The Galapagos Islands often come up when divers and naturalist start talking about the ultimate destination for themselves. While not a mainstream destination, they do have their followers. If you are looking for high rise hotels, strange people or wild nightlife, this place is not for you. However, if you love nature, few people and strange wildlife this is the place for you.
Galapagos Islands is remote, her nearest neighbor is Cocos Island, Costa Rica some 720 km away. But no one lives there. Ecuador some 960 km to the east is the closest area of development. To reach the Galapagos, you must fly from there. An archipelago, Galapagos Islands has eighteen main islands,four minor ones and about 100 inlets. Only five of the islands are inhabited: Baltra, Floreana, Isabela, San Cristobal and Santa Cruz. Baltra is the home of one of the two airports but is mostly a military base. San Cristobal is the most developed and home of the other airport. Even here you will find no major hotels chains or high rise condos. In fact, the majority of visitors to the archipelago spend their stay on boats.
What so Special about Galapagos Islands.
The majority of the islands are a National Park. Entrance to the park is restricted to 116 sites, 54 are land sites and 62 are for either scuba-diving or snorkeling. While in the park visitors must be accompanied by a guide. This is not only to ensure that the visitor does not get lost but also to insure the visitor complies with the environmental laws.
As far back as 1535, sailors mostly whalers would stop at the islands to search for fresh water and to hunt for meat. Charles Darwin’s visit in 1835, brought the Europe’s scientific community’s eyes to the islands. Charles Darwin discovered that life on these islands developed differently then elsewhere in the world, many animals here are found nowhere else. Three major ocean currents converge here. Each bringing different water conditions which in turn impacts the climate. As the trade winds change so does the air and water temperatures. In the waters you will find cold water species only a few miles from those found in the tropics.
When we look at the Galapagos Islands, we see that Española Island is the most southern point. Darwin Island, 430 km north is the most northern island. Naturalist visit mostly around the central islands with a few heading south. Scuba divers head to the northern islands with Wolf and Darwin islands being the crown jewels of diving.
Wolf and Darwin Islands.
Divers will always comment on the marine life was greatest at one site or another. However, the Wolf and Darwin islands can lay claim to that title with scientific proof. Located 350 km from San Cristobal in the central islands there are no land sites at these islands, even the park rangers live on boats. Divers here will find sharks, marine mammals and other marine life in numbers unmatched anywhere else in the world. The biomass of marine life here is twice as high as the next highest site the Coco Islands of Costa Rica. It is over ten times as much as the much celebrated Great Barrier Reef. Hammerhead sharks come here to bred and birth their young. Schools of over a hundred hammerheads are common and over 300 at a time is not unheard of. Pods of whales and dolphins are also found at different times of the year. Whale sharks migrate through the area with a few living here full time. Conditions are not easy so divers must be experienced in currents and deep diving. For those who are ready for the challenge, there is no better diving on earth. If you think you are up to the challenge to dive this remote dive trip or just want to find out more, head over to the Galapagos liveaboard website for more information about the diving and the liveaboards that you can select.