A trip to the Galapagos Islands (a World Heritage site) will be the journey of your lifetime. Located 1,000 km from the Ecuadorian mainland, the archipelago consist of 13 major islands, of which 5 are inhabited. The youngest islands, Isabela and Fernandina, are still being formed, with the most recent volcanic eruption 2007. Here;s the map.
Officially discovered in 1535 by a Spanish bishop, the islands, which are famed for their vast number of endemic species, gained the world's attention after a visit by Charles Darwin during the voyage of the Beagle that contributed to the inception of Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection.
Several oceanic currents meet in the islands which has led to an abundance of marine life equalled anywhere else in the world. This mix of sea temperatures delivers both temperate and tropical fish species. But it is the large schools of rays and sharks (seen all year round) which draws most divers to the Galapagos. Various species of turtle breed around the islands; endemic marine iguanas have adapted to the local conditions and now feed off the sea algae that thrives in the rich waters. From May to November, the nutrient-rich waters bring in the whales (Melon Headed, Pilot and Humpback) on their migration route to the coast of Ecuador. Combine all this will inquisitive seals and penguins and you'll have the diving trip to remember all your life!
Latest Galapagos News:
The National Park has loosened the regulations for liveaboards. Now, they permit 4 dives per day and a land visit to a site (normally only accessible to naturalist cruises). AND they are now permitting a night dive. Most Galapagos liveaboards are now doing 1 night dive per week.- you can find details at Dive the Galapagos.
We'd like to thank Leslie, Dive the Galapagos, for all her help in getting our information on the Galapagos pages up-to-date. Thank you Leslie!
- Cousins Island - on the NW side of Santiago Island; for diving on walls, slopes and ledges. You'll see a wall full of Galapagos ‘endemic’ species, black coral with lots of life on it, sleeping green sea turtles and the biggest sea horse of the Pacific - more than 25cm long. Schools of Hammerhead sharks, Eagle rays and Barracudas; but one of the best experiences must be seeing playful sea lions together with fur seals.
- Wolf and Darwin Islands - considered one of the the best diving sites on the planet. These islands are cleaning and feeding stations for all fish, big and small including amberjacks, whale sharks, trumpet and coronet fish, butterfly fish and Mmarbled rays. Amazing diving here! Darwin is even smaller than Wolf and a further 3 hours sailing time, it is here that you find the beautiful arch formation, ‘Darwin’s Arch’.
- Roca Redonda - located off the north-western tip of Isabela Island, is the tip of an active volcano that rises several thousand feet from the sea floor and emerges from the water as an island. Bubbles of hydrogen sulphide percolate through the sandy bottom, a sign of the ongoing volcanic activity..
- Gordon Rock - a half submerged volcano crater off the east coast of Santa Cruz.
- Sante Fe & Floreana islands - clear waters and milder currents around these islands make diving here ideal for novices.
- If liveboards aren't for you, you can dive on day trips but, remember, this will exclude you from diving some of the more remove sites such as Wolf and Darwin.
- Liveaboard diving in the Galapagos is for advanced divers only; strong currents, surge and combination of cold and warm waters.
- The Galapagos Islands have been added to the list of World Heritage sites in danger. The World Heritage Committee made the decision after considering the results of a joint monitoring mission by the World Conservation Union (IUCN) and UNESCO to the islands in April 2007. The mission found that annual visitor numbers have increased from 40,000 in 1996 to 120,000 today, bringing with them invasive species by plane and boat. [Source: People & the Planet 2000:2008]
- Galapagos Island Hopping Dive Tours will give you the best of both worlds. They are not the same as day trips but have a totally different feel as you will dive with the same divers dive day after day so the bond of a liveaboard is created.
- You will need to dive with 7mm wetsuits. No one can believe that's necessary on the equator, but spot a thermocline ahead (they are beautifully clear) and you know the sea temp is about to drastically drop!
- The sea water is 6% saltier in the Galapagos than most ocean water. You will need to check your weight to compensate.
|Climate:||Rainy season (Jan to March); (June to Nov) sees the Garua season when the islands can be misty; The best months to visit are April, May and November.|
|Natural hazards:||Volcanic activity|
|Diving season:||Although the weather can be changeable, diving is year round|
|Water temperature:||29C/84F (Jan-March)|