5 Best Galapagos Liveaboards in 2021 By Rachel Thannhauser Updated: March 21st, 2022 Expert Advice Rachel Thannhauser Author Details Rachel Thannhauser Administrator Rachel is a divemaster and full-time writer from Southampton, England. She loves the ocean, CrossFit, cooking, and travelling as much as possible - pandemics allowing! email Rachel.firstname.lastname@example.org follow me With some of the best scuba diving in the world, Galapagos liveaboards are in a league of their own. But with so many options to choose from – how do you know where to start?! Well, that’s where ScubaOtter comes in. Why Go On A Galapagos Liveaboard? The Galapagos Islands are a “one of a kind” dive destination. They offer world-class dive sites and a diversity of marine life that will take your breath away. There are 4 main inhabited islands – San Cristobal, Santa Cruz, Floreana and Isabela. Whilst there are are many excellent dive sites around these islands, the real gems are found further away -where only liveaboards can go. A liveaboard cruise allows you to explore some of the most epic dive sites in the world, such as Wolf And Darwin Islands, Punta Carrion, Cabo Douglas, and Cousins Rock. Spending a week (or more!) on a boat is the best way to make the most of the fantastic diving found in the Galapagos. One of the undeniable highlights of liveaboard diving is the opportunity to maximise the underwater creatures you get to see. And there is certainly no shortage of marine wildlife in the Galapagos Islands! At Wolf and Darwin Islands alone, you can dive with whale sharks, manta rays, sea lions, penguins, hammerhead sharks, silky sharks and Galapagos sharks – alongside dense schools of fish. We did tell you that a Galapagos liveaboard would be good… Aside from the location, a liveaboard is a fantastic experience for any keen scuba diver. It offers you the opportunity to fully immerse yourself into the diving lifestyle, without having to worry about any logistics or travel – you can just enjoy diving up to 4 times a day! It’s also a great way to make friends with your fellow scuba divers. For more information on why a liveaboard is something that every diver should experience at least once, check out our Ultimate Liveaboard Guide. Best Galapagos Liveaboards Liveaboards in the Galapagos Islands are plentiful, which is hardly surprising as it’s routinely listed amongst the best scuba diving locations on the planet. Many liveaboards offer excellent terrestrial and snorkeling options, but no scuba diving. Fortunately, we’ve pulled together the very best options for scuba diving-friendly Galapagos liveaboards to make your choice just that little bit easier. They are: Galapagos Sky Aqua Galapagos Master Humboldt Explorer Galapagos Aggressor III Let’s dive in. Humboldt Explorer The beautiful Humboldt Explorer is the perfect way to explore the Galapagos Islands. With a maximum capacity of 16, she features 8 double/twin cabins which all have ocean views, air-conditioning, entertainment systems and private ensuite bathrooms. Social areas include the air-conditioned salon and covered back deck which has spectacular sea views. There is also a roomy sundeck with a jacuzzi, ideal for relaxing under the stars. You will enjoy your freshly prepared meals in the stylish restaurant-style dining room, which also boasts a full bar. The diving deck is spacious and shady, with personal gear bins for each diver. Dedicated diving RIB tenders will help you get quickly and easily to each dive site. You can dive with nitrox, for a small additional fee. There is a dedicated camera table and rinse bins to ensure that your precious equipment is properly cared for. The dive sites around the Galapagos are not suitable for beginners and the Humboldt Explorer requires divers to hold an Advanced Open Water qualification and have at least 100 dives under their belt. Departing from and returning to San Cristobal Island, the Humboldt Explorer ventures around the central regions of the archipelago. The cruise visits epic sites like Punta Carrion, Wolf Island, Darwin Island, and Cousin’s Rock. Pros Visits top dive sites Jacuzzi on board. Cabins with AC and TV Cons No wifi Extra cost for nitrox AC Yes # Divers 16 Wifi No Nitrox Yes Drinks Yes Price High Visit Website Aqua Aqua Liveaboard is a large, spacious boat that is an excellent choice for your Galapagos Islands adventure. Aqua can accommodate up to 16 guests in 8 comfortable and bright cabins, which feature either double, twin and triple bed configurations. Each cabin has a private en-suite, AC, and storage space. The boat has numerous areas where you can socialize with your fellow guests. These include the comfortable sundeck at the front of the ship, the spacious rooftop sundeck (complete with sunloungers), and the shaded outdoor lounge. There is also an air-conditioned indoor saloon that is stylishly decked out in warm wood paneling and which features a TV and small library. Your freshly prepared meals will be enjoyed in the clean and elegant restaurant-style dining room. The dive deck is large and functional, with a central camera table and individual gear bins under the seats so you can easily keep track of your gear. Nitrox is available for an additional fee. Aqua offers 3, 4, and 7-night naturalist itineraries around the archipelago. Most trips include diving but some do not so be sure to check before you book! Her diving trips depart from and return to Baltra. As the dives are not suitable for beginners, Aqua requires divers to hold their Advanced Open Water qualification and at least 50 logged dives. Pros Visits Wolf and Darwin Islands Private ensuite cabins Reasonable price Cons Not beginner-friendly No wifi Additional cost for nitrox AC Yes # Divers 16 Wifi No Nitrox Extra Drinks Extra Price Low Visit Website Galapagos Sky The Galapagos Sky is one of the most expensive options on the list, but the comfort and luxury found on this liveaboard (as well as alcoholic beverages and nitrox included in the price…) make it a worthy investment. She can accommodate up to 16 guests in 8 cabins. All cabins feature ensuite bathrooms, wardrobes, hairdryers, air conditioning, and complimentary robes and toiletries. The spacious sundeck is the decked out with grass (ok, it’s not real grass…), sun loungers and hammocks. There is also a pleasant shaded sofa area with a bar if you would rather not sunbathe. The indoor salon is air-conditioned and roomy, fully fitted out with warm wood paneling and wall-to-wall sofas. The restaurant-style dining room is luxurious and has excellent ocean views. The buffet food served is fresh and combines local and western food. There is also a comprehensive wine list and snacks are available all day. The dive deck is spacious and set up for stress-free diving. Each diver will be given an individual station for their gear and tanks. A large camera table and rinse tanks make it easy to maintain your equipment whilst a dive tender will ferry you easily to each dive site. Nitrox is available at no extra cost. The Galapagos Sky offers 7-night itineraries through the archipelago, including Wolf and Darwin Islands. She departs from and returns to San Cristobal. Due to the advanced nature of the dives, divers are required to hold their Advanced Open Water qualification and have at least 60 logged dives. Pros Private, luxury cabins Full board included in price Sundeck and BBQ area Cons Not beginner-friendly No wifi available Higher cost AC Yes # Divers 16 Wifi No Nitrox Yes Drinks Yes Price High Visit Website Galapagos Master The Galapagos Master liveaboard combines affordability with luxury. The Galapagos Master has been refurbished recently and the sleek style is evident throughout the vessel. She can accommodate up to 16 guests in 8 cabins. Each cabin boasts air-conditioning, ensuites, storage, and double or twin beds. The social areas include a rooftop sundeck, with plenty of loungers for topping up that tan! There is also a rooftop bar to enjoy a cocktail whilst you watch the sunset. Meanwhile, the outdoor lounge offers a more shaded relaxation option. The indoor saloon has panoramic windows, for the very best views, as well as abundant comfortable sofas. In the dining room, you will enjoy all your freshly-cooked, buffet-style meals that blend local and western cuisine. The dive deck is open and spacious, with individual gear stations that make gearing up easy. Fresh, warm water showers, rinse tanks and a 2-tier camera table are also available on deck. Nitrox is available for an extra fee. The Galapagos Master offers 7 and 10-night itineraries that depart from San Cristobal. Each trip spends at least 2 days at the infamous Wolf and Darwin Islands. With up to 4 dives a day at some of the most epic and challenging dive sites on the planet, you need to have an Advanced Open Water qualification and at least 50 logged dives before you can book. Pros Spacious dive deck Rooftop bar Visits Wolf and Darwin Islands Cons Not beginner-friendly No wifi Extra cost for nitrox AC Yes # Divers 16 Wifi No Nitrox Extra Drinks Extra Price Avg Visit Website Galapagos Aggressor III Part of the globe-spanning Aggressor liveaboard fleet, the Galapagos Aggressor III is an excellent, reliable option. Their crew of 9 is always on hand to ensure your comfort and satisfaction. Up to 16 divers can be accommodated in 8 newly renovated staterooms. Each one boasts a private ensuite bathroom, storage space, a window, air-conditioning, and TV/DVD player. The cabins are beautifully decked out in warm wood paneling and have a pleasant, cozy atmosphere. The rooftop sundeck has plentiful comfortable loungers, ideal for sunbathing in between dives. There is also a jacuzzi which is great for unwinding in the evening – with a cocktail from the rooftop bar in hand! The inner air-conditioned saloon has comfortable sofas as well as an entertainment system and a small library. There are interior and alfresco dining areas, where you will enjoy your fresh meals which are served buffet style. The cuisine combines local and western fare and is expertly prepared. Alcoholic drinks are complimentary and are included in the price. The dive deck is wide and spacious, with individual gear bins, a large swim platform, a 2-tier dive table, warm water showers and rinse bins. There is also nitrox available if you wish to use it. The Galapagos Aggressor III runs 7-night itineraries, departing from Baltra. Each cruise visits the world-famous Wolf and Darwin Islands. Unlike the other vessels, she will take Open Water qualified divers and there is no minimum dive requirement. Pros Spacious dive deck Rooftop jacuzzi All-inclusive board Cons Not beginner-friendly Extra cost for wifi Extra cost for gear rental AC Yes # Divers 16 Wifi Extra Nitrox Yes Drinks Yes Price Avg Visit Website When to Visit the Galapagos islands Whilst it is possible to dive in the Galapagos Islands all year round, the year is divided into two distinct seasons. The warmer season is between December and May, where the water temperature ranges between 23 and 25 degrees Celcius. This is the calmest time of the year – with the best chance of flat, serene seas. However, it is also the rainiest time, with many short, sharp downpours. This is the busiest time of the year, especially over Christmas and New Year. It’s popular because it is the best time of year to see manta rays, who are attracted to the dense plankton found in the warmer water. It is also the best time of year to see schooling hammerheads as well as mating marine iguanas and blue-footed boobies. From June to November, the water can drop to as low as 15 degrees Celsius – though around 22 is more common. Plenty of sharks including hammerheads can be seen throughout the season. This is the best time of year to see whale sharks who are drawn to the cool upwellings around Wolf and Darwin Islands. Bear in mind, these upwellings can cause the water to get really cold, so investing in the best wetsuit you can find is a great idea! Scuba Diving In the Galapagos islands In the Galapagos, there are 4 inhabited islands: Isabela, Floreana, San Cristobal, and Santa Cruz. Each island has numerous dive centers and dive resorts from which you can explore the fantastic local diving. However, many of the most famous dive sites in the Galapagos are extremely remote and only accessible on a liveaboard. The most famous (and arguably the best!) are Wolf and Darwin Islands, though there are dozens of other excellent sites. There are many dive sites around the Galapagos that are suitable for beginners and there are plenty of dive centers that will even run open water courses. But… Conditions Many of the most epic dive sites are really best suited to at least experienced or advanced divers. This is mostly due to the conditions, which can be unpredictable and challenging. Surface swell, up and downdrafts, deep water, and strong drifts are all easily surmountable issues – if you have the knowledge and skills to stay safe. You can also help yourself to be prepared with the best equipment you can get. A great pair of fins will help you fight the current more easily. Diving on nitrox can make you feel less tired and allows you to stay at depth for longer, without straying into your no-deco time. And, of course, a great dive computer is indispensable on liveaboards. They allow you to track your surface intervals and no-deco time accurately, as well as being an important safety device. Newer models, like the Suunto D5, allow you to store your dives in the smartphone app – so you can make a note of the seriously epic dives you’re going to experience in the Galapagos! Marine Life Wherever you dive in the Galapagos, you will be spoilt with exceptional views and a huge array of wildlife – some of which are found nowhere else on earth. The fish and macro life is exceptional in the Galapagos and bringing your own dive camera is a great idea! But what the Galapagos is really famous for is the pelagic life… There are over 30 different species of sharks in the Galapagos, including silky, Galapagos, and reef varieties as well as the gently gigantic whale sharks and dramatically silhouetted hammerheads which can be seen in huge schools. If the sharks weren’t enough for you, you can also see sea lions, manta rays, eagle rays, penguins, turtles, marine iguanas, dolphins, and even the occasional pilot whale or orca. You know, for a bit of variety! Many liveaboards also offer land excursions as part of their package. These are a fantastic opportunity to explore one of the most unique regions of the world which have had such a huge historic and biological impact. The nature above sea level is just as beautiful as below – you really are in for a treat! Conclusion Scuba diving in the Galapagos is something that every ever should experience at least once. The sheer volume and variety of marine life alone make this one of the best diving locations on the planet – and a liveaboard is one of the best ways to do that! Tick numerous creatures off your diving bucket list, dive some of the most famous sites in the world, and have an awesome adventure onboard a luxury yacht. It sounds like a pretty sweet deal to us! Looking for more diving adventures in Central America and love pelagics? Why not check out the best liveaboards in Costa Rica? Author Details Rachel Thannhauser Administrator Rachel is a divemaster and full-time writer from Southampton, England. She loves the ocean, CrossFit, cooking, and travelling as much as possible – pandemics allowing! email Rachel.email@example.com follow me Leave a Reply Cancel replyYour email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *Comment Name * Email * Website Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment.