Gearing up for a diving vacation in the Galapagos Islands means finding an itinerary that takes you to the far reaches of the archipelago. A handful of boats operate live aboard dive cruises-arriving at Darwin and Wolf Islands in the northwest where the underwater marine life amazes divers from all over the world. Keep reading for a short guide to the boats and the options they offer for discovering the Galapagos Marine Reserve for yourself.
There are a few things to keep in mind when choosing an itinerary that is right for you on a Galapagos liveaboard cruise. One is that depending on the time of year, the itineraries can change. During June through December when the waters are cooler-there is a massive underwater ecosystem in full effect that includes sharks, whales, dolphins and a myriad of other creatures that congregate around the western islands of Darwin and Wolf.
From January through May when the waters are warmer, there is a different crowd in residence. The changes in itineraries reflect the natural cycle of marine life and the conditions. Out of four dives in a day, you could do two in the morning and two in the afternoon- or two-morning dives, one in the afternoon and one at night.
Another thing to take into account is the rules of the Galapagos National Park. All boats operate under a set of guidelines that protect the islands by limiting when and where they can visit during a specific time frame.
Liveaboard dive cruises normally last eight days-giving you ample time to log more than twenty dives at some of the most exotic sites in the ocean. Places like Darwin’s Arch, Cousins Rock, Shark Point, and Bartholomew Point open up very real possibilities of swimming with large groups of hammerhead sharks, dolphins, whale sharks, sea turtles, and huge sunfish amid the other creatures of the archipelago. A normal eight-day route spends more time in the west while making stops at popular sites in the central islands.
The cruises that Happy Gringo Travel works with, all carry 16 guests, crew, and dive guides who are required to accompany during your time in the water. There are well-rounded groups of boats to choose from.
The Aqua Yacht
The Aqua yacht is a boat that offers quality and value diving-spending part of its time on naturalist tours and eight days throughout the year taking passionate divers on excursions in the central and northern islands.
One instructor guide and one Dive Master guide show you the nooks and crannies of the underwater volcanic landscape in the islands, while eight crew members man the helm onboard. Amenities include a sundeck, lounge, bar, and solarium.
The Sky Yacht
The Sky yacht is a luxury boat that has two dive masters and a crew of nine who take special care to make sure all is well onboard and below the sea. Elegant rooms, sweeping views from social areas, and great food make this a boat for those who want the comforts of a five-star hotel and the adventure of four dives a day at the marine life hotspots in the islands.
The Calipso Cruise
In the comfortable class of yachts in the Galapagos Islands, the Calipso yacht was refurbished in 2019, offering new furnishings for comfort inside and state of the art platforms for diving as well. The crew of eleven and their level of attention make trips on this boat an immersion into both cruising in the islands and exploring the cliffs, caves, and cleaning stations beneath the sea.
Amenities include a bar, lounge, and sundeck, and a library.
The Humboldt Explorer
The Humboldt Explorer yacht, so named for the Humboldt Current that holds sway between June and December, is another option for those who want comfort, class, and adventure. Amenities include rooms with private bathrooms and flat screen televisions, a Jacuzzi, and a spacious lounge and sundeck.
Aggressor III Dive Yacht
The Aggressor III yacht takes diving to another level and is considered among the best of the luxury dive boats in the archipelago. Its amenities include well-appointed staterooms, a hot tub, sundeck, BBQ area, and hammocks for relaxing after big diving days. In addition to providing top service on board, they also offer rental dive gear for exploring the water.
The undersea landscape of the Galapagos Islands is a world of volcanic cliffs, walls, caves, and trenches. The currents can be strong-some sites have nicknames like “the Washing Machine,” for their ability to take divers and spin them around and put them at another place entirely. While this world fascinates those who make the journey, it is recommended that you have the experience to navigate the tides.
For those that want to combine time exploring the natural wonders and wildlife above water as well as below, Happy Gringo Travel has a variety of day tours to popular dive sites where sharks, penguins, turtles, flocks of rays, and clouds of fish are at arm’s length. For more information about your options for live-aboard dive cruises, Galapagos land tours, and day dive tours during different times of the year, please feel free to contact a member of our team.