For 4 years in a row (2000 - 2003) , Galapagos was rated as the #1 best overall dive destination in the world by Rodale's Scuba Diving Magazine's " Readers' Choice Awards"
Darwin island and Wolf island are probably the two best dive sites in the world but they are very far to the north (120 miles from the nearest other island) and no land excursions are possible up there. It takes approximately 15 - 20 hours of open ocean travel each way so any trip that includes them on the itinerary usually will spend at least 3 days up there. Therefore any trip which includes Darwin and Wolf islands will have very few land excursion available and will not visit as many of the islands as a trip which does not include them. These itineraries are not appropriate for non-divers.
There are two modalities for dive tours in Galapagos, live aboard dive tours and land based dive tours , here we give you an idea of both so you can make a decision before booking your dive tour in Galapagos.
LIVE ABOARD GALAPAGOS DIVE TOURS
Live aboard dive tours was the first modality of dive tours in the Galapagos islands , the dive yachts have always had a high standard making these dive cruises very comfortable and relaxing . Most of the dive tours go for a week which is a good ammount of time to dive as much as possible and travel further from the central galapagos islands such this way you can reach Darwin and Wolf which are probably the best diving in the world.The number of dives which are done on any trip to Galapagos depends on how much time you have to actually dive.
The amount of time available on any given day. The Galapagos Islands are located directly on the equator so the days in Galapagos are exactly 12 hours long every day all year long. The islands are far apart and there are many of them. There may be a two to three hour boat run between dive sites. Darwin and Wolf are 14 to 20 hours from the other islands depending on seas, wind and current. Most of this long run is done during the night but you still must leave the south by early to mid afternoon to get to Wolf by the morning.
Safety issues - You must have surface interval between dives. You must wait an hour or so after you eat before you dive. You must wait a minimum of 24 hour hours before flying and most yachts will not start the last daylight dive of the day after to 3:00 PM. This last rule is because there are very strong currents and the next nearest land is 4000 miles to the west. A lost diver at night is in serious trouble. If a diver is separated from the group (which is common) and the dive takes 1 hour, this give the crew 2 hours of daylight to find them.
Night diving is the exception rather than the rule. Remember that this is open ocean diving with strong currents. The main attraction is not reef but the pelagic large animals off the reef. A lost diver in Galapagos is a serious problem especially at night. Therefore night dives are done in coves and are not available on most nights.
To give you an idea of the number of dives, you can typically expect one or two dives plus one or two hikes plus snorkeling . At Darwin/Wolf you have time to make between 2 - 4 dives the first and last day up there depending on what time you arrive and what time you have to depart for the south. On days where you are there all day long you have time to make between 3 and 4. On a 7 night Darwin Wolf trip you will typically make between 16 to 20 dives.
LAND BASED GALAPAGOS DIVE TOURS
The second way to dive in the Galapagos islands is taking a land or hotel based tour,these kind of dive trips can be done from Puerto Ayora in Santa Cruz island which is the largest town in Galapagos and therefore has the most options ,but of course there are dive tours offered from Puerto Baquerizo Moreno in San Cristobal island and Puerto Villamil in Isabela Island.
These dive tours start very early in the morning , since they are done on fast boats mostly ,you can reach your dive site within a couple of hours,groups are small (from 4 up to 8 people normally) , you will be diving with a certified dive master / dive guide ,these tours have become very popular due to the big difference in price between them and the live aboard ones.
There are normally 2 dives a day with a break for a box lunch on the boat and maybe snorkeling, you can take as many days as you want starting from 1 depending on availability ,the dive sites are close to the port they leave from so there might be the chance to run into other dive groups.
The price also depends on the type of boat ,here we give you a sample idea of the types of boats running day dive tours in Galapagos ,they range from superior class , moderate price , and budget.
ECLIPSE (moderate price)
Enjoy daily diving-tours on our new cruising-boat Eclipse Yacht! This is a 14.60 m long and 6 m beam, especially constructed diving boat.
According to the Galapagos National Park Diving License It has a capacity of 8 divers and is designed to offer modern comfort and guarantee a safe and enjoyable trip for you and your family or friends. Non-divers are very welcome to accompany the divers and enjoy snorkeling at the dive-sites. Hot lunch, snacks between meals, cold and hot drinks are offered on board.
Equipped by 2 engines, one 40kw generator, Capitano Bauer Compressor on board, fresh water production (desalinization) Zodiac disembarkation boat for 10 passengers, first aid equipment, air conditioner and hot shower.
All of the trips are to the nearest islands of Puerto Ayora, where we can easily anchor and dive in 13 different dive sites.
NAUTILUS (superior class)
Nautilus is our beautiful and spacious pilot house motor sailor. Extremely comfortable and attractive, with rich teak paneling and furnishings. For total relaxation this sailing diving yacht is unbeatable for DAILY DIVING in the Galapagos Islands.
She accommodates eight passengers in four air conditioned cabins, each with double lower and single upper berths, private head and shower (hot and cold water). Bathrooms have stall showers and manually operated heads. There is plenty of hot and cold water for passenger use. Nautilus facilities include a dining area with two tables, and salon, TV, DVD a mini-library, and mini-bar and Sun deck.
Nautilus Yacht holds all necessary permits from National Park as diving operator in the Marine Reserve, and full fill all safety requirements from the Ecuadorian Navy: Life rafts, Hunter Satellite, Radio VHF, Radio HF, ecosounder, radar, EPIRB, bidirectional radio, Oxygen, and offers the necessary safety and comfort in navigation.
Diving is from an auxiliary soft boat Caribe 20 capacity per 10 divers. While diving, this boat is always on top of the divers, offering you safety and easy water entries and exits through the ample ladder.
Our crew has many years of experience in diving operations in Galapagos.
ANGELITA (budget class)
Most of the dayly dive tours in galapagos are done on samller speed boats ,these small dive boats are aprox. 10 meters long by 2.5 meters wide ,will carry a maximum of 8 people and have a general sitting area which can be a bit crowded considering that all the dive equipment is also there , however they have 2 large outboard engines making them very fast so that way you will reach your destination in a very short time.
The budget dive boats have a crew of 2 normally consisting of the captain and the dive gide ,this doesnt mean in any way that they are less safe than the higher priced dive boats. The ecuadorian navy which controls the marine operations in Ecuador has a high standard when it comes to safety on board.
On the budget class dive boats you will have two dives a day , they include all the necessary equipment for your galapagos tours dives and in between dives a box lunch is served and if there is enough time a snorkel is included.