Diving in the Galapagos Islands is probably on the bucket list of every avid diver.
Located off the coast of Ecuador, the Galapagos Island Archipelago is a place that is so rich in both land and marine animals. The animals here are so diverse and abundant that it popularly even inspired the theory of evolution.
Given its abundant natural resources, the Galapagos Islands, including the marine reserve, is listed as a Unesco World Heritage site which limits travelers to only exploring these parts on a liveaboard.
Liveaboards in the Galapagos Islands visit two of the thirteen large islands, Darwin and Wold. Here, divers can swim in awe around large schools of hammerhead sharks, manta rays, pods of dolphins, and whale sharks. Not to mention the marine iguanas, other species of sharks, and penguins.
To help you choose between the Galapagos liveaboards, we’ve put together this comprehensive list of liveaboard reviews and popular scuba dive sites.
- 1 Our Top Galapagos Liveaboard Picks
- 2 Galapagos Liveaboard Reviews
- 3 Galapagos Liveaboard Diving Highlights
- 4 Galapagos Diving: What You Need to Know
- 5 Best Diving Itineraries in the Galapagos Islands
- 6 Best Dive Sites Around the Galapagos
- 7 How to Get to the Galapagos Islands
Our Top Galapagos Liveaboard Picks
Galapagos Liveaboard Reviews
Rooms: 8 cabins / AC
Price Range: from €474/day
The Humboldt Explorer is one of the most affordable Galapagos Liveaboards, but that doesn’t mean that it lacks quality. This spectacular 33m ship takes divers to some of the best dive sites in the Galapagos where you can immerse yourself in schools of sharks, tuna, manta rays, and white tip sharks.
It offers 8 air-conditioned cabins, all equipped with TV and DVDs. When you’re not diving, soak in their jacuzzi situated on the sundeck. Designed with premier diving in mind, the MV Humboldt has a large dive station, takes, weights, rental equipment, as well as proper camera and rinse tables.
With cruises running 8 nights long, this is one of your best options when choosing a Galapagos liveaboard.
What’s Included: VAT, Accommodation, Tanks, Weights, Belts, All Meals, Alcoholic beverages
Click the button below to learn more and check the prices and availability for the Humboldt Explorer.
Rooms: 4 cabins / AC
Price Range: from €546/day
If you’re looking for a Galapagos Liveaboard adventure holiday which caters to smaller groups, the Nortada is a great option, offering you a more intimate and private experience.
Each cabin has lockers and drawers for storing personal belongings as well as air-conditioning. Guests can lounge and dining area equipped with an entertainment system or in the open area and sundeck.
Aboard the Nortada, divers can go on at least 20 dives per week around the famous Wold and Darwin islands as well as other dive sites north of the archipelago.
Safety is of primary importance which is why each diver is given a marine radio with GPS, dive alert and DSMB.
What’s Included: VAT, Accommodation, Tanks, Weights, Belts, Dive Master Services, All Meals
Click the button below to learn more and check the prices and availability for the Nortada.
Rooms: 9 cabins / AC
Price Range: from €592/day
This 32m luxury liveaboard yacht shows you the best of the Galapagos Islands while giving you comfort and relaxation.
Each cabin is well decorated, complete with a wardrobe and en-suite bathroom. There is a spacious indoor lounge area as well as a deck with a full entertainment system. The outer deck has a cocktail bar where guests can unwind after a full day of spectacular diving.
The dive deck is ample and spacious, leaving you room for all your equipment. It also has warm showers, rinse tanks, plus camera tables. Offering 7-10 night luxury cruises, you can dive up to four times a day during your liveaboard trip.
What’s Included: VAT, Accommodation, Transfers/pickups from airport, Tanks, Weights, Belts, All Meals
Click the button below to learn more and check the prices and availability for the Galapagos Master.
Rooms: 8 cabins / AC
Price Range: from €590/day
As part of the Aggressor fleet, this 32m luxury liveaboard offers year-round diving around the Galapagos Islands. Offering up to four action-packed dives and two-night dives, guests are able to make the most out of their time in the Galapagos.
You can relax on the large sun deck equipped with sun loungers and deck chairs, as well as a hot tub. The Galapagos Aggressor has a large swim platform, air/nitrox fill stations, as well as proper shower and camera areas.
Alcoholic beverages such as wine and beer are also served complimentary to guests. This liveaboard is very well-rated and is a popular choice.
What’s Included: VAT, Accommodation, Complimentary toiletries, Tanks, Weights, Belts, All Meals
Click the button below to learn more and check the prices and availability for the Galapagos Aggressor.
Rooms: 8 cabins / AC
Price Range: from €673/day
This 33m luxury liveaboard yacht is your top choice if you want to discover the Galapagos in style. Offering lavish cabins, lounge areas, plus a stylish deck, guests can fully relax and enjoy after doing a full day’s dive.
Two dive masters are available on board, all very familiar with the underwater conditions. The Galapagos Sky has a large dive platform which has ample room and gear storage. Nitrox is provided for free for guests.
Apart from this, you can enjoy buffet-style local and International fare as well as complimentary alcohol throughout your trip.
What’s Included: VAT, Accommodation, Complimentary Toiletries, Transfers/pickups from Airport, Tanks, Weights, Belts, Divemaster services, All Meals, Alcoholic Beverages, Free Nitrox, Towels Provided
Click the button below to learn more and check the prices and availability for the Galapagos Sky
Rooms: 8 cabins / AC
Price Range: from €455/day
This 36m vessel was custom built for exploring the Galapagos. It can house up to 16 guests in 8 spacious en-suite staterooms. After an exciting day underwater, you can relax on the main deck where there’s a dining area, bar, and entertainment. Or you could lounge on the sun deck and enjoy the beautiful Galapagos scenery.
The dive deck on the Majestic Explorer is well-equipped with tank ranks, a nitrox filling station, and amenities for underwater photographers such as a camera recharging station and a dedicated underwater camera rinse tank.
Throughout your trip, all your meals are taken care of, including snacks and complimentary wine served during dinner.
What’s Included: VAT, Alcoholic Beverages, Drinking Water, Soft drinks, Tea & Coffee, Full-Board Meal Plan (All meals), Snacks, Diving Package, Nitrox, Cabin Towels, Deck Towels.
Click the button below to learn more and check the prices and availability for the Majestic Explorer
Rooms: 8 cabins / AC
Price Range: from €232/day
Looking for a combination of diving and naturalist activities? The Aqua liveaboard offers this unique mix which allows you to experience the best of the Galapagos both in and out of the water.
This 26m boat can accommodate up to 16 guests in its 8 en-suite cabins. With a nearly 1:1 ratio of crew to guests, you can be assured you’ll have a great liveaboard experience. The social areas on the boat include an indoor lounge, library and bar as well as two lounges on the upper deck and a sun deck.
Their dive deck has fresh water showers. They also have a shaded diving area and nitrox is available. While onboard, you’ll enjoy buffet-style meals featuring local cuisine.
What’s Included: VAT, Accommodation, Tanks, Weights, Belts, Divemaster services, All Meals Including Snacks, Welcome Cocktails, Towels Provided
Click the button below to learn more and check the prices and availability for Aqua.
Rooms: 10cabins / AC
Price Range: from €528/day
Described as a “first-class yacht,” the 31.5m Blue Spirit has both diving and naturalist itineraries for the Galapagos Islands.
It has 10 en-suite cabins for up to 16 guests, and guests can select from twin, double, or triple bedding. When not in the water, you can relax in the indoor lounge, bar, or library, or soak up some rays on their sun deck.
Meals onboard the Blue Spirit are served in buffet-style and range from international cuisine to Ecuadorian cuisine — all freshly prepared.
During your liveaboard, the Blue Spirit 8-man crew will care for your needs and ensure that you have the best time.
What’s Included: VAT, Fuel Surcharge, Port Fees, Accommodation, Complimentary Toiletries, Tanks, Weights, Belts, Divemaster services, All Meals Including Snacks, Welcome Cocktails, Wine with Dinner, Towels Provided
Click the button below to learn more and check the prices and availability for the Blue Spirit.
Rooms: 5 cabins / AC
Price Range: from €354/day
With occupancy for 10 guests, the Danubio Azul is ideal for small group charters. Out of their five cabins, there is one with a double bed, one with twin beds, and three with bunk beds. Each cabin has its own private bathroom.
Their knowledgeable dive masters will guide you on your diving expeditions, and wetsuits, diving tanks, and weights are included in your package.
Onboard the Danubio Azul, you’ll enjoy al fresco dining and local cuisine. When not diving or enjoying other activities, you can lounge on their leisure deck and take in the stunning Galapagos scenery.
Included: VAT, Fuel Surcharge, Drinking Water, Tea & Coffee, Welcome Cocktails, Full-Board Meal Plan (All meals), Snacks, Diving Package, Land Excursions, Naturalist Guide, Snorkeling Guide, Beach Towels, Cabin Towels.
Click the button below to learn more and check the prices and availability for the Danubio Azul.
Galapagos Liveaboard Diving Highlights
There is literally nowhere else in the world where you can swim with hundreds of hammerhead sharks, whale sharks while spotting some penguins and marine iguanas. Nowhere. The entire marine reserve is free of commercial fishing, allowing you access to some of the most pristine reefs imaginable.
An amazing 20% of the marine life found in the Galapagos can only be found here! This alone is enough reason why you should explore its rich waters.
Due to the remoteness of the Galapagos Islands, liveaboard boats are the best way to discover the region. Staying on the boats will allow you to reach the dive sites at their peak time, giving you what I would claim, one of the best dive experiences of your life.
A few of the popular must-visit dive sites that the liveaboards will visit are El Arco in Darwin Island. Here, expect to find schools of hammerheads, whale sharks, eagle rays, as well as Galapagos and silky sharks.
The currents are strong so usually, you hook yourself in and watch the large creatures swim around you. It is truly a spectacular sight.
Other sites not to be missed are Gordon Rocks, Tijeretas Hill for sea lions, and Shark Point. Tortuga Island is for more intermediate divers who are ready to face the deep drift walls plunging down up to 40 meters, or 131 feet. Some divers have been lucky enough to spot an Orca from this spot.
Apart from the fantastic diving, the Galapagos also offers some of the best non-diving wildlife adventure cruises due to the vast amount of animals seen on the islands. From giant tortoises to various species of birds, it is a fantastic place teeming with wildlife.
Your Galapagos liveaboard experience may also include some fun shore excursions such as the Charles Darwin Research Station and visiting Santa Cruz island to see its resident giant tortoises.
Galapagos Diving: What You Need to Know
Best Time to Go Diving in the Galapagos
While diving is possible all year round, but it can get slightly cold at times.
The warmer seasons are from December to May where you can find calmer conditions and currents.
Coldest months are from June to November where the sea conditions can get a little bit rougher and challenging. Whale sharks often grace the presence during the cooler season.
Most of the liveaboards run tours and cruises all-year-round. 7mm wetsuits during the colder season is recommended.
Galapagos Diving Safety
Due to its location, the Galapagos is an intersection for several ocean currents which is why the marine life here is so vibrant and alive.
In some areas, currents can be very strong and surface conditions can get choppy, depending on the time of the year. Descending currents may be encountered at some sites along vertical walls.
Due to the complexity of some dive sites, diving in the Galapagos is best suited for experienced divers. However, with that being said, as long as you communicate any troubles with your divemasters, they can give you the appropriate guidance when necessary.
A good practice is to ensure that you always have a neon dive flag or collapsible pole stowed in your BC pocket in case of the current sweeps you astray. Reef hooks and gloves are also advisable due to the strong currents.
For peace of mind during your diving adventures, we recommend having dive insurance in case of any medical emergencies.
Best Diving Itineraries in the Galapagos Islands
Short Galapagos Liveaboard Trips
Given how remote the Galapagos Islands are and the wealth of diving that is available, you can expect to spend about a week in the area even on a short trip.
Most liveaboard operators offer an 8-day itinerary, which means that you get to enjoy 6 full days of amazing diving in this beautiful region. The classic 8-day itinerary will take you to the best that the Galapagos has to offer, including the best dive seats in the area.
Liveaboards will typically offer 3 to 4 tanks per day, and you’ll also get 2 shore excursions as well. It’ll be a trip to remember!
Extended Galapagos Liveaboard Trips
If you have more time on your hands, go for the full Galapagos experience with an extended liveaboard trip. Selected Galapagos liveaboards offer an 11-day experience that is perfect for serious divers or underwater photography enthusiasts.
The additional days onboard give you the chance to spend more time on the islands of Darwin and Wolf, which offer some of the most exciting diving in the region. With more time underwater, you’ll have the opportunity to spot all the famous species in the Galapagos. Your trip will also likely include another shore excursion as well.
If you’re choosing an extended liveaboard trip in the Galapagos, be sure to take into account the area remote’s location and pack adequately.
Search for your dream Galapagos liveaboard now!
Best Dive Sites Around the Galapagos
Located four hours north of Wolf Island, Darwin Island is a must-visit on a liveaboard diving trip. The easily-spotted Darwin Arch makes the spot to arguably one of the best diving sites in not just the Galapagos but the world.
At Darwin Island, you’ll encounter a wide variety of marine life with occasional appearances by dolphins and whale sharks. Your best chance to encountering a whale shark is the late summer, fall, and early winter when they arrive in this area to feed.
Most liveaboards spend at least one day here, allowing divers to explore the area. For more time in this beautiful dive site, you’ll want to select an extended trip that can provide 2 full days at Darwin Island. Unpredictable surface conditions and strong currents mean that this site is not recommended for novice divers.
Cape Marshall, Isabela Island is another location that’s only accessible via a liveaboard diving trip. Its strong currents mean that it’s recommended for advanced divers, but it’s well worth the effort if you have enough experience under your belt.
Formed by a wall of volcanic rock that goes deep into the sea, the Cape Marshall dive site provides you with opportunities to swim with manta rays, large schools of fish and, if you’re lucky, you’ll spot some hammerhead sharks or Galapagos black-striped salema.
Another cool dive spot around Isabela Island is Redonda Rock, known for its volcanic fumaroles and being home to some unique macro life not seen elsewhere.
Santa Cruz and San Cristobal
Known for the various dive sites in the areas, Santa Cruz and San Cristobal islands are on the itinerary of every liveaboard. With a wide range of dive sites available, it’s an ideal diving spot for both novice and experienced divers.
Based on the experience level of the divers on the boat, your liveaboard will choose the sites best suited for its passengers. The easy dive sites for great as introduction dives. Easy doesn’t mean unexciting though; even at these sites, you could spot Galapagos sharks and schooling reef sharks.
Photographers will love the area outside Academy Bay in Santa Cruz which is teeming with animal life such as seahorses, batfish and marine iguanas.
Advanced divers can get a thrilling experience at Gordon’s Rock, which is famous for its strong and unpredictable currents. It’s the most visited site in this area, as divers can easily spot hammerhead sharks, stingrays, turtles, and mobulas. If you’re an experienced diver, this is a dive site not to be missed!
One great reason to choose a Galapagos liveaboard diving experience is that it’ll take you to places you otherwise couldn’t reach. Wolf Island is one of those places.
The waters around this small, uninhabited island is home to a wonderful array of marine life such as dolphins, hammerheads, and thousands of reef fish. The true prize, however, is that Wolf Island offers you the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity of swimming alongside whale sharks!
As the currents at Wolf Island can be unpredictable and strong, diving here is best suited for advanced divers.
How to Get to the Galapagos Islands
From there, you can fly to Baltra Island Airport. Most of the liveaboards will have staff ready to meet you at the airport so you can immediately get situated and started on your exploration.
Other additional charges are:
- Galapagos National Park Tax – $100 (cash only, payable upon arrival at Galapagos Airport)
- a Tourist card – $20
There you have it! Hopefully, this article has helped you compare these Galapagos liveaboards and find a suitable one for you.
For those looking for last-minute deals, liveaboard.com offers greatly discounted prices which are worth checking out. Happy diving!
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