Darwin and Wolf Islands are visited by an unprecedented variety of marine creatures each year. Sharks, humpback whales, whale sharks, dolphins, and an overwhelming crowd of tropical fish hold court amidst the coral reefs and volcanic cliffs.
The 15,000 square foot region of protected ocean reserve around Darwin and neighboring Wolf Island has the greatest concentration of sharks in the world, with 34 species living or visiting the Galapagos waters seasonally.
Darwin is a 400,000-year-old, extinct volcano. The top extends above land while the base starts 1000ft. below the ocean. Only live-aboard cruises visit the site, as on-land visits are off limits.
Darwin’s Arch is the island’s most popular dive site. It’s the place to see sharks in great numbers, sea turtles, dolphins, whale sharks, rays, and the reef fish that they feed on. Above the surface, frigatebirds nest and mate along the cliffs, inflating their red pouches to the size of basketballs to attract a mate’s attention.
Named for German scientist Theodor Wolf, who spent years in the islands, mapping, recording, surveying, and exploring-Wolf Island´s waters are one of the most bio-diverse and active in the islands.
Like Darwin Island, Wolf is the tip of an underwater, extinct volcano, and dates back millions of years.
Also like Darwin, Wolf is a marine-only site and is only visited on liveaboard cruises. There are a handful of dive sites that explore the underwater coral and volcanic shelves, caves, and cliffs and the amazing marine creatures that frequent the area.
Shark Bay, the Landslide, The Pinnacle, the Caves and La Banana are sites that many dive cruises visit during their time in the northern islands.
Shark Bay is a dive that starts with playful groups of sea lions and gradually changes to schools of hammerhead sharks, swimming in the fertile waters below 25 meters.
The Landslide, on the east side of the island, as its name suggests, is a descending slope with scattered boulders strewn across the sea floor. The field ends with a drop off that reaches 165ft.
The boulder field is another gathering point for schools of hammerhead sharks, as well as sea turtles, eels, and colorful reef fish that scatter and regroup before moving as one to the next destination.
The Pinnacle is one of the more challenging dives around Wolf Island. The dive is a drift dive that explores the area around a submerged pinnacle that’s tip is twenty feet below the surface, with the base at 120ft. marbled rays and underwater caves where white-tipped reef sharks dwell are among the most common marine creatures spotted in the area.
The strong currents that pass through the area around the Pinnacle can spin divers and spit them out on the other side of the formation, giving it the nickname, “The Washing Machine.”
This dive explores a small underwater cave, open at both ends-where sharks, rays, and a plethora of reef fish use the coral of the cave as a cleaning station.
Known by the locals as The Banana, this is a wall dive skirting outcrops like caverns, tunnels, and a pinnacle. The current is strong-and depths reach 120 ft. It´s a good place for seeing scalloped hammerhead sharks, sea turtles, sea lions, and the other usual characters of the northwest corridor of the Galapagos.
This is a channel dive between Wolf Island and Elephant Rock where hundreds of hammerhead sharks swim with sea turtles, lobsters, huge tuna, and a myriad of reef fish that frequent the area. Depths extend to 130 ft., and currents are strong-making the dive for experts with plenty of experience.
The Anchorage is a great place for night dives. Depths descend to 70 ft., the current is mild, and it’s frequented by sharks feeding during the evening.
Highlights of Darwin & Wolf Islands
- Diving with sharks, whales, dolphins, sea lions, and whale sharks
Note: All information is intended as a general guide of what you might be able to see or do on this island. In reality, wildlife sightings are by nature unpredictable, and activities may be subject to change by your guide or the National Park Authority.