Updated April 18, 2021
This is the fourth in a series that introduces and describes the various dive services and sites for worldwide liveaboard dive safaris. This one will focus on the Galapagos Islands, a unique and extremely popular world-class area to dive.
In addition to this series on liveaboards, the best worldwide dive resort locations and services are reviewed in their own series. To check them out, or others in this series, click on Liveaboards/Resorts on the menu at the top and choose a title from the list.
Have you been diving on the Galapagos Islands before? If so, I’d love to know about your experience. What dive shop or liveaboard did you use? Which dive spots are the best and what are the conditions there regarding the visibility, current, water temperature, sealife attractions, etc.? Please post your response in the comments section at the bottom and we’ll all learn something we can use.
Galapagos Liveaboard Review
Some of the most awe-inspiring marine life in the world is found around these 21 volcanic islands. Fortunately, the idyllic scene that Darwin originally described is still in excellent condition due to habitation limited to four islands, no commercial fishing, and the fact that it is a national park.
For details on the geography and history of the Galapagos Islands, click here.
The underwater terrain is characterized by volcanic rock with some coral in between that occasionally has heavy currents in the channels and thermoclines. What is truly spectacular and bucket-list-worthy is the variety of large sea life. Among the non-fish life are penguins, sea lions, fur seals, iguanas, green sea turtles, dolphins, and even orcas in the vicinity of Darwin and Wolf Islands. In the ray category are mantas, golden mantas, eagle rays, stingrays, and marbled electric rays. Sharks include white and blacktip reef sharks, Galapagos sharks, silver sharks, tiger sharks, and whale sharks. In the monster fish category are marlin, ocean sunfish (mola mola), and sea bass. Additionally, there are brilliantly colorful reef fish like angelfish, surgeonfish, batfish, wrasses, and butterflyfish. Please check out the videos below where you can see examples of practically all of these creatures.
Seasons and Conditions
There are two seasons in the Galapagos. The warm, wet season runs from December to May when air temperature averages 25-26°C (77-79°F). The water temperature range is 22-25°C (71-77°F). A plankton bloom happens in this season which is very attractive to mantas and a variety of other rays.
From June to November, the water temperature stays around 22°C (71°F). A plankton bloom happens in this season which is attractive to whale sharks but causes visibility to decrease to 8-15 meters (26-49 feet). This is also the season when penguins and mola mola are more common. With water this cold, 5-7 mm wetsuits with hoods and gloves or even drysuits may be suitable.
For a description and review of cold water gear:
For more details of diving the Galapagos Islands regarding the undersea life, seasons and conditions, dive sites, lodging, transportation, and local dive shops, please check out this review:
Galapagos Islands Liveaboard Dive Trips – Boats/Tours
The Galapagos Islands are serviced by nine different boats for liveaboard scuba diving vacations of 6 to 10 days at rates of $222 to $739 daily. Below is a list of some of the best vessels and their features. After that are my recommended sample of 5 great boats.
For information and full details of all Galapagos dive boats on the list below, click here.
- Humboldt Explorer
- MY Galapagos Master
- Galapagos Sky
- Galapagos Aggressor III
- Tiburon Explorer
- Blue Spirit
Most Popular – Humboldt Explorer
- Cruises central Galapagos, Wolf & Darwin Islands, Punta Carrion (Sta. Cruz), Cousin’s Rock (Santiago)
- 2 wildlife land tours: North Seymour and Santa Cruz Islands
- Cabins have TV, DVD and en-suite facilities, air-conditioning
- Free local alcohol
- Local Ecuadorian cuisine and international dishes
- Jacuzzi on the sun deck
- Steel-hulled boat with diver safety devices
- 2 Motorized dive dinghies
- Nitrox fills for enriched air certified divers ($150 per tour)
- Experienced English-speaking divemasters: 4-5 divers per DM
- Maximum of 16 guests with 9 staff
Top-Rated – Galapagos Sky
- Cruises central Galapagos, Wolf & Darwin Islands, Cabo Marshall, Vicente Roca, Roca Blanca, Cousin’s Rock, Cabo Douglas (iguana dive), Roca Redonda and Isla Pinzon
- 2 morning land tours to Santa Cruz and San Cristobal are also included
- All cabins are ensuite
- Complimentary local alcohol
- Ecuadorian and American main meal dishes
- Dive Alert, SMB, GPS for each buddy pair
- Steel mono-hulled boat
- Complimentary nitrox for EANx-certified divers
- Experienced English-speaking divemasters (up to 8 divers per DM)
- Maximum of 16 guests with 10 staff
Staff Choice – Nortada
- Cruises central Galapagos, Wolf & Darwin Islands, Punta Carrion, Cousin Rock, Cape Douglas, Punta Vincente Roca, Cape Marshall, Puerto Coca, Manta Ray City
- Land visit to Fausto Llerena Breeding Center and Charles Darwin Research Station.
- Maximum of 8 guests only, 7 crew
- 2 divemasters
- Cabins with private bathrooms
- Italian, international, and local main meal dishes
- Rebreather and technical diving support
- Nitrox available for enriched air certified divers ($150/7 day tour)
- Nautilus lost diver devices
- 2 motorized dinghies
Most Luxurious – Galapagos Aggressor III
- Cruises central Galapagos, Wolf & Darwin Islands, Baltra Island, Punta Carrion, Bartolome Punta, Cabo Marshall, Cabo Douglas, Punta Vicente Roca, Cousins Rock
- 2 land tours.
- All staterooms have ensuite bathrooms
- All cabins have TV and DVD
- Complimentary local beer and local wine
- Italian, Chinese, Japanese, and international main meal dishes
- Upper deck hot tub
- Nitrox fills for enriched air certified divers (7 nights $100)
- Experienced English-speaking divemasters (4-5 divers per DM)
- 2 camera tables plus special camera rinse tanks
- 9 crew for a maximum of 16 guests
- 2 motorized dinghies
7-10 Night Cruises – MY Galapagos Master
- 7 and 10-night visits to central Galapagos, Wolf & Darwin Islands, Isla Lobos, Punta Carrion, Seymour North, Mosqueras, Douglas Cape, Punta Vincente Roca, Punta Albermale, Roca Redonda, Cabo Marshall, Tagos Cove, Cousin’s Rock
- 2 land visits
- All cabins have private bathrooms
- Local Ecuadorian fare with Chinese, Italian, and international meals and the occasional BBQ
- Local brands of alcohol-free
- Steel-hulled boat
- 2 motorized dinghies
- Nitrox fills for enriched air certified divers – 7 nights – $150, 10 nights – $200
|Humboldt Explorer||Galapagos Sky||Nortada||Galapagos Aggressor III||Galapagos Master|
|Length||32 m||30 m||26 m||30 m||32 m|
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Feedback and Comments
I hope you found this post on Galapagos liveaboard scuba diving interesting and useful. If you have any questions or ideas, please feel free to share them in the comments section. I’d love to know of any experience you have. If there is no comments section directly below, click here: >>comments<<