Diving in the Galapagos Islands - Bluewater Dive Travel

Best Scuba Diving in Galapagos Islands

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Scuba Diving Galapagos
Galapagos Scuba Diving
Diving Galapagos
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Galapagos Islands Scuba Diving
Scuba Diving in Galapagos
Galapagos Scuba Diving Liveaboard
Galapagos Liveaboard

Scuba Diving Galapagos, Ecuador

A bucket-list destination for all divers, scuba diving Galapagos Islands is an unforgettable experience. Divers seeking encounters with big marine life, rare animals found only in the area, and the most sensational underwater photography opportunities imaginable will find everything they are looking for and more while scuba diving Galapagos Islands.

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Galapagos Diving Highlights

The scuba diving in the Galapagos Islands is best known for its BIG and RARE marine life. Think lots of hammerhead sharks and 30+ other species of sharks, the ultra-rare marine iguana, manta rays, turtles and many more. If you dive at the right time, you'll be surprised with the number of "bucket list" marine animals that you can cross off your list within a week of Galapagos scuba diving.

Interested in diving Galapagos?  View the live availability of some of the best liveaboards in the Galapagos and book online at the best price or check out our sidebar for specials and workshops! 


 

Galapagos Liveaboards & Dive resorts 

Scuba diving the Galapagos Islands via liveaboard is the only way to dive all the best spots in a single visit. Some of the best dives in Galapagos are located at the remote Wolf and Darwin Islands, which would be notoriously difficult, if not impossible, to get to without a Galapagos diving liveaboard. Most liveaboard trips to the Galapagos last 7 nights, and would typically include a land tour to visit various endemic land animals.

View Galapagos liveaboard live availability and book online at the best price.

 

Intro to the Galapagos 

The Galapagos are volcanic islands in the Pacific Ocean, made famous by Charles Darwin and the National Park that protects them. Situated about 500 nautical miles (925 km) off the coast of Equador, the Galapagos are situated on the equator.

There are 18 islands in total, with the favorite dive spots being Wolf and Darwin Island, arguably the best dive destination in the world for pelagic life! The islands' isolation has led to unique evolution among the flora and fauna (eventually prompting Darwin to publish The Origin of Species) leading the Ecuadorian government to declare the Galapagos archipelago a national park in 1959.

 Red balloon frigate in Galapagos

The red balloon frigate. The land excursions in Galapagos are not to be missed!

It has subsequently been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which is great news for creatures like the Galapagos giant tortoise and the blue-footed booby, as well as the rich marine life making their home in the islands' surrounding waters.

Each Galapagos scuba diving liveaboard is given set itineraries by the government, which allow divers a wide range of dive opportunities. There are also "traditional" cruises through the islands with snorkeling, hiking, and other non-dive activities, as well as several hotels in Puerto Baquerizo Moreno (Isla San Cristobal) and Puerto Ayora (Isla Santa Cruz) offering land-based diving. If you like big fish and aren't afraid of a thick wetsuit, scuba diving Galapagos Islands is a must.

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WHEN TO scuba dive galapagos

Scuba diving in Galapagos Islands is available year-round, but the best time to go would highly depend on what you want to see and your tolerance for cold water

More on the best time to dive Galapagos

 

Learn all there is to know about Galapagos and see if this is the destination for you!

 

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Galapagos Diving information

With no shortage of interesting dive sites and marine life encounters, scuba diving Galapagos always impresses even the most seasoned and well-travelled divers! Read on for more information about marine life, diving conditions, and Galapagos dive sites.

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Galapagos Marine Life & Photography Subjects

The Galapagos Islands are one of the top destinations for seeing large marine life native to warm and cold water climates. The Galapagos is also home to some of the best shark diving in the world! While Galapagos is indeed a wide-angle photographer's paradise, you shouldn't leave the macro lens at home. Lots of small critters can be found at various dive sites. Grab your underwater camera housing and let's go!

Among the many unusual highlights while scuba diving 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.

List of some of the marine animals that you'll likely to see in Galapagos: 

  • Whale shark
  • Hammerhead sharks 
  • Silky sharks 
  • Galapagos sharks 
  • Reef sharks 
  • Eels 
  • Manta Rays 
  • Dolphins 
  • Sea lions 
  • Turtles 
  • Marlin 
  • Large schools of fish
  • Marine iguanas 
  • Frogfish 
  • Octopus 
  • Seahorses
  • Nudibranchs

 

Best Time to scuba Dive galapagos

The best time to scuba dive Galapagos highly depends on what you'd like to see! The diving season in Galapagos is generally divided into two categories: Whale Shark Season (June-November) and Manta Season (December-May) when it's slightly warmer. 

Manta Ray spotted in 2019

Manta Ray drifting overhead during our 2019 group trip to Galapagos

During the warmer Manta Season (December-May) the schools of hammerheads are generally larger and giant manta rays may be found off Isabela island. There is also some interesting mating behavior with the marine iguanas and world-famous blue-footed boobies. And, being the warm season, ocean surface conditions are calmer (for a smoother boat experience) with sunshine.

May is an awesome time for scuba diving Galapagos. It's one month earlier than the "official" whale shark season, but there's still a good chance to see whale sharks.

Whale shark in Galapagos, April 2022 

Whale shark. Captured by Mark Strickland during our group trip in April 2022

During the colder Whale Shark Season (June-November) the gentle giants come to feed on the plankton off Wolf and Darwin Islands. Fish life is also much more active due to the increased levels of nutrients in the water. On the downside, conditions may be rougher on the boats with limited sunshine.

The decision is ultimately yours, but feel free to ask us about our experiences during the different seasons. We've been booking and running successful trips to the Galapagos for many years and can give you recommendations based on your preferences! 

Interested in underwater photography? Check out next Galapagos Photo Workshop in May 2026. Daily workshops provided by photo pros at no extra cost!

 

galapagos Diving Conditions

  • 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 diving difficulty

Galapagos scuba diving is for advanced divers. Not only is the water cold enough to warrant a 5mm or 7mm wetsuit, but there can be strong 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. Galapagos 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.

  

Best Dive Sites in the Galapagos 

Based on our numerous visits to the area, we've rounded up some of the best dive sites in Galapagos:

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.

Find out why we think Darwin Island is one of the best dive sites in the world!

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 – Thi 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, seahorses, groupers, sharks and sea lions. If you're lucky, you might also find marine iguanas diving beneath the waves searching for food.

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Galapagos travel information

Getting there may seem more complicated than some destinations, but rest assured, the travel is worthwhile to experience scuba diving Galapagos. Just be sure to plan your flights so you arrive early to mitigate the risk of missing your Galapagos liveaboard departure.

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How to Get to the Galapagos

You can fly internationally into Mariscal Sucre International Airport (UIO) in Quito or José Joaquín de Olmedo International Airport (GYE) in Guayaquil, both in Ecuador.

Most liveaboard trips depart from either San Cristobal (SCY) or Isla Baltra (GPS). Daily airline transfers available from Guayaquil to both locations, with an easy transfer flight from Quito available (stay on the same plane).

It's recommended to fly into either Quito or Guayaquil 1-2 days before your liveaboard transfer since there are morning departures only, which don't sync up with arriving international flights. The flight to the Galapagos is about 2 hours.

Both Quito and Guayaquil have a wide range of hotel accommodations and plenty to explore while staying there. Quito is the capital city of Ecuador and a UNESCO heritage site at 7,900 feet in the Andes. The Mariscal Sucre is a popular part of the city for visiting tourists, however, it is 45-60 minutes from the airport. The Malecon in Guayaquil is popular with tourists, situated right on the Rio Guayas.  

 

How to scuba Dive Galapagos

For serious divers, we strongly recommend booking a liveaboard trip to Galapagos. Liveaboards will provide the most variety in dive locations and are the only way to access the famous Wolf and Darwin Islands. Land-based diving is available with 2-tank morning dives, however, the dive sites are limited in range from the port. 

Here at Bluewater Travel, we run guided trips and photo trips to the Galapagos every year. Our trips are carefully planned to hit the best diving spots during the best time of year. Daily photo workshops by photo pros are provided at no extra cost.

Our travel advisors can help you plan everything from A to Z and our trip leaders will be there to make sure that your vacation runs smoothly. All that at no additional cost to you! 

See all Galapagos liveaboards, view our next dive trips to the Galapagos or contact us to start planning your dream trip! 

 

Other things to do in galapagos

While scuba diving Galapagos is the most sought-after activity, most Galapagos liveaboards include several land excursions during the trip that shouldn't be missed. 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. 

Check out Komodo Island diving for another unique destination with fantastic topside wildlife and great diving. 

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Liveaboards in Galapagos

Galapagos liveaboards offer divers the largest range of dive sites, animal encounters, and are by far the best way to experience this natural paradise. Read on for more information regarding the best Galapagos liveaboards available.

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See the availability of liveaboards in Galapagos and book online. Best price guaranteed. No credit card fees.


The rates shown below are per person in USD. Some operators may quote in a different currency and the final pricing may vary depending on the latest exchange rates.

Please contact us for the latest availability of the Blue Spirit Galapagos

 

 

Other Useful Information 

Travel to a new region requires a bit of practical knowledge, and the team at Bluewater Travel is here to help you with all the details for scuba diving Galapagos. Read our list of Galapagos travel tips for more information. Don't see what you're looking for? Contact us and our team will be happy to assist.

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Practical Information

  • Currency: US Dollar
  • Language: The predominant and official language of Ecuador is Spanish. English is the most spoken foreign language amongst tourist providers and professionals.
  • Main Airport Code: GPS
  • Time Zone: UTC-5
  • Electricity: 120 V 60 Hz

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GOT QUESTIONS? READY TO BOOK?

Call us today at +1-310-915-6677 or email us info@bluewaterdivetravel.com

And let us book your dream vacation!

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Underwater Images

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More Galapagos underwater videos:

 

Epic 4-minute must see video from our Feb 2016 trip, with countless hammerheads, Mola mola, marine iguanas, penguins.


Hammerheads at Wolf island - a great video taken by diver Andy Phillips on a rebreather.  

 

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Reviews (8)

5
5
5
4

I went to the Galapagos a number of years back with a dive buddy. For those of us with families and tighter pocket books this is once in a lifetime bucket list trip. We booked the trip with Aggressor, and I really can't say anything bad about service, crew, or boat. Most meals were great, but we had the occasional just okay meal. Between all the diving and shore excursions eating up your calories any food is good, honestly. Of course, you really go for the underwater scenery. The amount of sea life is astonishing. From a diver that is used, to mostly, Caribbean diving, just the shear overall amount of fish, coral, rays, octopi, etc. is amazing. The hammer head sharks, which there are many, are a bonus. Some dives were a real underwater circus. Although, there were a couple dives that were comparably less visually consuming, but still always had something great to offer. It was, apparently, unseasonably warm. Most were wearing 5mil suits. I had brought my 5mil, but ended up wearing my 2mil instead. Although, I don't get cold easy, so wear what is comfortable for you. There were a couple dives that had very intense currents and wave movements. If you are uncomfortable with this type of dive it could make you anxious. Personally, I love challenging dives, and sometimes being thrown around is just plain fun. Nice thick gloves are must for holding on to outcroppings during these dives. While we had some superb dives, top side was fun as well. We had people from 5 different countries, and everyone got along well. During the first or second night while being moored off Darwin Island, I believe, a pod of dolphins put on a show for us. They hung about 10-20 meters off the boat and were doing jumps and flips for about fifteen minutes. I thought about rating the Overall Value a four, because it is very expensive, but all live aboard trips are expensive. Honestly, I think for the price you get more than you bargain for. IF I ever get the opportunity, I would definitely do it again.

Visited on 03/2007 - Submitted on 01/22/2014
5
5
5
5

This destination exceeded my expectations. Galapagos is an amazing location that lives up to its reputation as one of the premier dive destinations in the world - whale sharks, hammerheads, Galapagos sharks, giant spotted eagle rays, marine iguanas and more. Plus, the staff on our liveaboard was incredibly knowledgeable and helpful. Also - it would be important to note that photography in the Galapagos is not for beginners as the dive conditions make it quite challenging.

Visited on 08/2021 - Submitted on 08/17/2021
5
4
5
4

Where to start! The Galapagos has been at the top of my bucket list for years, so this trip was highly anticipated. From a marine-life perspective, it didn't disappoint, and we saw far more than I was expecting. However, visibility wasn't great so some sightings felt fleeting at best. At Wolf and Darwin, we saw plenty of individual hammerheads and a few small groups, however, they were shy and didn't come closer than 15m. The poor vis meant we didn't get to experience the huge schools that this area is famous for, however, I'm sure they were there just out of sight. We also saw a good number of big Galapagos sharks, and a couple of whitetip reef sharks.

One of the highlights was spotting a huge whale shark. It spent some time doubling back and did a big figure of 8 loop so that we got a really great view. On another dive we saw 3 Mola mola at a cleaning station and then a single Mola mola during our safety stop, but , again, visibility wasn't great so we only watched them for less than a minute before they disappeared.

I was really blown away by the abundance of life here. The reefs are alive and bustling, and the fish don't seem scared of divers. I've never seen so many turtles and moray eels!

Diving can be challenging, especially for inexperienced divers. Expect STRONG currents at some sites, where you duck behind a rock and hold on. There is also quite a bit of bluewater diving and safety stops, choppy surface conditions, and it can get cold. In December the lowest temperatures we recorded were 13C at Fernandina! But it's worth it to see the marine iguanas and Mola mola.

Galapagos is reasonably undeveloped but definitely caters to tourists. There are countless t-shirt and souvenir shops, and the tortoise reserve is interesting. If you have some extra time, I would suggest visiting some of the more outlying areas where the wildlife is exceptional.

Visited on 12/2022 - Submitted on 12/20/2022
5
5
5
5

Diving with Galapagos Sky has lifted the bar for livaboards. The friendly staff, thoughtful service, restaurant quality meals and dive set up showed the results of striving for excellence. The dive sites were amazing and the guides added to the experience rather than rushing us through it. Don't be put off by the detailed expectations in the trip notes- Galapagos Sky was extremely welcoming and flexible to individual needs.

Visited on 04/2023 - Submitted on 04/11/2023
  • Top Reviewer
Minneapolis, MN
United States
4
4
5
5

I think that it is best to start a review of the Galapagos Islands in Quito. The new airport is almost an hour away from the city, but it is worthwhile to spend at least one day there and maybe two or three. The old quarter of the city is a UN World Heritage Site and it beautiful to see.

One arrives into the Galapagos Islands on the small island of Baltra and are taken by ferry to the core island of Santa Cruz. Santa Cruz is by far the most populated of the islands and also contains quite a bit of agriculture. Some of the local farms represent the best spot to see the giant tortoises of Santa Cruz. Each island has its own tortoise species (Isabella has 4 I believe--one for each volcano). Puerto Aroyo is a town of about 25K inhabitants and is he commercial hub of the islands. Many local dive tours and island tours leave from here including ferries to other islands. The Darwin Research Center is also here and is a great chance to see many tortoises and species such as the land iguanas. Don't miss it--it is within a long walk of the city center.

We took a ferry to Isabella which was kind of a rough 2 hour ride to the very much smaller city of Puerto Villami on the SE corner of the island. Isabella is large and has incredible variety. We walked to the top of southernmost volcano. We went snorkeling near the town and saw white tips with sea lions harassing them. We saw thousands of marine iguanas and of course, blue boobies. The highlight of our stay was a long boat ride to the site of Los Tunneles which looks like some scene from another planet. Along the way, we saw dozen of mantas on the surface. We had a great chance to snorkel with them, eagle rays, and turtles everyway. This side tour is a bit expensive, but worth the price in every way. We got to see several of the Isabella tortoise species along one of our hikes. Diving is very good here as well, but not up to the standards of the outer islands.

Espanola is another island that is worth a visit if you have a chance. It is one of the oldest of the islands and is quite small. In July, we saw albatrosses mating which was quite interesting. Blue boobies were everywhere and several other species of birds that are not seen on the other islands. This is an island that is not frequented by divers because of its location, but if you have a chance to get here with a couple day extension, make the investment.

We did most of our diving from a liveaboard and most of them now take a very standard 7 day trip through the islands. We started in the Bartholomew area which is famous for its views featured in the Master and Commander movie. The diving in the area ifs very good, but not spectacular. Lots of snappers and lots of turtles.

After a long 1 day cruise, the boat arrives at Wolf and the fun starts. We did 5 dives there including a night dive which was very good with turtles sleeping and eels in abundance. The conditions were quite harsh here with lots of surge and rough surface conditions. We saw a half dozen eagle rays and too many hammerheads to count. It was a tough place to have a big camera though and it was easy to get bruised up on the rocks.

The next 1.5 days we spent at Darwin which is definitely world class. Dolphins on the surface. Orcas by the boat. Silky sharks circling at the "unsafety stop" and sharks pretty much everywhere. We saw two whale sharks, one of which bumped my son in the head with its tail. He didn't even see it coming but I got it on video.

We spent the last days of the trip off the coast of Fernandina where the water was cold, but full of marine iguanas. We also had orcas cruise by when we were diving. We also saw them on the surface. Never a dull moment. We finished at the NW corner of Isabella where the water was incredibly cold. We saw mola mola, giant seahorses, and the infamous red lipped batfish.

On the way back to port, we stopped for a couple of dives at Cousins Rock which is also a very nice site. We saw a half dozen eagle rays as well as a lot of turtles.

This destination is pretty incredible. A week of liveaboard is the only way to see the diving. An extra week is also worth the time spent to see a small sample of what is not underwater.

Visited on 07/2013 - Submitted on 02/07/2014

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