Diving in The Galapagos Islands
The Beauty Of Diving In The Galapagos Islands
If you have ever dreamed of taking a vacation that is exciting, interesting, something you will always remember and completely satisfying then try the Galapagos Islands. The Galapagos are made up of nine separate islands located in the Pacific Ocean approximately 800 km west of Ecuador. The islands and the surrounding marine reserve have been called a showcase of evolution and a unique living museum. They are stunning. The combination of currents from three oceans turns the waters into a nutrient rich region which supports a diversity of marine life. The islands were formed through volcanic activity and their isolation, has allowed unique animals such as marine iguana’s and giant tortoises to flourish with no natural predators.
Traveling to the Galapagos Islands
To reach the Galapagos Islands you must first fly into either Guayaquil or the capital city of Quito. Most travelers prefer Guayaquil because it is closer. If you are not interested in visiting the capital city, the flight to Guayaquil is faster because it does not generally have any stopovers. There are numerous airlines to choose from but most flights are either in the evening or the early morning. The chances are good you will need to spend one night on the mainland. The best way to continue your journey from here is to take a flight to Baltra Island. Then you will catch a bus and a ferry ride to Puerto Ayora. This is located on Santa Cruz Island. You may be tempted to spend some time here because this is the most popular hub for tourists.
Your second option is to take a flight to San Cristobal Island. This is the capital of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno. This is a little more difficult because most cruises begin in Santa Cruz. You can choose to book through one of the domestic airlines available. Some of the companies offer tours but these do not necessarily include the price of the flights in the package.
The waters of Galapagos have been named as one of the worlds seven underwater wonders, here you can see penguins, Galapagos four eyed blenny’s and of course marine iguanas.
It is important to be aware diving in the Galapagos is not a location suitable for beginner divers. This has been called one of the ten most difficult dive sites in the world for recreational dives. To make certain the divers are safe the majority of Galapagos dive operator take potential clients on an initial dive. This dive is easy but it enables the operators to see the abilities of each diver. You have to be comfortable in these waters and have excellent buoyancy control because at times they can be unpredictable. The diving is very straightforward, but the visibility is low and the currents are strong. The diving here is also demanding due to the cold water and surges present in the water. If you have dive logs and a PADI card you definitely want to bring them with you. However despite the challenges, diving in The Galapagos is incredible.
The Waters of the Galapagos Islands
The Galapagos Islands are surrounded by cool waters. The Humboldt current comes up from the south and along with deep upwellings make the temperature of the water as cold as ten degrees Celsius. There are five warmer currents that mix with this water bringing the average annual temperature to only eighteen degrees Celsius throughout the year with the low temperatures averaging out at roughly thirteen degrees Celsius. The warmest temperatures are between December and March and can reaches temperatures as high as 23 degrees Celsius.
It is important to consider these water temperatures and the unpredictability and strength of the currents when planning to dive here. If you plan to bring your own equipment with you for your dive a thick (7mm) wetsuit is strongly recommended or preferably use a drysuit for the colder months. If you are more interested in surface snorkeling then plan a trip between December and March.
Popular Dive Sites
Gordon’s Rocks is an excellent spot for diving and is well-known for large schools of great hammerhead sharks
This dive features manta rays, dolphins, turtles and eagle rays. You may even see a white shark due to the strong current. Look for schools of blacktip sharks, silky sharks, hammerheads and Galapagos sharks. The average depth is thirty feet. This is an intermediate to advanced dive.
This is a beginners dive off Santa Cruz Island. There are seahorses, sea lions, batfish and grouper congregate here. Sometimes marine iguanas appear under the surface during their search for food. The visibility is normally good and the depth is 33 to fifty feet.
This is an advanced dive which you can only access by charter or liveaboard. This is where you can make your dream of diving with huge whale sharks come true from May until November. This Wolf Island dive often has Galapagos sharks and hammerhead sharks. There are sometimes harsh and strong currents and the visibility is limited.
This dive is on Santa Cruz Island’s northeast side in a submerged cones eroded crater. Numerous large marine animals come here but the prize are the hammerheads. These predators come by the strong currents. The area is confined making this a fantastic spot for a close visit with the sharks. Due to the structure and currents this area is called the washing machine. This is an intermediate to advanced dive.
Darwin & Wolf Islands
Darwin & Wolf Islands are sensational but only experienced scuba divers are permitted to dive here. You may also want to consider Leon Dormido and Punto Espejo.
Punta Vicente Roca
This dive is off Isabela Island and features small caves and a sloping wall. The maximum depth is 88 feet with good conditions. Invertebrates cover the wall including seahorses and frogfish. The biggest attraction are the sunfish. The outside of the wall often has Mola mola. This is where they come for a cleaning. This adventure also includes playful sea lions and diving penguins.