Galapagos Islands in a Nutshell - It's isolated terrain shelters a diversity of plant and animal species, many found nowhere else.
The Galapagos Islands are one of the top destinations for seeing large marine life native to warm and cold water climates. Dolphins, sea lions, sharks, penguins, turtles, marlin and large schools of fish are abundant. Divers can see silky sharks, Galapagos sharks, whale sharks, reef sharks, eels and manta rays. This is a wide-angle photographer's paradise, but don't leave the macro lens at home: frogfish, octopus, seahorses, nudibranchs and other small subjects are found at various dive sites.
One of the many unusual highlights in the Galapagos are marine iguanas, found underwater munching on algae and seaweed. They can reach 4-5 feet (1.2 - 1.5 meters) in length! Each island has unique species, which have evolved independently from their land-based counterparts in South America.
December - May: This is the warm season in the Galapagos with the highest water and air temps. Brief afternoon rain showers are common, but expect the tropic sun to reappear after the rain. Water temperature is 70-86F (21-30C) with some cooler thermoclines at depth. The northern islands are generally colder. Visibility stays between 40-100 feet (12-33 meters).
June - November: This season is known as the guarua and is cooler with frequent mist and overcast days. Winds can create rougher seas at times. Water temperature is 60-75F (16-24C). While colder, the trade off is the rich currents bringing nutrients into the islands, resulting in more abundant marine life. Visibility is slightly less as a result.
Galapagos Typical Dive - Galapagos diving is for advanced divers. Not only is the water cold enough to warrant a 5mm or 7mm wetsuit, but there can be currents, choppy water and other conditions requiring experience beyond casual open-water certification. Most divers visit the islands on liveaboards, which use small inflatable boats to access specific dive sites. Liveaboards vary in the number of dives offered per day, and also the number of dives at Wolf and Darwin Islands (popular for pelagics and seasonal whale sharks). Most Galapagos dive trips are now 8 days and 7 nights, offering 21 - 22 dives. Most boats will do 4 dives a day, including a night dive.
Really nice video from the Galapagos that shows sea lions, eagle rays, jacks, whale sharks, lots of hammerheads and great topside footage. Underwater footage starts at 1:46.
El Arco, Darwin Island – You can see schooling hammerheads, whale sharks and spotted eagle rays along with prowling Galapagos and silky sharks. It’s only accessible by liveaboard.
El Arenal, Darwin Island – Darwin’s Arch is a distinctive stone arch above the water and this dive site slopes off the arch. The site's marine life in incredibly rich. Big-eye jacks along with hammerhead, blacktip and whale sharks all frequent the area.
Roca Redonda, Isabela Island – This dive site is the tip of an underwater volcano that rises from the sea floor and emerges as an island. You can expect to find Galapagos sharks, schools of hammerhead sharks and barracudas.
Cape Douglas, Fernandina Island – This is a great spot to watch penguins “fly” past. Fur seals and Galapagos sea lions as well as marine iguanas can also be seen.
Pitt Point, San Cristobal Island – This is an exposed rock at the most northeasterly point of the island. It's likely that you'll meet schools of snapper, grunt and jacks. You might also see diving boobies.
Camaño Islet, Santa Cruz Island – This is a usually calm spot that allows you to see batfish, sea horses, groupers, sharks and sea lions. If you're lucky, you might also find marine iguanas diving beneath the waves searching for food.
Topside & Non-Diving Activities - Most Galapagos liveaboards offer several land excursions during the trip. These are opportunities to see land-based birds, penguins and the famed Galapagos giant tortoises. The non-dive activities differ depending on the trip itinerary and season, so be sure to check the specific itinerary of your trip for the land excursion details.
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