Galapagos Liveaboard

Imagine a dive below hundreds of hammerhead sharks, or a drift dive that takes you along a wall, then out over the deep and curves you back to a shallow reef.


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Quick Facts

  • The Galapagos Islands are among the most remote islands on Earth. Indeed, they are located about 604 miles (972 km) from the mainland. Their remoteness is part of what makes these islands special and pristine.
  • The Galapagos were never part of Pangaea, earth’s original supercontinent, and were always volcanic Islands. This explain the uniqueness of it’s flora and fauna, both on land and in the water.
  • The marine world of the Galapagos Islands is a cross-road between 3 major oceanic currents. Indeed, these currents, combined to the shallower waters (comparing to the surrounding deep ocean) are highly favorable to a dense and diverse marine life.
  • Some species exists only in the Galapagos Islands, such as the marine iguana. Other species have cousins in the world, but are behaving uniquely on the islands. Examples are he flightless cormorans or the penguins – they are among the smallest and they are the only penguins to live north of the equator.

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Best time to dive in the Galapagos

  • The waters of the Galapagos Islands are a unique mixture of warm and cold water, ranging between 65°F and 85°F, with thermoclines about 65°F.
  • January, February, March, April, May and June is considered the wet / rainy season. The weather pattern is mostly sunny days interrupted with brief but intense rains. The greater occurrences of Hammerhead sharks and Manta Rays happen from January to May and that has the calmest weather and seas.
  • July to December, known as “garua”, is the dry season. Visibility is lower during this time, however, it is still very good. This poorer visibility is because of increased nutrients in the waters. June to November are the peak months for the Whale sharks, which are attracted to the increased nutrients.
Galapagos Liveaboards Cruises

The Galapagos Island Archipelago represents some of the best, as well as the most unique, diving experiences in the world. Charles Darwin’s writings about this island chain, more than one thousand kilometers off the coast of Equator, told the world of the special magic of the place. As he wrote, the separation from the main land masses allowed the creation of species that evolved differently from their cousins and a number of species exist only here.

Another factor is the ocean currents. Three different ocean currents have their own influence on the seas around the islands and bring their own version of marine life to the Galapagos Island Archipelago. Scuba divers find that Galapagos Liveaboard dive trips are by far the best way for experienced divers to get the most out of diving the Galapagos Islands.

Most Galapagos Islands Liveaboards depart from the capital city San Cristobal, which is in the central islands. It is also the location of the primary airport. A few liveaboards depart from Baltra, which also has an airport. While these two airports are not a great distance apart, transportation between them is limited.

From San Cristobal or Baltra, the liveaboards head north to Wolf and Darwin Islands. These islands are around 350 kilometers away. Along the way, the liveaboards stop for dives. Due to the ocean currents, the diving conditions vary. Some locations will have temperate conditions with marine life suited for those waters, while a short distance away the waters may be tropical and have tropical marine life.

When the Galapagos Liveaboards reach the far northern islands, the Scuba divers experience diving like no other place in the world. Wolf and Darwin islands are fairly close to each other, and while they have some similarities they provide uniquely different dive experiences for the experienced Scuba diver.

Sharks are the most talked about stand out for these dive sites, there are hundreds of them and it is highly likely that on each dive you will see multiple species of sharks and in numbers that will make you dizzy as you try to count them. Hammerheads which are rare in most of the world, will normally be in the hundreds. Scientific studies have proven that the waters surrounding these two islands have the highest biomass in the world, more than double the second highest and ten times the biomass of the Great Barrier Reef or the Caribbean Sea. Biomass is an expression of the total weight of marine life in a column of water reaching from the bottom to the surface.

Itineraries and Schedules
Galapagos Liveaboards Itineraries

The itineraries for the Galapagos islands start at 8 day/ 7 nights and expand to 15 day/14 night trips. Ten day/ nine nights are also a common sailing. San Cristobal and Baltra are the two departure points that are used.

From there the liveaboards head north to the Wolf and Darwin Islands. Each liveaboard have dive sites they visit on the way to and from that area. Many of these in-route sites are only visited by one dive vessel. The Galapagos National Park Authority can tell the liveaboard captains which route to take during a trip, however, the captain selects the dive sites used. The liveaboards spend 2 days between Wolf and Darwin Islands. Seasonal differences is one of the factors.

Galapagos Liveaboard Schedule

Scuba diving the Galapagos is available year round, however, schedules vary during the year to adapt to diving conditions. The departure days are staggered. This is partially due to having 10 day departures and partially so that the liveaboards dive the northern region on different days.

Diving in the Galapagos northern area is for experienced divers. Most liveaboards will have a required minimum number of dives. Additionally most also do a check out dive to evaluate the divers skill. The dive masters can and will denied divers from tempting dives that the Divemaster feels is beyond their skill development.

Luxury Galapagos Liveaboard

Since you invest a great deal of time getting to this remote Archipelago and travel a great distance aboard the liveaboards to get to the even more remote Wolf and Darwin islands, it makes sense to do it in style and comfort. The Luxury Liveaboards of Galapagos Islands provide that combination of perfect diving sites, comfortable even luxurious accommodations and excellent food.

  • The 33m long MV Galapagos Sky is one of these Luxury Galapagos Island liveaboards. This yacht style diving liveaboard carries only 16 divers in 8 luxurious staterooms. The cabins are well equipped and spacious. The lounges and saloon are comfortable and have all the upscale feature you would expect from a luxury cruise. More information on the luxurious Galapagos Sky Liveaboard.
  • The Aggressor Fleet has been sailing in the Galapagos Islands since 1993. They have recently replaced Galapagos Aggressor I and Galapagos Aggressor II with the Galapagos Aggressor III. Like her older sisters the new yacht is of the same basic design that provides divers with a luxurious accommodations, uncrowded dive deck and spacious public areas including a hot tub.
  • The Galapagos Master is a 32m, steel yacht with 9 cabins for up to 16 guests. She is among the newest of the areas liveaboards. More information on the luxurious Galapagos Master Liveaboard.
  • MY Nortada Liveaboard is a new entry into the Galapagos Islands Liveaboard industry, however, she comes with a great deal of experience. The Nortada is owned by Rolf Wittmer Turismo Cía. Ltd., Which is a 100% Ecuadorian Family Company founded in 1982. The company is one of the leaders in tourism for the islands. The MY Nortada joins the company’s Tip Top Fleet which is luxury yacht charters. The Nortada carries only 8 divers in 4 staterooms, and has 2 dive masters giving it the best diver to divemaster ratio in the liveaboard world. There are 20 dives on the weekly trips and special departures for rebreather divers.
Budget Galapagos Liveaboard

Galapagos Liveaboard prices are slightly above your typical average. As fuel, most commodities and necessities need to be shipped into the Galapagos Islands it is not known as a cheap destination. Still you will find a few liveaboard operators that do provide a quality product that is comparable to budget prices elsewhere.

  • The 25m Astrea Liveaboard is a prime example of a quality Galapagos Liveaboard budget priced. The Astrea has recently been remodeled and had its name changed from the Pinguino Explorer to Astrea – Gala I .The bow shows the name Astrea. The Astrea provides a 8 day/7 night voyage alternating with a 8 day/ 7 night Naturalist cruise. The naturalist cruise is also available as either a 4 day/3 night or a 5 day/4 night segment. This is ideal for the diver who also would like to explore the wonders of the Galapagos islands above the water. Add a segment before or after your Galapagos liveaboard to truly explore the Galapagos Islands National park. Galapagos Liveaboard reviews always give this boat great reviews. More information on the Astrea Galapagos Liveaboard.
  • The 33m Humboldt Explorer, a member of the Explorer Ventures fleet is another outstanding Galapagos Liveaboard that while very comfortable is at the lower end of the Galapagos Liveaboard price scale. Humboldt Explorer provides it’s 16 divers with 8 air conditioned, double cabins each with an ocean view, private bathrooms and showers. More information on the Humboldt Explorer Galapagos Liveaboard.