Liveaboard trips are the only way to reach two of the Galapagos' most important diving highlights: Wolf Rock and Darwin. These are some 16 hours across the water from the rest of the islands and it is here where you will find some of the largest schools of Hammerhead Sharks you are likely to see anywhere in the world. This is also one of the best places in the world to dive with Whale Sharks of which Aqua-Firma clients have been lucky enough to see full grown individuals more than 15 metres in length.
There is a huge amount more to see at these dive sites and others, including manta rays, blue spotted rays, sealions, white tip sharks and Galapagos penguins. Our clients have even seen schools of dolphins underwater so large that they have been impossible to count in amongst the hammerhead sharks.
When to go
Hammerhead sharks aggregate in schools at Wolf Rock and Darwin throughout the year, but are usually seen in highest concentrations in the warmer season December to May when the water is usually lacking plankton - hence it is clearer. This is also the better time to see Giant Manta Rays and Sunfish. Manta rays are sometimes seen leaping high out of the water or swimming close to the surface - things you will only see if you stay out on deck between dives.
You are very likely to see whale sharks between June and October whilst your chances fall to about 50/50 between November and May. This coincides with a period when cooler plankton rich waters flow into the Galapagos, bringing with them large numbers of pelagic fish and whales too. It is this influx of fish that is essential to the survival of Galapagos penguins, flightless cormorants, fur seals and sealions. During El Niño years, the arrival of these cool currents can be delayed and shortened, meaning lean times for these species.
Galapagos sea temperatures are always cooler than you would usually expect on the Equator. They are at their warmest around the New Year with sea surface temperatures reaching about 23oC (73oF). They reach their coolest in August when sea surface temperatures drop to about 18oC (64oF). In both seasons, thermoclines can take temperatures down by as much as 5oC (9oF). Typical underwater wear would be a 7mm wetsuit with hood, but the ability to layer is useful since temperatures can vary considerably between the warmer north and colder south of the island group.
Special Shark & Photography Galapagos Liveaboard led by Dr Simon Pierce
Leading Whale Shark Researcher and Professional Photographer, Dr Simon Pierce, will be hosting our Special Shark & Photography Galapagos liveaboard timed to run during peak whale shark season in August 2019.
Simon conducts whale shark research throughout the world, including the Galapagos which is the best place to see huge pregnant and post-pregnant females. Joining this liveaboard will provide you with a unique opportunity to find out the very latest in whale shark research, as well as insights into other species of sharks and rays, plus local endemic species such as marine iguanas, Galapagos penguins and more. Onboard workshops will also provide you with the opportunity to learn how to get the best out of your underwater camera gear and how to use software to edit your prized images.
Dates 19 - 26 Aug 2019 (US$5,590) & 6 - 13 Sept, 2021 (US$5,690)
AQUA-FIRMA - for the Best of Above & Below Water Galapagos
Something to bear in mind when choosing a dive liveaboard trip which incorporates Wolf Rock and Darwin, is that your opportunities to explore on land will be much more limited than on a natural history yacht safari. Whilst on these trips you will be able to land and explore islands in the main island group, it is not possible to land at Wolf Rock and Darwin, so days spent here are very much dive focused and not recommended for accompanying non-divers. Aqua-Firma are experts at combining land and sea travel and we can help you to make up for this by arranging additional land or boat based exploration for you before or after your trip. The other alternative is to conduct a non-diving yacht safari in which snorkelling can be incorporated daily, whilst we arrange boat dives from a land base for as many days as you wish to extend your stay in the islands. Please contact us to discuss, or visit our Galapagos home page for an introduction to all of the kinds of trip we can arrange.
Motor Yacht Dive Liveaboards
Our partner liveaboards are well equipped with diving licenses to Wolf Rock and Darwin secured long into the future. These boats are large and comfortable, with plenty of space on deck and below. NITROX is available and scuba equipment and digital cameras are available for rental onboard. Each boat takes a maximum of 16 divers in deluxe and master suite cabins. 11 days: 8 days onboard plus 3 nights in Quito (or Guayaquil if you prefer).
Diving Experience Required for Galapagos
There are many levels of dive site around the Galapagos so it is worth discussing with us what kind of diving trip in the islands is right for you. Some sites offer reasonably confined water surroundings, whilst other can involve strong currents and thermoclines. The best is to Contact Us to discuss your recent diving experience. For clients who need some topping up, we regularly arrange land based diving prior to a liveaboard trip. Even experienced divers find this a great way to enjoy an even more rewarding dive liveaboard trip. To conduct liveaboard diving in the Galapagos, you will need to be the equivalent of PADI / NAUI / SSI Advanced or higher, with 30+ dives and plenty of dives conducted in the 12 months prior to your liveaboard trip.
Package of Ecuador mainland to Galapagos return flights, all transfers and 2 nights in Quito (or Guayaquil): from £790 / US$950
Departures available throughout the year.
Special Shark & Photography Dive Liveaboard led by Whale Shark Research expert & Photographer, Dr Simon Pierce
Dates: 19 - 26 Aug, 2019
7 - 14 Sept, 2020
6 - 13 Sept, 2021
Price: US$5,590 plus fuel surcharge (see below)
1.5 - 1.75 times the per person cabin price depending upon which vessel (please call to check).
If you are willing to share a cabin then there is no single supplement for the liveaboard section.
|Our liveaboard prices include
Galapagos diving liveaboard as indicated
Airport transfers in the Galapagos on the liveaboard start and end dates
Shore excursions and zodiac activities
All meals onboard vessels
Coffee, tea and water
Beer onboard (some motor liveaboard departures)
All boats are accompanied by English speaking naturalist guides who have been trained by the Charles Darwin Station and are licensed by the National Park.
A year's free membership of the Galapagos Conservation Trust (our donations go towards stamping out illegal fishing of sharks in the islands)
(*subject to availability)
Our prices exclude
Diving equipment rental
Hotels & airport transfers on the mainland
Galapagos National Park entrance fee - $100** per person to be paid in cash at the airport in Galápagos
INGALA Galapagos Immigration fee (US$20**)
Hyperbaric chamber fee of $35
Fuel surcharge (currently only applies to the Humboldt liveaboard ($150**)
(**correct at time of writing)