Much like the revolutionary scientific idea it’s become synonymous with, the Galapagos Islands may inspire you to think differently about the world. You can’t help thinking you have stumbled upon an alternate universe, some strange utopian colony organized by sea lions – the golden retrievers of the Galapagos – and arranged on principles of mutual cooperation.
Endowed with swift currents along its coasts, an exquisite geographical location and a truly remarkable biodiversity, the Galapagos Islands is well-renowned for its Enchanted Islands.
The Galapago Islands are an archipelago of volcanic islands distributed around the equator in the Pacific Ocean, 972 km (525 nmi) west of continental Ecuador, of which they are a part.
The Galapagos Islands and its surrounding waters form an Ecuadorian province, a national park, and a biological marine reserve. The principal language on the islands is Spanish. The islands have a population of slightly over 25,000.
The Galapagos Marine Reserve is one of the largest and most biologically diverse marine protected areas (MPAs) in the world. The MPA covers 133,000 square kilometers (51,352 square miles), surrounding the Galapagos Islands in the eastern Pacific Ocean, about 1,000 kilometers (600 miles) off Ecuador’s coast.
Besides its geographic profile, particularly that of a prominent group of islands dotted with volcanoes and lying west of Ecuador, great diving opportunities await a recreational diver in its many dive spots.
There are 13 main islands, 3 smaller islands and 107 rocks and islets (very small islands) that make up the Galapagos Island. Baltra (South Seymour) Island, Bartholomew Island, Darwin (Culpepper) Island, Espanola (Hood) Island and Fernandina (Narborough) Island are among the best places for scuba diving.
Each island provides several dive sites and unique experiences. The conditions can be iffy: The water can be cool and murky, the currents and surge can be unpredictable. But one thing’s for sure: This is truly one of the most exciting advanced dive destinations in the world.
In fact, CEDAM International declared it as one of the seven underwater wonders of the world. CEDAM International; the American Diving Association chose the Galápagos Islands to be one of their seven wonders of the underwater world because their aim for this project was to protect underwater structures that needed preserving.
So looking for a new place with refreshing sceneries to enhance your scuba diving vacation?
Here are a few of what you will find in a Galapagos Islands scuba diving adventure.
Sanctuary to the World’s Most Endangered Species
The Galapagos Islands is the only known habitat of Galapagos Tortoises. They are named as such since their shells resemble a Spanish saddle (galapago).
The Galapagos tortoise or Galapagos giant tortoise (Chelonoidis nigra) is the largest living species of tortoise and 10th-heaviest living reptile, reaching weights of over 400 kg (880 lb) and lengths of over 1.8 meters (5.9 ft). With life spans in the wild of over 100 years, it is one of the longest-lived vertebrates. A captive individual lived at least 170 years.
As part of Ecuador’s National Park System, the archipelago is recognized as home to a great diversity of endemic species including marine iguanas, blue and red-footed boobies, swallow-tailed gulls, Galapagos penguins, pink flamingos and hood mockingbirds.
The government of Ecuador has designated 97% of the land area of the Galapagos Islands as the country’s first national park. The remaining 3% is distributed between the inhabited areas of Santa Cruz, San Cristobal, Floreana and Isabela.
Meanwhile, the mangrove forests dotting the islands are now preserved by way of marine sanctuary protection. Galapagos is one of the few places in the world that upholds an extensive preservation of nature; given the deep-seated environmental efforts expended by locals to make it as one of the world’s biodiversity sanctuaries.
A Wonderful Nature Hike
An archipelago with great volcanic terrain, you can actually observe in Galapagos the way different types of lava flow. Moreover, at the Genovesa Island you will find the great Palo Santo forest and a bird-watching plateau inhabited by Nazca and red-footed boobies.
There are 29 land bird species, of which 22 are endemic—most famously the 13 species of Darwin’s finch. There are also 4 Nesomimus mockingbirds, Galapagos Hawk, Galapagos Dove, Galapagos Martin, Galapagos Rail and Galapagos Flycatcher. These are mostly found on the larger islands.
Full bird lists for the Galapagos run to about 140 species.
Underwater Volcanoes and Coral Formations
An open or deep dive presents an opportunity to discover various coral formations and underwater volcanoes. The Galapagos Islands is known for its underwater volcanic cone known as the Devil’s Crown, which actually forms a great surrounding terrain with its lava.
Off the northern coast of Floreana Island is a jagged set of rocks that just out of the sea. The rocks are in a rough circle: hence the name, the Devil’s Crown. One of the best snorkeling spots in the islands, visitors may see sharks, rays, many fish, turtles and more.
Great Opportunities for Drift Diving
One of the island’s enchanting sceneries include its swift currents along the coastline that is deemed perfect for drift divers looking out for the ultimate flight under the sea.
From just a few feet below the surface, you will be able to enjoy medium currents that would propel you to a velocity of 2 to 6 km/hr. Small islets that compose the Galapagos are also refreshing spots for scuba diving.
Due to the currents throughout the archipelago dives usually follow the flow of the current. Most of the diving in the Galapagos is drift diving. Usually divers will descend in a rapid but controlled manner and hold on to an insensitive feature on the bottom.
Once in the bottom, rocks and other natural features serve as good hiding places from the current. There is where a lot of the wildlife as hides so it’s a natural place for observing it. Once ready to move, just think ahead of where you are going, work with the current and find another anchor point or hideaway.
So, ready to go?
Our recommended tour make it easy, take the Voyage Galapagos (10% discount) package where you can cruise in style and come face to face with fearless wildlife. If you need more information, please call our tour consultants.