Why Scuba Diving?
Since the first man ever entered the water, its life changed forever. More so now, as knowledge, science, exploration and conservation, all team together to enhance the beauty of the world’s different water bodies. The ocean, thus far, the largest body of water, is a world to be discovered. Many already swim and snorkel, but there is nothing more exciting than to be able to breathe underwater and see the wonders of this aquatic realm. Scuba diving is an exciting adventure, filled with emotion, pride, accomplishment, and most of all, a fun activity. There’s never been a better time to scuba dive than now. Come with us and take the plunge!
Why Scuba Diving in the Galápagos Islands?
The Galápagos Islands are a group of 13 major islands, and some 45 islets, all volcanic in origin, and all bathed by ocean currents as diverse as the wildlife that inhabits this World Natural Heritage Site. These currents are responsible for the unusual weather pattern of this tropical jewel, where penguins live next to parrot fishes, and hammerhead sharks live next to marine iguanas. Such diversity has given the islands the status of Marine Reserve, where 130,000 Km2 are protected by law. This makes Galápagos, the Earth’s second-largest Marine Reserve, and the largest of all in the Americas.
Galápagos is famous for its encounters with “the big animals”; its crystal-clear waters plus numerous and colorful reef fishes. Many well-respected industry magazines list the islands as the World’s Best Diving. Fortunately, not many divers come here, and thus, diving is not geared for crowds. It is, by all means, very selective and quite personal. This adds a unique value to the overall adventure. Some of the underwater encounters, to name a few, include rays, angel fishes, sea lions, parrot fishes, hammerhead sharks, sea turtles, jacks, eels, groupers, scorpion fish, reef sharks, and the always attractive invertebrates that make pelagic islands a world to be discovered. There are about 385 species of fish, and about 20% are only found here. In addition, divers are interested in interacting with the unique wildlife found on land, and the opportunity of admiring this Natural Heritage. Diving here is quite rewarding, and before the voyage ends, most already think about coming back. Where else have you experienced that?
Why Scuba Diving in the Galápagos Islands at Finch Bay Hotel?
Until now, most diving has featured live-aboard diving. And by all means, the diving will be quite amazing, and certainly rewarding. Since 2003, a new operation based on Santa Cruz Island was launched, as the greatest addition to the scuba diving options available. Finch Bay Hotel offers the best accommodations available, white-coral beach access (the only hotel in Santa Cruz Island right at the beach), multisport activities, air conditioned rooms, and outstanding service. Island cuisine with local and international flavors will add pleasure to anyone’s stay.
What is like to Scuba Dive in the Galápagos Islands?
Weather and seasons
Although the islands are tropical, there are two markedly different seasons : the warm, humid and sunny season from December to May and the dry, windy and not-so-sunny season from June to November. Transitional months are January, April and May. The Warm Season offers hardly any wind (so the sea is usually very calm) and the visibility tends to be better. In the Dry Season there is more wind, sometimes the sea tends to be choppy and the visibility lower.
Surprisingly, water temperatures range from 16°C to 27°C degrees Celsius (61°F – 80°F); we use full wet (6mm) suits all year around and hoods in the cold season. Regardless of the season, a thermocline is commonly found below 12-15 meters (37-45 feet).
In general, visibility ranges from 5 to 25 meters (16 to 82 feet), but most of the time it is restricted to between 12 and 18m. A large submarine current (Equatorial Undercurrent) coming from the West Pacific hits the largest island of the archipelago (Isabela Island) and is deflected upward reaching the surface, bringing up the cold and nutrient rich water; this can change the water temperature by as much as 6 degrees Celsius, and change the visibility in a matter of one or two days. It is this unique feature, however, that brings such unpredictable marine life.
Experience for Galápagos Diving
• Beginners: Newly certified divers or divers with few dives logged (3 to 15 dives).
• Intermediate: 15 to 50 dives logged with experience in cold water and with drift and wall diving.
• Advanced: 100 dives or more logged with experience in cold water and with drift and wall diving.
Detailed description of dive experience is always necessary to confirm a dive program, because a diver with 10 dives in cold water and currents may feel a lot more comfortable than a diver with 40 logged dives in warm water and little current - also a newly certified diver may feel more comfortable than a diver with 50 logged dives but who has not been diving for 6 years.
Sites for diving
Academy Bay is a short 2,5 mile navigation from the dive center. This area is great for introductory diving, beginners and intermediate divers. We always request that each person spend a minimum of 1 day diving Academy Bay to get acclimated to our waters, wet suit and the visibility. We recommend that beginning certified divers do at least 2 days in Academy Bay before heading to the more distant spots.
The Academy Bay area is easier diving with very little current. The following are some of the Academy Bay diving sites - dive sites will not be specified when confirming an Academy Bay program since we select the sites according to the divers skills and the conditions of the day.
• Punta Estrada
Sea turtle canyon in Academy Bay. Invertebrates, tropical fish, stingrays, green sea turtles with possible encounters with golden rays and some white-tip reef sharks. There are many interesting geological formations.
• Caamaño Islet
Offers a chance to swim and play with friendly sea lions, many tropical fish and a few marine iguanas.
• Punta Nunez Cliffs
Wall diving with a cave. At this site you can see turtles, stingrays and tropical fish.
• El Bajo Solmar
This submerged shoal at Academy Bay has an impressive amount of fish, white-tip reef sharks, morays, invertebrates, caverns, eagle rays, stingrays, turtles and sea fans. A great diving site for intermediate as well as experienced divers.
Outside Academy Bay
The dive sites outside Academy Bay have a navigation distance of between 20 and 38 miles. The approximate travel time is from 1 to 2 hours by boat to each site. These areas are spectacular sites representing world-class diving and are for intermediate to experienced divers.
Enderby Islet, Punta Ayora, Champion Islet and Devil’s Crown are the dive sites where you will experience the company of sea lions, thousands of tropical fish, barracudas, black coral, white-tip reef sharks and Galápagos sharks, moray eels, some hammerheads and eagle rays. You will have an excellent opportunity for dolphin-watching during the boat trip to and from Floreana. You will also enjoy some sightseeing by boat of the local marine- and bird life, such as sea lions, blue footed boobies, frigate bird, penguins, marine iguanas, etc.
• Gordon Rocks
Here you will experience diving with turtles, big fish, hundreds of tropical fishes, hammerheads, Galápagos sharks, black-tip sharks and white-tip reef sharks, large morays, spotted eagle rays, golden- and stingrays as well as fur sea lions. This is the best one daytrip for experienced divers.
• North Seymour
Schools of hammerheads, loads of snappers and other fish, turtles, morays, manta rays and white-tip reef sharks.
• Cousins Rock
An intermediate dive combination of shoal and wall diving with sea lions, large amount of fish, white-tip reef sharks, hammerheads, eagle rays and manta rays. There is a breathtaking vertical wall with a profusion of black corals and other invertebrates. This dive site is always combined with diving in Bartolome.
Stingrays, turtles, white-tip reef sharks, plenty of fish, invertebrates and interesting rock formation with crevices. This dive site is always combined with diving in Cousins Rock. During the surface interval between Cousins and Bartolome we snorkel to look for penguins
• Mosquera Islet
Big schools of garden eels, mantas, white-tip reef sharks and maybe hammerheads and eagle rays as well as plenty of tropical fish and sea lions.
• Guy Fawkes
Combination of wall and shoal diving. Great site for seeing a lot of sea horses and fishes. White-tip reef sharks, sea lions, turtles, Galápagos Sharks.
• Daphne Minor Islet
Wall diving with morays, white-tip reef sharks, eagle rays, sting rays, sea lions, cave diving, invertebrates, hammerheads, turtles, black corals and hundred of fishes.
• Santa Fé
Easy diving with little current. Similar to Academy Bay. Expect sea turtles, marbled stingrays, angel fishes, parrot fishes, sea lions, and our regular encounters with white-tip reef sharks.
We have great dive sites for beginners, intermediate and experienced divers, although the best dive sites are usually the most difficult ones, with significant to strong currents near vertical walls. Most of our diving is drift diving, so the Dive Masters skills play an important role. Beginners can start at the easier places and proceed to the more difficult ones always led by our Dive Masters or instructors. In all our dives our Dive Masters will be actually diving in the water with guests. Another important aspect of the Dive Masters skills is that, although there is a decompression chamber on the islands, the Dive Masters duty is to guarantee that, to a reasonable extent, everybody is on the safe side.
Each dive is one tank. We use aluminum tanks with 3000 psi /207 bar - all tanks have the international connection system - if passengers want to use their own regulator with DIN system they have to bring their own adapter. The bottom time depends on each passengers air consumption. All dives are in-between 15 and 25 meters because this is where you encounter most of the marine life in the Galápagos. Maximum depth for our dives is 30 meters.
Our daily dive trip rates always include complete SCUBA gear. Divers can decide whether they want to use our equipment or bring their own.
Where and when
All day trips leave from Pto. Ayora, Santa Cruz Island. We normally depart around 8:30 AM and, depending on the navigation distance to each site, we will come back approximately at 4:30 PM.
What is included
Full SCUBA gear (full 6 mm wetsuit, jacket type BCD with power inflators, regulator with octopus, pressure gauge and depth gauge, mask, snorkel, fins and booties) , 2 boat dives in small groups, Dive Master diving in the water with guests (max. Dive Master to diver ratio 1:6), transfers to/from Puerto Ayora and dive sites, drinking water, basic snacks. Our programs outside the Academy Bay also include box lunch.
Information required before confirming a daily diving tour
Safety comes first and therefore we require the following information about each guest’s dive experience in order to make the program that fits with your skills and interests:
1. What type of divers license (level and training agency)
2. How many dives
3. Date of last dive
4. Experience with drift and wall diving
5. Experience with diving in cold water and with 6mm wet suit
6. What would the customer like to see in the Galápagos
With this information we can put together the program and the customer is off to experience one of the most fantastic dive adventures.
Open Water Certification
Our facility is also capable of offering your passport to the enjoyment of diving. Become fully certified in the Galápagos Islands and receive the best training, next to the healthiest marine life of this planet. Detailed theory, pool work and first open water dives included. The internationally-recognized PADI certification card never expires.
For the diving enthusiast, Galápagos is the greatest location to continue pursuing your diving career. Due to the islands’ unique conditions, training not only happens under natural circumstances, but the encounters with marine wildlife are just endless. These courses help divers learn new skills while pursuing individual interests.
Discover Scuba Diving
PADI’s addition to the underwater options can show the non-diver (yet!) the amazing world of underwater discovery. This introduction to scuba diving invites participants to learn the basics about diving, both in theory, practice, and pool work, to ultimately enter the waters of the Galápagos. Starting age is 10 years, and a minimum of 3 participants is required. Chances are you will want to become a scuba diver right away.