Scuba Diving Galapagos: Essential Things You Need to Know

scuba diving galapagos
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Scuba diving Galapagos will undoubtedly give you an experience you won’t soon forget, especially if you love marine life.

As an area well known for its marine life, which includes 30+ species of sharks, you’ll have a new experience every time you get in the water.

If you’ve always been interested in scuba diving in the Galapagos, we highly recommend using this guide to your advantage.

About the Galapagos

Did you know that the Galapagos are protected islands and are also known as a UNESCO World Heritage Site?

With this title, all the wildlife on the islands and in the water are protected.

This protection allows them to flourish in their natural habitat, and they are readily available for viewing.

There is plenty to do on the islands, whether you want to try scuba diving, exploring hiking trails, snorkeling, or even participating in liveaboard tours.

Located in the Pacific Ocean, these volcanic islands were valued by Charles Darwin and are about 500 nautical miles away from Equador, situating them directly on the equator.

In total, there are 18 different islands with plenty of world-famous dive spots, especially if you’re searching for pelagic wildlife.

You’ll also fall in love with the assortment of flora and fauna in the national parks that will take your breath away.

There’s undoubtedly something for every type of visitor, whether you want to get into the water or not.

The Best Time for Scuba Diving

One of the most notable things about the area is that it’s home to a variable climate, which means there are different seasons to be aware of if you plan to visit it.

From December to June, you’ll be faced with hot and humid temperatures ranging from 79°F to 86°F with an incredibly high humidex.

June to November is a great time to visit if you want a more refreshing breeze combined with drizzle, as the averages during this time of the year only range from 68°F to 75°F during the day.

You can guarantee that at night, those temperatures are bound to drop, so it may be preferable to opt for travel during the warmer months.

It’s also important to note that every island seemingly has its own weather, and the currents can also affect the water temperature.

Islands known for currents will typically have cooler water temperatures since the currents bring the cold water to the coast.

You’ll also find that during any time of the year, you’ll typically experience up to 100-foot visibility, though there are some days where visibility may reach 70 feet at most.

Apart from the temperatures of the water, it’s also important to note that locals typically divide the year into two distinctive seasons, Manta Season and Whale Shark Season.

From June to November, it’s Whale Shark Season where sharks will be the most prevalent, and December to May is when you’ll see the most manta rays.

Marine Life

If you’re a fan of marine photography, you will fall in love with the amount of marine life in the waters surrounding the Galapagos.

There is an extensive list of subjects that you can experience for the first time and take photos to make your trip even more memorable.

From large species of sharks to small critters hiding beneath the surface, you’ll never run out of amazing things to see during your drop.

Most notably, people find they love viewing the marine iguanas, which are typically seen underwater, where there is a lot of seaweed and algae.

These underwater creatures can get as large as 1.5 meters in length, which is something you’ve never seen before.

Some of the most common marine species you’ll set your sights on during your scuba diving expedition include:

  • Eels
  • Dolphins
  • Silky sharks
  • Hammerhead sharks
  • Whale sharks
  • Sea lions
  • Manta Rays
  • Marine iguanas
  • Frogfish
  • Seahorses
  • Nudibranchs
  • Octopus
  • Marlin
  • Turtles
  • Galapagos sharks

Diving Conditions and Difficulty

Scuba diving Galapagos is best left for people with plenty of experience, especially since the water conditions aren’t like some other places around the world.

Typically, divers will need to have experience wearing at least a five- or seven-millimeter wetsuit to keep them sheltered from the cool to cold waters.

Also, you’ll find the diving conditions change regularly but are mostly choppy and filled with currents, which is much different from casual open-water scuba diving locations.

You can certainly expect you will need proper certifications to be able to dive in the Galapagos safely.

However, there are plenty of on-island agencies that you can visit to get the proper training and certifications.

We highly recommend talking to local professional divers, as they can tell you where all the best dive spots are depending on your experience level.

Recommended Diving Training

As mentioned, diving in the Galapagos isn’t as easy as most tourist locations, and you will be required to have some certifications under your belt.

It’s always best to have an Open Water Diver certification, though you will also want to consider Drift Diver courses.

If you intend to take photographs of the wild marine life in the area, investing in a Digital Underwater Photographer course can also be a fantastic option.

For your safety in any popular dive spot, you may also want to consider a Fish Identification course to help you identify different fish species around you when you get into the water.

Best Diving Sites in the Galapagos

Now that you know the basics of scuba diving in this lush and exotic area, let’s discuss some of the best spots to visit.

1. El Arco, Darwin Island

This location is easily one of the top 10 dive sites in the entire world, as it is home to plenty of spotted eagle rays, whale sharks, and schools of hammerheads.

Likely, you’ll only be able to access El Arco via a liveaboard, and when you’re in the water, you’ll want to hold your position as the marine life moves around you.

2. El Arenal, Darwin Island

If you’re genuinely looking for the most authentic shark viewing experience, El Arenal is a fantastic option as well.

It is known for its stunning stone arch that makes its way above the water, but it also is home to an abundance of sharks.

You’ll find blacktip sharks, whale sharks, and hammerheads in this area.

3. Cape Douglas, Fernandina Island

Aside from shark viewing, there are plenty of other species you’ll want to experience during your time at the islands.

At Cape Douglas, you can experience penguins, fur seals, and sea lions.

This area is also known for its highest concentration of marine iguanas.

Scuba Diving Galapagos: Final Thoughts

From Santa Cruz Island to Darwin Island, the Galapagos is home to plenty of different marine species and experiences you won’t ever forget.

As an area that is well-known to professional wildlife photographers, this is easily one of the most exciting and life-changing places for you to go scuba diving.

With the right certifications, you can smoothly go scuba diving in the Galapagos for your upcoming trip.

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