The Best Liveaboards in the Galapagos

16th March 2017   |   Sarah Morlock

Diving in the Galapagos Islands is dominated by the marine life you can find in these waters. Central to Darwin’s theory of evolution, these islands in Ecuador boast an overwhelming number of endemic and pelagic species. You might spot marine iguanas, penguins, sea lions, Galapagos sharks, hammerheads, whale sharks, tiger sharks, silkies, mobula rays, manta rays, dolphins and mola mola.

Because the Galapagos Islands are mostly volcanic and the temperature of the water changes from summer to winter, there aren’t many corals in the surrounding area. Underwater landscapes generally include rock formations and pinnacles. Furthermore, the channels around the islands work like pelagic highways, so divers can just sit on the edge and watch the action pass by.

The absolute best dive sites in the Galapagos are located around Wolf and Darwin Islands. These distant land masses are not populated and can only be reached by liveaboard.

Most liveaboards depart from Baltra Island, a short flight from Guayaquil on Ecuador’s mainland. The typical length of itineraries in the Galapagos is 7 nights, but some liveaboards offer 8 to 10 night itineraries.

The best time to dive in the Galapagos depends on what you want to see. From December to May, manta rays, schooling hammerheads and other sharks populate the area. These months also bring milder currents and better visibility. On the other hand, June to November is considered whale shark season. The water temperature drops and nutrient rich current brings in these gentle giants along with mola mola and humpback whales.

Keep in mind, underwater conditions in the Galapagos can be fairly rough, and the current can be on the strong side. Some experience with current is a prerequisite. Most liveaboards require divers to have 50 or more logged dives.

Best Luxury Liveaboard: Galapagos Sky

One of the most luxurious vessels in the Galapagos, the Galapagos Sky was recently renovated to provide the most modern diving amenities possible.

This spacious vessel allows for 5 and a half days of diving on every cruise, including an astounding 3 days at Wolf and Darwin Islands. This will give you up to 11 dives plus one night dive in the best area of the Galapagos. To help you get the most out of these dives, Nitrox is provided for free.

You’ll get to enjoy all of this under the water while relaxing in total luxury above the surface. 8 air-conditioned cabins can accommodate 16 divers. And you’ll have the option of 3 land excursions. Don’t miss the opportunity to explore these epic islands above and below the sea.

To travel to the Galapagos Islands with all the comforts of home, book a trip on the MV Galapagos Sky.

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Best Mid-Range Liveaboard: Humboldt Explorer

The mission of the Humboldt Explorer is to take you on a once-in-a-lifetime adventure to the unparalleled world of beauty, wonder and marine life known only in the historical Galapagos Islands.

In addition, you’ll get more dives at Wolf and Darwin Islands than on most other liveaboards in the area. The Humboldt Explorer generally stays in the north for 4 full days on a 7-night itinerary, giving you a total of 15 dives at the best dive sites in the Galapagos. Plus, there’s a naturalist diving instructor onboard to explain the unique flora and fauna found in the area.

When not engaged in diving activities, guests on the Humboldt Explorer can relax in total comfort. There is plenty of seating, and the Jacuzzi is ideal for unwinding. A full entertainment system awaits in the lounge, and guests are accommodated in 8 ensuite cabins.

For a well-priced liveaboard with a nice selection of extras, the Humboldt Explorer is an excellent choice.

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Best Budget Liveaboard: MY Nortada

Gracing our list as the liveaboard with the best value, the MY Nortada could also be named the most intimate liveaboard in the Galapagos. With only 4 cabins, this boat is ideal for private charters.

In addition to diving with an intimate group of 8 divers, guests on the Nortada will find a unique variety of diving support. Facilities for rebreather and technical divers are provided along with dive pros who understand these types of diving. In addition, nervous divers can rest easy in the knowledge that SMBs, Nautilus lost diver devices and dive alerts are available.

Guests will enjoy 3 full days at Wolf and Darwin Islands with 3 to 4 dives each day, and at the end of the trip, a shore excursion to Darwin Station will provide insight into land research activities on the islands.

Furthermore, the boat itself is comfortable with enough space for every guest to relax. Each of the 4 cabins is air conditioned and boasts an ensuite bathroom with hot water.

If you want to visit the Galapagos with a group of friends or simply want to score a good deal, consider the MY Nortada.

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The three liveaboards you’ve read about were hand-picked by our scuba diving experts, but there are a few more boats available. To see the full list of liveaboards in the Galapagos Islands, click the button below.

View all liveaboards in the Galapagos


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