Citizen Science Scuba Diving in the Galapagos
From $11,790 pp
30 Jul, 2024
Spend 15 days on a small, liveaboard yacht scuba diving in the Galapagos Islands alongside marine biologists on this sustainable citizen science adventure!
The Galapagos Islands are one of the most beautiful locations on earth, and your dive trip here supports the Galapagos Whale Shark Project (which was featured in the BBC Blue Planet II series).
Marine biologists and divemasters will be on board to provide a life-changing experience, assistance, and educational guidance on endangered marine wildlife conservation as you explore these renowned scuba diving spots.
This unique and adventurous getaway gets you closer to science and animal life. It grants you the opportunity to enjoy the adventure of the Galapagos’ special underwater world. Come to America to explore Darwin’s Arch, Fernandina, and Isabela Islands, and other breathtaking places featuring endemic biodiversity. Enjoy whale watching, see dolphins playing, do night dives, and take hikes through volcanic landscapes.
Part of your trip fee supports the Galapagos Whale Shark Project, which was featured in the BBC Blue Planet II series.
- ~20 dives overall
- Night dive opportunity in Punte Vicente Roca
- City of Mantas
- Dives at Darwin Arch
- Wolf Island: swim through cave entrances and walls
- Fernandina Island (home to the world’s largest marine iguana colony)
- Hike in Tagus Cove
- Dinghy ride
- Cape Douglas: cormorant and penguin watching
- Bartolome Island
This experience will blow your mind away. Observing sharks and marine megafauna, and, perhaps, having a dolphin pass by overhead is something you do not get to experience every day. Huge schools of fish and other species that inhabit the coral-covered platform are to be sighted in the blue waters of this natural paradise. With a 15-day liveaboard dive experience, you will double your chance to see the big wildlife you are coming for!
The highlands of the Galapagos are as magnificent as their sea life. We will travel back in time to the formation of lava tubes, spatter cones, and the remains of two types of hardened lava. Prepare yourself to observe unique animals such as iguanas, birds, and the famous giant tortoises.
Photography instruction and practical advice about photography on land and underwater will take place directly onboard.
This scuba diving trip living amongst distinct animal species is an adventure that will be stamped in your heart forever!
What is it Really Like?
Check out our blog post on Sustainable Scuba Diving in the Galapagos Islands for an even deeper look into what to expect.
Please note that this itinerary is subject to approval by the National Park, which takes place in March of each year. The purpose of obtaining approval is to ensure that there is a limited number of guests present in the park on any given day. Therefore, the travel route can be subject to minor changes to comply with the park's regulations.
Every year, only a few shark conservation dive departures are offered – sometimes, there is only one dive organized per year. The schedule is always designed to align with the best shark diving season and the best months to dive in the islands of the Galapagos in general (July – October). These trips frequently sell out so we encourage you to book early to reserve your spot. For the 15-day itinerary, there is only one departure planned for 2024, so contact us today if you’re interested in learning more!
- 30 Jul, 2024 - 13 Aug, 2024
Day 1 Baltra Island [Galapagos Islands, Ecuador] (arrival day)
AM - Baltra Island
Guests fly to the Galapagos Islands from mainland Ecuador, arriving in the late morning. Our dive masters and yacht dive master/naturalist guide will be waiting at the airport on Baltra Island. Once the group has collected their luggage and cleared the National Park immigration we will board the Yacht which will be anchored in the port 10 minutes travel by bus. After everyone has settled in their cabins the guides will give a briefing on ship life, national park rules, and diving safety, whilst the galley crew prepares the dining room for a delicious buffet lunch.
PM - North Seymour (Check dive, equipment, and weights)
After a briefing on the dive platform, all equipment should be set up in readiness for the test dive. This will be at a nearby anchorage in calm shallow waters. Maximum depth of 12m. Although plentiful fish and usually sea lions and other species are to be seen, the objective is to check weight and equipment for the following days.
Day 2 Pinzon, Roca Blanca & Rabida
AM - Pinzon & Roca Blanca (2 Dives)
These remote islands offer diving with much different wildlife. You might encounter cow nose rays & other rays, turtles, hammerheads, and 6 other different shark species, sea lions, moray eels, lobsters, grunts, surgeonfish, scorpionfish, and the endemic Galapagos garden eel. One of the most exciting things you can spot here is the bait balls of Salemas, big schools of rays, and Giant manta rays, with a wingspan of up to 7m.
PM - Island Rabida (land excursion)
Rabida, also called 'The red island'. Result of the oxidation at the moment of its formation this island offers red landscapes with small craters, cliffs, and red sand beaches. Here, hundreds of sea lions formed a settlement together with a nesting colony of pelicans. It is one of the few places where you can find flamingos and the only site in the Galapagos where the nine Darwin's finches are found. It offers also a small salty lagoon, Palo Santo forests, and endemic cacti.
Day 3 Cape Marshall & City of Mantas
AM & PM - Cape Marshall (2 - 3 Dives)
This area on the northeast side of Isabela island offers a few great dive spots. One of them is Cape Marshall, also called 'Ciudad de las Mantas' (City of Mantas), named for how common it is to see giant mantas. The plankton-rich waters of this area are an attraction for many species of rays - like the eagle ray or giant manta, white tip sharks, sea lions, green sea turtles and many more. The topography is beautiful and invites divers to enjoy their first dives in the Galapagos Islands.
Days 4-5 Wolf Island
Day 4 (3 - 4 dives)
Day 5 (2 dives)
The powerful marine currents around Wolf are part of the reason we see so many sharks. Schooling hammerheads, Galapagos sharks, Blacktip, and Silky sharks are the usual protagonists. Dolphins are often present as we end our dives with a drift in the blue.
Two turtle species, the Green and Hawksbill are frequently sighted along the rocky walls and slopes of this island. Eagle rays and large schools of fish, snappers, grouper, and jacks patrol the drop-off.
Depending on the conditions we will offer a night dive in Wolf Island on Friday.
Wolf Island is home to vast numbers of sea birds, Red-footed and Nazca Boobies, frigate birds, the endemic Swallow–tailed gull, and the elegant Red–billed tropicbird. Finches and doves are often spotted hopping amongst the rocks.
Days 5-9 Darwin's Arch
Day 5 (pm) Darwin Island (1 - 2 dives)
Day 6-9 Darwin Island (3 - 4 dives per day)
We will spend 4,5 days up in Darwin Island, far in the north of the Galapagos Islands. Darwin's Arch is the most famous and impressive dive spot of the Galapagos. Per day we will offer 3 - 4 dives. All dives are at the same site, the world-renowned Darwin Arch. We drop onto a rocky ledge and from a protected position watch the marine life swim by. Hammerhead and Galapagos sharks, Blacktips, and Silkies. Marine turtles abound and Bottlenose dolphins often pass by overhead.
Huge schools of fish, tuna, jacks, and Creole fish swim in the blue whilst dozens of other species inhabit the coral-covered platform and ledges.
This is also the realm of the biggest shark of them all, the Whale shark. Frequenting the Islands between June – December over 95% of all sightings occur here at the Arch. Of these, a staggering 99% are female and in an apparent state of advanced pregnancy. Why they come to this rocky volcanic outcrop remains a mystery and one that the Galapagos Whale Shark Project team is trying to solve.
Day 10 Wolf Island
AM & PM - Wolf Island (3 dives)
Another full day exploring the diverse dive sites of Wolf. The dives may take us to swim through arches and along the spectacular walls and cave entrances. Again the local conditions will decide which are the best options dependent on current and swell. More time to observe the sharks and marine megafauna or study the massive diversity of life that inhabits the large coral heads and boulder slopes. Towards evening we set sail for the north of Isabela Island.
Day 11 Roca Redonda & Punta Vicente Roca
AM - Roca Redonda (2 dives)
On our way south to the western side of Isabela we will stop in Roca Redonda. The underwater fumaroles towards the southeast face of the islet are quite picturesque. One can witness bubbles created by steam rising to the surface of the water which makes one think that the volcano beneath the water's surface might still be active.
PM - Punta Vicente Roca (1 - 2 dives)
Afterward, on our way south, we are planning 1-2 afternoon dive(s) in Punta Vicente Roca. The wall is one of the most diverse of all Galapagos for marine invertebrates and is one of the favorite sites for macro photography. Brightly colored blennies, long nose coral hawkfish, frogfish, and sea horses can be found amongst the solitary corals, anemones, tunicates, and sponges. Green sea turtles are present all year and whales are often spotted in these waters.
Day 12 Punta Vicente Roca & Punta Espinoza
AM - Punta Vicente Roca (2 dives)
This morning we will dive at Punta Vicente Roca. Best known for the frequent sightings of Mola alexandrini, the southern ocean sunfish. The Molas approach the wall to visit the cleaning stations where wrasses and angelfish await. Sea lions and Galapagos fur seals abound and often follow divers playing with bubbles and darting in and out of schools of sardine-sized Brown striped Salemas.
The wall is one of the most diverse of all Galapagos for marine invertebrates and is one of the favorite sites for macro photography. Brightly colored blennies, Long nose coral hawkfish, frogfish, and sea horses can be found amongst the solitary corals, anemones, tunicates, and sponges. Green sea turtles are present all year and whales are often spotted in these waters.
PM - Punta Espinoza (1 land excursion)
After our morning dives, we will be sailing to Fernandina Island across the Bolivar channel which is an excellent opportunity for whale and dolphin watching. Showcased by many documentaries including BBC’s Blue Planet I & II, Fernandina Island is home to the world’s largest marine iguana colony. The island is also one of the most pristine islands in the world, with none of man’s introduced species to date. The flat jet-black lava of Punta Espinosa is a defining feature of its stark and barren landscape. Other features are lava cacti, black, white and red mangrove, Sally light-foot crabs, Galapagos hawks, and sea turtles. Moreover, the famous flightless cormorant inhabits this island. This a land visit you don't want to miss out on!
Day 13 Tagus Cove & Cape Douglas
AM - Tagus Cove (1 land excursion)
In the early morning we will offer a beautiful hike in Tagus Cove. Tagus Cove is located on the Northwestern coast of Isabela. It is a historical site visited by Charles Darwin in 1835. The hike will bring us to a view point over the dramatic volcanic landscape of Isabela Island with views of Darwin Crater Lake. In Tagus Cove also can be found 7 different species of Darwin finches.
We will return by the same path for a dinghy ride along a shoreline full of marine wildlife. Here, we will admire a variety of seabirds, such as blue-footed booby, brown noddy, terns, flightless cormorant and Galapagos penguins. The Galapagos penguins are only 1.4 ft. tall (35 cm) and are the only penguin species in the world living in the northern hemisphere, that is, along the Equator.
PM - Cape Douglas (2 dives)
Cape Douglas, showcased by many documentaries including BBC’s Blue Planet I & II, this is where marine iguanas are to be found feeding in the shallow bays between 5-10m. A unique experience that can only be had in the Galapagos we also find the endemic flightless cormorant and Galapagos penguins feeding here.
The cold ocean upwelling from the Cromwell current brings a myriad of life to an apparently stark volcanic shore. A unique experience that can only be had in the Galapagos we also find the endemic flightless cormorant and Galapagos penguins feeding here.
Day 14 Cousin's Rock, Bartolome, & Santa Cruz Highlands
AM - Cousin's Rock (1 Dive)
In Cousin's Rock, we often find playful sea lions, Eagle rays, Golden rays, and sometimes Mobula and Giant Pacific manta rays. The underwater topography provides refuge for sleeping turtles and white-tip sharks whilst the steep walls are covered by marine invertebrates.
Two species of black coral, sponges, and colonial tunicates are a colorful backdrop for the abundant fish that frequent this emergent volcanic cone.
The currents often found here attract some of the larger shark species such as hammerheads and black-tip sharks. Amongst the corals, we sometimes find Pacific golden sea horses and frogfish.
AM - Bartolome (1 land excursion)
After our morning dive, we will offer a land visit to the famous Bartolome Island - the most iconic place in the Galapagos!
We will travel back in time to the formation of lava tubes, spatter cones, and the remains of two types of hardened lava: AA and pahoehoe. Beautiful and breathtaking landscapes as you climb up Summit Trail. During the ascent, visitors will see Tiquilia and various cactus species, which add to the unique experience. The tall, leaning spike known as Pinnacle Rock is always something to behold. The Pinnacle Rock, formed by an eroded toba cone, is the most emblematic formation of the archipelago. On its base, a small colony of Penguins cohabits with Sea Lions and Marine Birds.
PM - Santa Cruz - Highlands with Giant tortoises
After the dive in Cousin's Rock & land visit in Bartolome, we will head to Santa Cruz Island. Here we visit the highlands of Santa Cruz to see Giant tortoises in the wild. On our visit we also will make a stop at a lava tunnel and often mistaken for volcanic craters, Los Gemelos – or “The Twins” in English – are actually sinkholes.
Day 15 North Seymour Island & Baltra Airport (departure day) or continue your trip with a land extension.
Early AM - North Seymour (land visit)
This place is the reason for many travellers and ornithologists to observe the spectacular and diverse amount of birds of the Galapagos.
North Seymour is a fascinating place with open nesting grounds of blue-footed Boobies and the archipelago’s largest colonies of Great and magnificent Frigate birds. Blue-footed Boobies perform their courtship dance in the more open areas; Swallow- tailed Gulls perch on cliff edges; Great Blue Herons, Lava Herons, two species of frigate birds, and endemic snakes can also be spotted.
You’ll find endemic land iguanas 3.9 ft (1.20 m) in length. Despite the tremendous surf pounding the outer shores, sea lions haul their slick bodies onto the beach and can be found together with marine iguanas. The vegetation is sparse and typical of arid zones.
AM - Santa Cruz - Baltra Island / airport
Assisted by the naturalist guide and some crew members, the dinghy will bring you and your luggage to Baltra, where we will take the airport shuttle. Your guide will accompany you to the check-in counters in the departure hall.
This is certainly one adventure that will change your lives and you will remember forever... until you return perhaps?
Prices exclude flights to/from the destination.
Prices are for double room occupancy unless indicated otherwise.
Deposit per person
30% of the trip price
Shared Room - sleeps 2 - price per person
Standard Cabin: $11,790
Shared Room - sleeps 2 - price per person
Master Cabin: $12,190
Prices of add-ons subject to change; confirm with our team before booking.
- Full Rental Equipment: $500
- Nitrox: $300
- Dive Computer: $160
- BCD: $160
- Regulator Set: $160
- 15 L tank: $150
- Wetsuit Rental (7mm): $120
- Dive Light: $10/day
We are a company specializing in diving trips and marine conservation. For every diver, the organization donates to the research of the Galapagos Whale Shark Project. This team is studying the unique population of adult whale sharks in the Galapagos.
Clients travel with scientists to collect data that furthers our understanding of whale sharks and other marine wildlife. This helps us promote conservation through education and awareness. We specifically discuss with travelers how to act responsibly in this destination, and why that's important. Our team of scientists will teach you how as a diver you can support marine life conservation.
On our Eco Dive Tour, we will pay attention to how to travel economically responsibly and behave respectfully toward wildlife. The boat uses water flow reducers.
The crew of the boat is all local people who are paid fair wages. Besides, we focus on serving locally-grown foods and locally-bought meat.
Health & Safety
Be sure you have traveler's insurance.
What does the Physical Rating of "Mildly Strenuous" mean?
Travelers should be certified, open-water divers, fit, and prepared for 2 dives a day.
Do I need to be dive certified already?
Yes! This trip requires that all divers be Open Water Plus Deep Diving or Advanced Open Water. This trip is not a training or certification course.
What are the accommodations like?
You will be staying on a small, liveaboard yacht on a 'Tourist Superior Cruise.' The ship has nine cabins with private bathrooms, air conditioning, electricity, and all that you may need to make your stay comfortable. The master cabin on the main deck and cabins on the upper deck have windows that will allow you to enjoy the beautiful sunrise and sunset of the Galapagos Islands. The lower cabins have portholes with an ocean view and natural light.
Is this trip recommended for solo travelers, women, LGBTQ+, and POC travelers?
Solo travelers stay in a single cabin. Only when requested, they can share the cabin with another traveler of the same gender. The project is led by a female scientist who of course will do everything to make women and travelers of LGBTQ+ community feel safe and welcome.
Why dive in Galapagos?
Once you dive in Galapagos your life and diving will NEVER be the same! Galapagos offers a unique variety of wildlife that you only can find here! In Galapagos, you can actually DIVE with the mightiest of all sharks… the Whale Shark! Galapagos is the only place in the world where 99.8% of the whale sharks are truly HUGE adult females swimming up to 15 meters / 45+ feet in length! Nearly all of them seem to be pregnant as they have massively extended abdomens. Galapagos might be THE place where whale sharks give birth - which is one of the reasons that scientists from all over the world come to the Galapagos to study this UNIQUE population.
Why dive with us?
- Because YOU support the research of the 'Galapagos Whale Shark Project' directly & help us find more ways to protect these gentle giants!
- Daily presentations related to Galapagos Islands & Galapagos Whale Shark Project.
- Small group - maximum of 15 passengers 4 divemasters - 1 divemaster per 4 divers.
- Dive with the Whale Shark experts and underwater photographers: Jonathan R. Green, Simon J Pierce, Sofia Green, and Jenny Waack.
- Get details about the research project in Galapagos and behind-the-scenes insights of the filming of 'BBC Blue Planet II' directly from the project leader, Jonathan.
- Become a Shark Ambassador - Learn how to provide data to actively support Whale Shark Research. You can get engaged with shark conservation now and make a difference wherever you go diving worldwide.
- We always travel responsibly! On our Eco Dive Tour, we will pay attention to how to travel economically responsibly and behave respectfully toward wildlife. Photography instruction and practical advice about photography on land and underwater will be provided directly on board by the underwater photographers.
- We offer translation onboard in English, German, Spanish, and French.
What's the Dive Master ratio?
1 Dive Master per group of 4-5 divers.
Citizen Science Scuba Dive in the Galapagos Islands
Such a fantastic trip! I got to see a 35 ft whale shark, schools of 100s of hammerheads, sea lions, etc. It was outstanding!
Hilary was such a help finding an amazing travel experience. She helped me find an amazing scuba trip to the Galapagos and explained some of the impacts as well as ways to be a thoughtful steward. I will definitely work with her again. I recommend Yugen Earthside with all my heart!