Scuba Diving and Snorkeling in the Galapagos
The Galapagos Islands are among the top diving and snorkeling sites in the world for a reason: the diversity of the underwater creatures you see rivals the number of rare, land-loving wildlife you’ve heard so much about. In fact, nearly 20% of the marine life thriving in the Galapagos and 35% of the marine invertebrates in the waters of these thirteen islands are found nowhere else in the world.
Taking a Galapagos Dive Trip: Geography Is Everything
The unique diversity of fish exists because three different ocean currents converge in the Galapagos. Currents from the southeast and west carry super cold water to the area, and currents flowing from the northeast bring warm water. That meet-up of currents creates varied underwater ecosystems. Divers may be surrounded by tropical species of fish one day and sub-Antarctic varieties on another.
Beneath the surface are a variety of coral reefs, steep cliffs, volcanic peaks, and sub-marine mountain ridges, all of which also contribute to the unusual ecosystems around the islands. And then, of course, there are the deep ocean waters a bit further out.
It’s not unusual for deep divers to be surrounded by schools of hammerhead sharks and surprised by whale sharks, the largest fish found anywhere on earth.
Snorkelers not only swim through a colorful mix of butterflyfish, parrot fish, and angel fish, blue-footed boobies and marine iguanas diving for lunch will also entertain them.
For a complete list of fish possibilities in the Galapagos, visit FishBase. This extremely wide variety of marine life surrounding the islands makes taking a Galapagos Dive Trip a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Scuba Diving in the Galapagos
Diving here is not for the faint of heart or the inexperienced. The currents are quite cold and strong and the deep-water fish are, well… very deep. This is not the place for “resort” divers or those newly certified in a swimming pool. Rather, one must have proof of PADI certification and a willingness to be honest about his or her experience in deep water dives. If you’ve not done it before, stick to snorkeling. There are still plenty of amazing fish to see in shallower waters.
For those who are comfortable in challenging waters, there are several options for taking a Galapagos dive trip:
- Ships that offer occasional diving, meaning that on a weeklong cruise, divers will go out on several immersions.
- Few boats offer combined snorkeling and diving options, but if you want to do both, be sure to check that the ship you choose can accommodate your preferences.
- Liveaboard ships are at sea for the entire week and travel to some of the more remote waters for one or two dives each day. Most also have Zodiacs to ferry you from one area to another, supply or rent assorted scuba equipment, and may have underwater cameras. All have experienced dive masters on board.
Snorkeling in the Galapagos
There’s no end to possibilities for snorkelers. If you are overnighting at hotels, you can take day trips to snorkeling areas. Visitors on cruises are given ample opportunity for snorkeling in waters where fish are abundant, and most rent all the equipment you may need, including a “shortie” wetsuit.
Nevertheless, we suggest that you invest in a mask that fits well since the ones provided on the ship are not necessarily one-size-fits-all. If you’re buying one, check out the newer full-face masks with the snorkel attached. We also suggest that snorkelers, especially children or weak swimmers, wear a life vest for extra security.