Welcome of Sanctuary of Whales for scuba diving! Not only this honor, but Galapagos is entitled with many other credits such as ‘Reserve of a Biosphere’, ‘Natural Heritage’, and ‘One of the world’s 7 underwater wonders’. By just reading these titles, a diver is easily convinced to at least experience Galapagos scuba diving once in life time. Further, fantastic reef, fish, golden as well as sting rays, sea lions, eagle rays, turtles, invertebrates, blue runners, bacalao, marine iguanas, garden eels, hammerheads, white tip reef sharks, whale sharks, almaco as well as blue jacks, pelagic fish, and whales – all contribute towards the memorable Galapagos scuba diving.
It should not surprise you as to why this island has been voted as among the top diving sites of the year. Actually, today, only handful of sites are left where a complete archipelago is almost free of commercial water activities leaving the waters only for the wildlife, swimming, and diving to unfold the pristine and deep life of an ocean.
Most of the divers here go for liveaboards as they facilitate maximizing time for memories on land as well as at sea. At Galapagos, the dive sites are in proximity and so many even take a tour after dinner giving you a chance to stay a night at new anchorage daily. Each of the islands here is full of many dive sites and thereby distinct experiences. Although Galapagos scuba diving is for beginners, I would say that it is mostly intermediate to advanced divers particularly in some areas. Before diving, do always visit a dive shop where an expert can tell you about the current diving conditions as well as recommend some easy diving sites if you are a beginner besides giving you suits and gears. Galapagos is just one of the top places in the world for a PADI certificate.
Galapagos scuba diving conditions range from medium to tough taking into account the depth, tides, fauna, temperatures, and the shape of the sites. The sea surface temperature ranged from 18ºC to 30ºC. Coldest months are September to November; while hottest ones are February to April. Expect medium (1 to 4 miles per hour) to strong (over 4 per hour) currents while diving here. If at all you are caught in a current, do not panic, rather relax and look for a boat. Group people must come close enough for fighting against the current. From July to December, from the southeast, expect the Humboldt current; while from January to June, the northeast Panamá current is common.
Coming to the visibility aspect, expect that from 50 to 80 feet in a majority of sites. At some places, the plenty of phytoplankton that is an algae, makes the waters green. One more important point is that many Galapagos Islands feature drift dives where you enter with a group to get drifted down the current. In case of medium currents, do not be at the surface for over a few seconds prior to descending. Deep diving is also famous at many sites where you can go over 20 to 60 feet down. Always go for the deepest dive first and avoid repetitive deep dives.
If you want to experience night diving, that too is possible here, but with no drift and no deep. The guide will suggest you a place with no current and where you can easily spot nocturnal crabs, fish, starfish, sea cucumbers, and more. The most admired feature of Galapagos scuba diving at night is the presence of fluorescence in the initial few meters. It will make you feel as if you are in a watery sky of stars. Take up a fluorescent dive with fur seals, turtles, and such other animals that are visible in dark. Some of the best diving sites are at Santa Cruz Island for experts, Santa Fe Island for beginners, Floreana Island for all levels, Gordon Rocks, and Darwin & Wolf.
Tip: Never touch any animal or flora as that might result in biting or stinging.