Diving in Galapagos
famous islands are almost the exclusive realm of liveaboards, and many sell out two years in advance. Especially during the hot season — May to November — for whale shark encounters off the famed Wolf and Darwin islands. But, this is what divers come to Galapagos to see: the big stuff. This includes whales, whale sharks, sea lions, huge aggregations of scalloped hammerhead sharks, manta rays, sea turtles, Galapagos, silky and other sharks, aggregating mobula rays and even penguins. And even though there’s a ton of fun little stuff like red-lipped batfish and sea horses, most of it gets overlooked on an average big animal excursion.
The cherry in any adventurous divers cap is the jaunt to what many consider the two best dive sites in the world, Wolf and Darwin, but the diving in the Galapagos is not for the faint of heart or divers still struggling with their overall comfort level in the water. Currents, some quite strong, are part of every dive. The water, although the Galapagos Islands straddle the equator, is temperate, even during the summer because of the Humbolt Current. Water temperatures range from 68°F to 77°F and visibility averages in the 30 to 80 foot range.
Although basking in the shadow of Wolf and Darwin, Galapagos’ list of world class dives extends beyond those. The sites of Gordon Rocks, North Seymour, Floreana and Cousins Rocks will also increase your dive swagger with the variety of thrilling encounters and marinelife, including sea lion rookeries, frogfish and massive shoals of schooling fish.
Passport and/or Visa Requirements
ENTRY REQUIREMENTS: All Americans are required to present a passport. U.S. citizens do not need to obtain visas. You will be required to pay a $100 park fee for diving. EXIT REQUIREMENTS: All persons leaving the Galapagos, pay a Government Departure Tax of approximately USD $20.
Vaccinations are not required for entry into Ecuador/Galapagos. Check with your doctor and the Centers for Disease Control on recommended vaccinations for travel at
Culture and Customs
If you come to Galapagos, your focus is more likely the flora and fauna of this UNESCO World Heritage Site. Only recently in terms of history have these islands been touched by the hand of human history, so other that fishermen and pirates and the lore that come with their lifestyle, these islands are ruled by nature. Culture as defined by the habits of unique animals that live here including the world’s only marine iguana, giant Galapagos tortoises, fearless blue-footed booby birds, sally lightfoot crabs and of course the famous finches that sparked Darwin’s theories on evolution. The volcanic landscape runs the gamut from desert-scape lava fields to cloud forests.
Electricity, Telephone and Internet Access
Electricity in Honduras is 110 volts, 60 cycles, so no adapter will be needed for US visitors. The country code for Galapagos is 593 and direct dial service is fast and clear. Check with your service provider for long distance/roaming information and costs. Internet service is sporadically available and some hotels offer it to their guests. Most main towns have internet cafes.
The water is safe to drink at the larger chain hotels, but it is recommended to drink bottled water while in Galapagos, especially in Guayaquil.
Language & Currency
Spanish is the official language, but English is widely spoken. The local currency is the US dollar, which Ecuadorian government adopted as its national currency in 2000.
The Galapagos observes Galapagos Time, referred to as GALT. It is 6 hours behind Greenwich Mean Time. The Galapagos Islands do not observe Daylight Savings Time.
History, Art, and Culture
First discovered by a lost Bishop of Panama, Fray Tomas de Berlinga, the islands appeared to him from a fog. The islands almost instantly became known as Las Encantadas, the Enchanted Isles, because they frequently disappeared in this same mist. Of course, word of any lonely outpost reaches the ears of pirates and privateers, and such famed brigands as William Dampier and Edward Davis used the island as a base to attack the Spanish. In the late 18th century, whalers arrived and it was reported by British whaler that there were so many whales that they would pass alongside from dawn to dusk. Darwin didn’t arrive until after the islands were under Spanish rule in 1835, and these islands have been in a scientific frenzy of study ever since. Read more about the history of the Galapagos here.
Location and Size
The Galapagos are and archipelago of islands on either side of the Equator in the Pacific Ocean. The islands are part of Ecuador and located 563 miles west of the mainland. There are 18 main islands each having a land area of at least 1 square Kilometer and some much larger. The islands include Baltra (8 square miles), Bartolome, Darwin, Espanola (23 square miles), Fernandina, Floreana (67 square miles), Genovesa, Isabela (1792 square miles), Marchena (50 square miles), North Seymour, Pinzon, Pinta (23 square miles), Rabida, San Cristobal (215 square miles), Santa Cruz, Sante Fe (9 square miles), Santiago (226 square miles) and Wolf. There are some minor islands as well, like Daphne Major, South Plaza Island, Nameless Island and Roca Redonda.
The population of the Galapagos Islands is slightly over 25,000. This does not include 1,800 temporary residents or 5,000 irregular residents.