The Best Galapagos Scuba Liveaboard Trips

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Ever dream of exploring the wild world of the Galapagos? One of the most biologically diverse places on the planet, we’ll show you the best scuba Galapagos liveaboard trips to venture out on if you want to see this exciting region for yourself. Plus, we’ll share when to go, the best itineraries, and tips for choosing the right liveaboard for you.

The Best Galapagos Liveaboards: Quick Picks

  1. Galapagos Sky
  2. Calipso
  3. Galapagos Aggressor III
  4. Aqua
  5. Humboldt Explorer
  6. Galapagos Master
  7. Blue Spirit

The Best Galapagos Scuba Liveaboard Trips: At a Glance

LiveaboardNitroxLengthCostPADI TravelLiveaboard
Galapagos SkyYes30m$$$CheckCheck
CalipsoYes35m$$$CheckCheck
Galapagos Aggressor IIIYes32m$$$CheckCheck
AquaYes26m$$CheckCheck
Humboldt ExplorerYes34m$$$CheckCheck
Galapagos MasterYes32m$$$CheckCheck
Blue SpiritNo31$$$CheckCheck

The Best Galapagos Scuba Liveaboard Trips: In Depth

Galapagos Sky – Our Top Pick

Photo: Galapagos Sky

Overview: Highly rated luxury liveaboard venturing to the Galapagos Islands major dive sites.

The Galapagos Sky is a 30 meter luxury liveaboard vessel that offers dive safari adventures major dive sites of the Galapagos Islands. Each of its eight cabins have large beds, mirrored cabinets, air conditioning, and plenty of storage space. It has onboard amenities that include the main saloon fitted with a TV and bar, a sundeck with loungers and a dining hall.

The itinerary of the Galapagos Sky usually goes on an eight-night or 10-night journey an 8-day journey with at least three days spent at Wolf and Darwin. Diving is done from the vessel’s tenders, and there’s a good mix of naturalist activities onboard as well. Free Nitrox is available to certified divers.

  • Year Built/Renovated: 2001/2014
  • Cabins: 8
  • Length/Width: 30m/7m
  • Rental Gear: Yes ($)
  • Internet: No
  • Nitrox: Free

Check prices and trip dates: PADI Travel | Liveaboard


Calipso

Photo: Calipso Galapagos Liveaboard

Overview: Modern luxury Galapagos liveaboard that caters to small groups.

The Calipso is a luxury Galapagos liveaboard vessel that offers seven-night dive safari tours, catering to scuba divers. The trip usually ventures to iconic dive sites around the Fernandina and Isabela Islands. Aside from the popular diving spots of the Galapagos island like Darwin’s Arch and Shark Point, the Calipso has an up-to-date and modern itinerary that now includes Marchena which is a new diving site often explored scientists.     

Eight cabins accommodate up to 16 guests. All cabins have ocean views and come with ensuite bathrooms, individual AC, TV, USB charging ports, and can be changed into double or single configurations. There’s a deck hot tub, fully stocked bar, sun deck, and alfresco dining area. The back of the dive deck has hot water showers, camera area, rinse tanks, and dive gear storage.

  • Year Built/Renovated:
  • Capacity:
  • Length/Width:
  • Rental Gear:
  • Internet:
  • Nitrox:

Check prices and trip dates: PADI Travel | Liveaboard


Galapagos Aggressor III

Photo: Aggressor Adventures

Overview: Luxury Galapagos liveaboard visiting major dive sites of Darwin and Wolf Islands.

The Galapagos Aggressor III is a 32 meter (105 feet) long luxury liveaboard vessel that specializes in sailing the waters around Wolf and Darwin islands, famous for their schooling hammerheads and sea lions. The liveaboard can accommodate up to 16 guests. All rooms come with ensuite bathrooms, individual AC, TV, and most have window views. Everyone spends their surface interval on the top sun deck that’s outfitted with a bar, grill, jacuzzi and a dining area serving American cuisine.

The diving itinerary of the Galapagos Aggressor III (called “Explore Galapagos) involves a 7-day journey towards Galapagos’ best dive sites such as Wolf Island and Darwin’s Arch. On a daily basis, you will be performing up to four dives per day, including night dives. If you happen to be onboard the Galapagos Aggressor III during August, prepare to interact with the largest fish in the world as whale sharks abound this offshore island during this month.

  • Year Built/Renovated: 1993/2011
  • Cabins: 8
  • Length/Width: 32m/12m
  • Rental Gear: Yes ($)
  • Internet: No
  • Nitrox: Yes ($)

Check prices and trip dates: PADI Travel | Liveaboard


Aqua

Photo: Aqua Galapagos Liveaboard

Overview: Best mid-range Galapagos liveaboard trip; staff extremely knowledgeable about wildlife.

The Aqua is a 26 meter dive yacht that specializes in offering both the naturalist cruises and scuba liveaboard diving to the Galapagos Islands (usually running trips separately from one another). It can accommodate up to 16 guests and each room comes with an ensuite bathroom, individual AC, and plenty of storage space. This liveaboard is a bit more spacious than the others in its class. It has onboard amenities such as the main air-conditioned lounge, a shaded outdoor lounge, bar and a dining area that serves International and Local Ecuadorian gourmet meals.

For its naturalist cruise, the Aqua ventures on a three- to four-day journey while the diving expedition is usually a seven-day trip. Most of the dive sites that will be explored are Darwin’s Arch and Wolf Island. In between dives, guests can go snorkeling or trekking in one of the many established hiking trails.

  • Year Built/Renovated: 1998/2019
  • Cabins: 9
  • Length/Width: 26m/5m
  • Rental Gear: Yes ($)
  • Internet: No
  • Nitrox: Yes ($)

Check prices and trip dates: PADI Travel | Liveaboard


Humboldt Explorer

Image: Humboldt Explorer

Overview: Expedition style Galapagos liveaboard that has helped the region focus on conservation.

The Humboldt Explorer is a 34 meter long luxury liveaboard vessel that specializes in both diving and naturalist tours around the Galapagos Islands, with the Wolf and Darwin dive sites being its main highlights. Each of the eight cabins onboard comes with an ensuite bathroom, TV, and individual AC. Its onboard amenities include the air-conditioned saloon that has a full audio and video entertainment system, a bar, a sun deck fitted with a jacuzzi and a dining area that serves fresh food.

The most popular Galapagos Islands itinerary the Humboldt Explorer runs is a seven-night journey towards Darwin’s Arch and Wolf Island, famous for its healthy shark population. It also offers its signature Naturalist Tour where you can set foot in one of the islands and interact with marine iguanas, blue-footed boobies and frigate birds.

  • Year Built/Renovated: 2009/2014
  • Cabins: 8
  • Length/Width: 34m/6m
  • Rental Gear: Yes ($)
  • Internet: No
  • Nitrox: Yes ($)

Check prices and trip dates: PADI Travel | Liveaboard


Galapagos Master

Photo: Galapagos Master

Overview: Experienced safety-focused staff run fune-tuned luxury Galapagos liveaboard trips to the most iconic dive regions.

The Galapagos Master is a 32 meter luxury liveaboard vessel venturing to the major dive sites of the Galapagos Islands. Its nine cabins can accommodate up to 16 guests, and each room comes with hot water showers, ensuite bathrooms, and air conditioning. Its onboard amenities include a saloon with an audio/video entertainment system, a sun deck, and spacious dining area. There is also plenty of space to tend to camera gear, dive gear, and more.

The diving cruise itinerary of the Galapagos Master (called the “Master the Galapagos”) involves a 7 or 10-day journey to Galapagos where they take their guests to Wolf Island and Darwin’s Arch for an unforgettable shark diving experience. All your dives will be assisted on a tender boat and guided by two divemasters.

  • Year Built/Renovated: 2004/2014
  • Cabins: 9
  • Length/Width: 32m/8m
  • Rental Gear: Yes ($)
  • Internet: No
  • Nitrox: Yes ($)

Check prices and trip dates: PADI Travel | Liveaboard


Blue Spirit

Photo: Blue Spirit

Overview: Spacious and modern yacht with ample lounge space.

The Blue Spirit is a 31 meter yacht that offers naturalist tours and diving expeditions to the Galapagos Islands. It has 10 cabins that accommodate up to 16 guests; each room includes an ensuite bathroom, air conditioning, and storage space. Its onboard amenities include the main saloon fitted with a full audio/video entertainment system, a sun deck and a dining area (note: most of the ship’s lounge space is shaded).

The itinerary of the Blue Spirit involves a week-long journey towards the main diving spots Galapagos Island; Wolf and Darwin’s Arch. In between dives, guests will disembark on a land-based excursion to Bartolome Island and the highlands of Santa Cruz where you can see herons, penguins and marine iguanas basking on bare rock.

  • Year Built/Renovated: 2001/2019
  • Cabins: 10
  • Length/Width: 31m/7m
  • Rental Gear: Yes ($)
  • Internet: No
  • Nitrox: Yes ($)

Check prices and trip dates: PADI Travel | Liveaboard

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Why go scuba diving in the Galapagos?

While the famous English naturalist Charles Darwin was intrigued by the geological characteristics of Galapagos Island in Ecuador, it was the immensity of its local wildlife that really attracted him after first arriving in 1835. This eventually became Darwin’s study site on his Evolutionary Theory on Natural Selection.

More than 180 years after Darwin set foot on the island, the same immense wildlife has attracted divers from all parts of the world witness the marine life hidden beneath its waters. Because it’s so isolated, the Galapagos Islands have not changed much over the past few hundred years.

The best way to see the Galapagos Islands is on a naturalist or scuba liveaboard trip, as these islands are over 1,329 kilometers from the Ecuadorian Capital City of Quito.

Most scuba diving trips to the Galapagos Islands also incorporate naturalist tours, guiding trips onto the islands themselves. Your scuba safari doesn’t just take place underwater–on land, you’ll see what Darwin saw 180 years ago.

The best time to go scuba diving in the Galapagos

There are two seasons in the Galapagos, the wet season and the dry season. The best time to go scuba diving in the Galapagos is during the wet season, from January to June. This is when the water tends to be warmer and you’re likely to spot a wider variety of wildlife.

From July to December is the Galapagos Islands’ dry season. Water temperatures tend to drop around this time, but you’re more likely to see whale sharks and mola mola.

Overall, the Galapagos Islands are incredible to visit all year long.

Marine life you can expect to see in the Galapagos Islands

Sharks galore

Galapagos Islands are filled with a thriving population of hammerhead sharks, Galapagos sharks, whitetip reef sharks, blacktip reef sharks, tiger sharks and the world’s largest fish, whale sharks.

Rays

You might get lucky and spot manta rays, eagle rays, and stingrays taking refuge in the Galapagos Islands’ waters.

Mammals

From sea lions to dolphins to whales, there are plenty of large mammals cruising through the Galapagos Islands. So much so, surface intervals onboard the vessels act like whale watching excursions.

Wildlife unique to the Galapagos Islands

The Galapagos Islands are home to species not found anywhere else in the world. Marine iguanas, Galapagos tortoise, Galapagos penguin, Blue-footed booby, Red-footed booby, and more. This is one of the most incredible places to see unique creatures you might never see again.

Tips for choosing the best Galapagos dive trip for you

Experience level

The Galapagos Islands are extremely remote. To make the most of your experience, we recommend having at least your Advanced Open Water certification and at least 100 logged dives. Strong currents, deep dives, and choppy conditions are prevalent in the Galapagos Islands, making it a place best suited for experienced divers.

Ship size

Liveaboards in the Galapagos Islands are somewhat unique in that they don’t tend to vary too much when it comes to ship size and passenger accommodation. Some are slightly more spacious than others, but almost all major scuba liveaboard trips run their excursions with about a maximum of 16 scuba divers.

Cost

The cost of a scuba diving trip to the Galapagos is around $3,500-5,000 USD per week. This typically includes the cost of your food, accommodation, all scuba dives, and land-based excursions. Due to the remote location, it’s not possible to visit the Galapagos Islands on a strict budget.

Itinerary

Most scuba diving liveaboard trips to the Galapagos Islands span at least one week long. This is to help maximize optimal scuba dive times and have plenty of time to visit iconic dive sites around Darwin Island and Wolf Island.

Short trips to the Galapagos Islands are usually around four days long at the absolute shortest, best done as a naturalist adventure trip. You won’t have time within just three days to scuba dive and experience the best that the Galapagos Islands has to offer on land.

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