Diving Live-aboard Galápagos Islands
The Galapagos Islands are the ideal diving destination for the more experienced divers. Our Galapagos Cruise & Dive live-aboard is entirely dedicated to scuba diving. On board a small yacht we will sail along the Galapagos Islands and visit different diving sites each day. With plenty of space on the deck, setting up diving gear is easy. After returning from a dive, expect a warm towel, use one of the showers, and relax at the lounge and bar area, which is directly connected to the dive deck. Divers with underwater camera equipment can use a custom-designed camera table and camera rinse tanks. During the entire voyage you will be accompanied by professional diving guides. Most dives are done as drift dives, where everyone rolls into the water together and the zodiac driver follows the bubbles along a predetermined route.
Galapagos marine life diving encountersAs you suit up and head out across open water to the dive site, you feel like you’ve just stepped into an early Jacques Cousteau documentary. The crystal-clear waters reveal a breathtaking range of the most exotic marine life.
There’s nothing like sliding into the water and swimming in a school of hammerhead sharks. At some sites, like the Northern islands of Darwin and Wolf, you can be caught in a huge school that seems to be unaware of your presence and just sweeps over you, wave after wave of hammerhead sharks. Divers regularly encounter squadrons of eagle rays flying by in close formation, as well as larger and more majestic manta rays. If we are lucky we might even encounter whale sharks.
Another highlight is snorkelling with the little Galapagos penguin. Fairly shy, they tend to avoid divers, but the sight of them “flying” through the water at great speed, using their stubby wings for propulsion in pursuit of prey, is comical and memorable.
There’s nothing like the cry of “whale!” to bring you flying up on deck, even from the deepest between-dive nap. Humpbacks, sperm whales and even orcas can be sighted as the vessel makes the passage from one island to the next. Huge schools of porpoise will divert from their route to frolic in the boat’s bow wave.
Advanced diving GalapagosGalapagos is known for its advanced diving, with water temperatures, currents and surges all posing potential challenges to the less experienced scuba diver. There are 2 seasons in the Galapagos Islands, wet and dry season. However these fade into each other, so diving conditions are generally good all year round. Water temperatures depend on time of year, location in the archipelago and the ocean currents. It can range from the upper 70s ºF to below 60º F (26ºC to below 16ºC), which is relatively cold for the equator.
Some of the islands you will visit during this voyage.
Baltra Island, Ecuador
Baltra Island, also known as South Seymour, is the gateway through which most people enter and depart the Galápagos Islands. Upon arrival and once through immigration procedures, visitors are transferred directly to a nearby dock to join the ship by zodiac. The runway was first constructed here during World War II when the island was used as a US Army Air Base. Located near the geographic center of the Galápagos, the island itself is small, flat and arid. Its dry environment hosts Salt bushes, Prickly Pear cactus and Palo Santo trees, all of which support land iguanas that can occasionally be seen crossing the runway.
Bahia Darwin, Genovesa, Ecuador
At Genovesa Island the ship tucks into Darwin Bay, an ancient volcanic crater now flooded by the sea. Zodiacs land on a picturesque sandy beach where Galápagos sea lions often rest on the fine, white sand. Explorations along the shore may reveal marine iguanas looking like prehistoric dinosaurs in miniature. By heading inland over a short distance, visitors could encounter seabirds of all shapes and sizes nesting in the vegetation. Scores of immature Red-Footed boobies perch on branches within an arm’s reach of the path. In addition, watch for Great Frigatebirds and Yellow-Crowned Night herons along the walk.
Rabida Island has received accolades for being one of the most exotic spots on earth and while it is small in size, the island is dramatic in scale. Rugged red cliffs rise from the sea and zodiacs land onto a beach of dark red sand colored by iron ore. Ghost crabs and Galápagos sea lion pups often rest on the russet sands. Further inland, the rusty sand gives way to shrubby coastal vegetation dominated by Prickly-Pear cactus. Common Cactus finches feed on the yellow flowers while Darwin finches and Lava lizards skitter across the path in search of food.
El Eden, Ecuador
Just off Santa Cruz, Eden Islet offers up a thick coastal mangrove forest growing on black volcanic boulders peppered with tall Prickly Pear cactus. Eden is a small, eroded tuff cone from an ancient volcano, and is an excellent example of the unique geology of the Galápagos. The shallow waters around the island are ideal for spotting Pacific Green sea turtles, Reef sharks, Eagle rays, sea lions, Marine iguanas and Sally Lightfoot crabs. Explore by zodiac or kayak, and watch for Brown pelicans flying and diving to scoop up their prey, while Blue-Footed boobies enter the water like torpedoes to spear small fish.
Punta Pitt, San Cristobal, Ecuador
On the northern shore of San Cristobal Island is a peninsula known as Punta Pitt. The point is made up of two coalesced volcanoes and is much younger than the rest of the island. Some of the lava flows are only a few centuries old. A zodiac landing on a sandy beach will lead to a long walk following a twisting red gravel path that runs through black basalt lava rocks, and between craggy peaks. The vegetation along the way is low and scrubby, and attractive blue-gray lichen grows on the rocks. Gaining elevation along the narrow trail will open up views of the Silver Galapagos sitting in a sapphire blue sea far below.
Gardner Bay, Ecuador
Isla Champion is a small islet off the Floreana Island’s northeast coast. To cruise by it reveals a bare, rocky island without much allure, but to enter the infinitely blue waters around this small landmass is to discover a spectacular underwater realm. The visibility is generally impressive and thanks to this water clarity snorkellers often spot Reef sharks patrolling the reef wall, cruising Pacific Green turtles, and playful Galápagos sea lions. Encounters in the blue ocean with thousands of small Silver minnows, large tuna fish, or Oceanic sunfish are not unheard of either.
Estacion Darwin & Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz, Ecuador
Silver Galapagos will anchor in front of Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz, where the prestigious Charles Darwin Research Station is located. The station also houses the Fausto Llerena Breeding Center for giant tortoises and land iguanas where guides interpret the center’s captive breeding and reintroduction programs. In addition to these star species, throughout the station there are huge Prickly Pear cactus trees being fed upon by the pretty Galápagos Cactus finch. To round out the stay in Puerto Ayora, enjoy free time in town where local artists have created charming art galleries and corner cafés.
More departure dates are available upon request. Please contact us for all available voyages!
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