen at Cabo Douglas. You never know what is passing though. Orca, mola mola and whalesharks are all seen passing through!

But the really big action is in the North at Darwin and Wolf. Here the water can be 26-27 degrees as these islands are washed by the warmer Panama current. Before you even get in the water itís thrilling to be diving under the iconic Darwin Arch. Rocky and unwelcoming above the water line, beneath awaits a truly inspiring scene. 3 full days are spent on these two reefs, getting to grips with every nook and cranny. Hammerheads are the first and foremost attraction, schooling in vast numbers around the submerged pinnacles of Wolf and Darwin. Galapagos sharks are common too, slinky and svelte nipping in and out of the reef life. White tips hide in the reef from the larger predators. If you like your fish even bigger, whalesharks are often seen in the blue, munching on plankton along with manta, mobula and eagle rays. Look out for a Tiger Shark that can be seen in the shallows!

The itineraries are subject to minor changes at short notice by the Marine Park Authorities, however a substantial part of every trip is spent at Wolf and Darwin and some dives in the other areas. The current permission dives Isla Lobos, Cousins Rock, Bartolome, Cabo Douglas, Punta Vicente Roca, Pinzon Wolf and Darwin.

Every diver should certainly experience the Galapagos for themselves but the diving is not suited to novice divers. Wolf and Darwin are the furthest point on the itinerary and divers need to be comfortable in currents and zodiac diving. Thermoclines are common but these are what draw the overwhelming numbers of big fish closer. Dive guides are experts in their fields - not only do they know how to make sure you have a safe and awesome dive trip, but they are also hugely knowledgeable about the marine life and eager to share! Please check with your travel consultant about the required safety equipment.

The Galapagos is a once in a lifetime trip and the best diving can only be accessed from liveaboards on either 7 or 10 night liveaboard options. This is the only way to travel and dive in comfort, visiting all the hot spots and highlights of this remarkable corner of the globe. Sail the oceans blue and prepare to be left breathless.

Galapagos Aggressor

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Galapagos Sky

A Galapagos liveaboard is in the top 5 wish list of most divers - this is THE scuba diving holiday that no one wants to skip, especially for anyone serious about diving with sharks (hammerheads galore!). And with Galapagos Sky (fo... MORE

Majestic Explorer

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Scuba Travel works with a range of liveaboards with permission to dive in the Galapagos. Please note the above number of dives are intended as a rough guide only. Local permissions mean that the actual sites visited can change at short notice, although this is infrequent. Each of the boat operators works closely with the local authorities to arrange the dive sites, but Scuba Travel is in no way able to control the sites visited on land or underwater.

Embarkation Points
Galapagos liveaboards will usually depart from either San Cristobal or Baltra. Flights to the correct airport will be booked on your behalf from Guayaquil or Quito. This will not affect your diving.

Trip Durations
Galapagos Sky offers trips for 7 nights with 17-19 dives total
Galapagos Aggressor 3 offers trips for 7 nights with 17-19 dives total
Majestic Explorer offers trips for 7 nights with 17-18 dives total

Arrival
Generally speaking you will arrive into Ecuador via Guayaquil and then overnight. This gives you a chance to recuperate. Your flight to the islands will depart early the next morning and you will be advised of the transfer time locally. You will be met in San Cristobal or Baltra by the boat who will assist with the national park fees, transit card and chamber tax (these can be prepaid). You will then be escorted to your liveaboard.

Your first dive will normally be that afternoon at a popular site on San Cristobal called Isla Lobos where you can get close to the colony of friendly sea lions. Looks out for rays and sand dollars too. if you are not having too much fun with the speedy sea lions! The boat will also sail around Kicker Rock so you can get your first views of the startling scenery in the Galapagos before cocktail hour!

Santa Cruz area
On the way up to and back from Wolf and Darwin dives will be offered at some excellent dive sites.

Vincente Roca is well worth more than 1 dive and as diving was prohibited for several years here, the marine life is thriving with frog fish, red lipped bat fish, electric rays and even marlin. Mola mola can be drawn to the cooler water temperatures. You will sail past some of the most picturesque beaches in the Galapagos. There will be a panga ride to visit the penguins and chance to go snorkelling too.

Cousins Rock is a well known dive site in the region and offers both a scenic drift as well as a chance for pelagic encounters. Hammerheads can be found but seal ions are most common along with eagle rays.

Punta Carrion, Cabo Douglas, Bartolome Punta and Pinzon are further dives in this region

Wolf & Darwin
Wolf and Darwin are where the action really starts! You can expect to do between 9-11 dives in this remote and wild area - there may be a night dive but this is offered entirely at the boat's discretion. There are several sites here worth dropping in on. The Landslide is a sleep cliff that drops underwater to a depth of 50m and where the hammerheads can be found - look to the blue. Galapagos sharks, rays, eels and turtles too! The Pinnacle is a swift drift dive and Shark Bay is home to yet more hammerheads. Hop in for an easy last dive at the Anchorage to see the red lipped batfish crawling along the bottom.

The most famous landmark in Darwin is the Arch which can be subject to strong currents and therefore sharks. Hover over the sandy bottom as hammerheads come in to be cleaned by angel fish. Amid the sharks are schooling barracuda, tuna and jacks. Repeating the Arch will yield even more sightings, especially if you venture into the blue where you may find whalesharks, manta or turtles swimming lazily past.

Land excursions
Towards the beginning of the trip there is usually a chance to go out in the panga to get close to marine life. There is a land tour (eg North Seymor or Bartolome Summit)

At the end of your diving you will have a chance to explore the Galapagos surface side. You will visit a tortiose reserve in Puerto Ayora. This is followed by a trip to the Charles Darwin or the Interpretation centre.

Dismbarkation Points
Boats normally return to San Cristobal or Baltra. If you are not extending your stay in the Galapagos then your return journey to the UK will begin. You can catch your return flight to Ecuador

Alternatively you can take more time on the mainland. Talk to the travel team about rainforest or city extensions.