Most people book their Galapagos diving trip as a complete package on a live-aboard boat, although trips based out of Puerto Ayora offer consistent quality guides and safety standards. CEDAM international named Galapagos one of the Seven Underwater Wonders of the World. Some consider the Galapagos the premiere spot for seeing large marine fauna. Seeing pelagic species close to shore is common. The animals that inhabit these waters have not evolved with a sense of fear of humans, and your presence will seem no more than a curiosity to these animals. Reef fish, sea lions, sting rays, golden rays, eagle rays, invertebrates, morays, garden eels, turtles, marine iguanas, white tip reef sharks, hammerheads, whale sharks, whales, and pelagic fish are all common in the Galapagos. The sharks are timid and not dangerous, the sea lion pups basking on the beaches are graceful and playful in the water, and spotted rays are beautiful to watch. One in every four marine species is endemic, making the varieties of angelfish and even chub in the water a marine biologist’s jackpot.
Diving in the Galapagos is not recommended for first-time divers. Recently noted in one diving magazine as one of the world’s 10 most difficult recreational dive sites. Diving is often straightforward but the strong currents and the low visibility, surges, and cold water they bring make for some demanding changes in the water. Many of the Galapagos islands dives are drift dives. Divers enter the water in a group and drift down current.
The best spots for diving are Gordon’s Rocks, with its school of hammerhead sharks, and Darwin & Wolf Islands, which is only accessible for SCUBA divers. Other very popular spots are Punto Espejo and Leon Dormido.
Best time to dive
Best months for diving are December and January, then again in May and June. October is probably the worst month, cold and windy. More whale shark sightings are reported during May and June.
Visibility averages 50 to 80 feet.
The water temperature is generally about 70° F from January to April (the rainy season) and about 66° F the rest of the year.
Weather and climate
There are two main climatic seasons on Galapagos, the hot season from December to May which sees increased sea temperatures and occasional heavy rain fall, worst around January to February, off peak season and the cooler season June to November with more cloud form and misty patches leading to lighter rains, After June however trade winds can be significant affecting ocean temperatures. The islands are favorable to visit most of the year due to their latitudinal advantage.
To enter Ecuador only a valid passport is required. No visas are required for U.S., Canadian, and most European citizens unless you plan to stay more than 90 days. Check with local immigration offices or the Ecuadorian consulate prior to going to determine if a visa is necessary.
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Puerto Baquerizo Moreno
The Galapagos Islands, 600 miles west of mainland Ecuador, are a collection of 13 larger islands and many smaller islets. Lying on the Equator, they were formed (and are continually being modified) by a combination of volcanic activity and uplift in the last 15 million years.
The main attraction is the wildlife, where due to the isolation from the mainland and preponderance of reptile, bird, and marine species, with few predators, new species have evolved on different islands. The observation of this fact played a large part in Charles Darwin’s formulation of his theory of evolution expressed in his ‘Origin of Species’ after a visit in 1835. Perhaps the most interesting feature of the islands is the lack of fear shown by the wildlife. Most of the islands are a National Park and visitor numbers are controlled.
Get a map of the Galapagos Islands from WorldAtlas.com.