Top 8 list of places to dive in the Galapagos Islands.
Scuba diving is one of the most exciting activities for those tourists aiming at extreme sports. This heart racing activity is performed for scientific studies as well as adventure sports.
Diving is a complex activity. It consists of fully submerging the body in water (Oceans, seas, rivers, lakes and/or lagoons). Whether this is performed with the help of specialized equipment and tools or without them; its main goal is to observe and explore the depths of the underwater worlds. The activity is practiced worldwide. However, the Galapagos Islands are, without a doubt, one of the best places to go diving. Its waters’ wildlife conditions support one of the world’s biggest, most complex ecosystems that present a marvelous sight for experimented and beginners in the diving world likewise.
The Galapagos Islands submarine life forms inspired scientists and even glob trotters ever since the lands where first recorded to be visited by the Spaniard conquistadors in 1535. The hunger for underwater discoveries lengthens the fascination for these enchanted islands. It is almost as if its visitors are under their spell that ignites a flame for exploration. Diving is, without a doubt, the most appropriate activity to understand, get to know and create a good memory of the intense, teeming with life, sprit of the Galapagos islands.
Sadly, it is not possible to visit every diving corner in the archipelago, we have written this blog with a built up list of the top 8 places to practice diving in the Galapagos islands.
There might be some readers who will have discrepancies with our selection. However, this is without a doubt, a great guide when it comes to choosing the diving sites for your trip.
- The Daphne Menor – Daphne Island
This beautiful place is ideal for advanced and beginner divers. The stream running alongside the canals of this island are not provided with strong currents. The divers can explore platforms, caves and marine walls. The most attractive aspecto of this place is how many benthic organisms inhabit the marine walls. It gives them somewhat of a marine garden look. Sea horses also inhabit the black corals in the reef: and sharks, green leatherback turtles and manta rays occasionally visit the spot.
- The Whale Sharks spot: Wolf Island
This is undoubtedly the most iconic diving place in the whole archipelago. This is the only area in which divers are able to swim alongside the famous gigantic whale shark. Dolphins, hammerhead sharks, and Galapagos sharks also inhabit the zone. The area is known for its strong currents, severe tidal waves and limited visibility. This island is recommendable only for expert divers. Additionally, Wolf Island only allows entrance to diving cruise ships that are specialized in this kind of adventure tourism.
- San Cristobal Island’s Kicker Rock
The abundance of sea lions, reproducing and thriving at the sea shores within a considerable colony of them is the most attractive aspect of this island. There are two species of South American sea lions and stingray species inhabiting the island’s shores and sea. It is an ideal place for scuba diving beginners as well as snorkel divers given the fact its sea has shallow Waters and greater visibility than other spots. Climate in the area has temperatures ranging from 10 to 26 Celsius.
- Santa Cruz Island’s Caamaño islet
This spot is provided with a huge population of adult and pup sea lions. This is exactly why it is also known as “La Lobería”. Divers will also swim alongside stingrays, marbled stingrays, reticulated whiprays, the great eagle rays, and even green and red leatherback turtles (specially in the eastern areas surrounding the islet). There is a high variety of species of fish. For beginners, it is recommended that they practice diving in the northern area of the islet because the other spots have dangerous cliffs with strong currents.
- Isabela Island’s Cape Marshall
Cape Marshall is distinguishable because of its volcanic stonewall that can be easily seen above sea level and plunges to the depths of the ocean. The diving spot is located within a soft current zone that allows the movement of big marine animals. The species of megafauna thrive at this diving spot. The amount and diversity of fish is quite high. Some of the fish inhabiting the zone are: convict surgeonfish, parrotfish, Moorish idol, Chinese trumpetfish, Cortez Sea chub, sailfin grouper, barred snapper, yellowfin surgeonfish, Golden puffer, spotted sharp-nosed puffer. You are going to be able to swim with schools of Golden snapper, grunting ray finned fish and golden blue snapper.
Due to the weather conditions at Cape Marshall constantly changing, the place is recommended for advanced and intermedium levels divers.
- Bartolomé Island’s Punta Bartolomé
This is one of the most biodiverse places of the archipelago. Here, you’ll be able to find Galapagos Islands’ classic fauna such as sea lions and turtles, fish, and iguanas, all swimming in the same waters. However, the main attraction of this spot has to be the Galapagos’ penguins’ colony that nests across the northern bay of the island. There is a resting and reproduction zone in front of the southern beach shore, where sharks roam (Diving and snorkel activities are banned in the area). The abundance of brightly colored corals in the reef makes this area an iconic one.
- San Cristóbal’s Cerro Tijeretas
This place is ideal for diving, even for beginners. Here it is possible to swim around with playful sea lions, Galapagos eels, green leatherback turtles, schools of fish and a ton of angel fish. You are also going to come into contact with hammerhead sharks, Galapagos sharks and silver finned sharks.
- Tortuga and Isabela Islands
This diving spot is located on the outskirts of Isabela Island. It is a great spot for medium expertise and advanced level divers. You are going to dive at depths of approximately 40 meters under water. In this place you are going to see Galapagos’ endemic submarine wildlife such as Galapagos’ sharks, grouper fish, stingrays, manta rays, hammerhead sharks, blue sharks, sea turtles, round ribbontail rays and even killer whales when you reach greater depths.
The stunning experience of diving in the Galapagos Islands is probably due to the fact that most animals do not fear the human visitors. There are strict laws in the Parks that do not allow tourists to touch, bother or stress local fauna. This has made travelers’ interactions with wildlife to be a more respectful one towards the animals. Consequently, animals are friendly and curious as long as tourists respect their boundaries. Diving alongside sea lions and blue sharks must be an unforgettable experience.
There is a huge variety of tours that fit every kind of traveler’s needs and expectations. The tours can even be modified according to your own, personal interests and plans. When it comes to diving, there are two ways to practice it at the Galapagos Islands. One is to go onboard a specialized, diving cruise ship. Whereas the other involves the planning of a hotel-based tour with hotels and resorts that offer daily diving trips. For you to be able to make up your mind between these two, the best thing to do is to choose which places you want to explore through diving.
Alex P. Rauff is an author, filmmaker and Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) specialized in film distribution and marketing of eco lodges throughout the world. His main focus remains on ecological conservation.