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1.212.245.1211

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FAQ

Basic Info

What money is used in Ecuador?

Ecuador is on the US dollar system. Even coins can be used. Bring small bills ($20 or less) for expenses prior to boarding as change is not always available. 

What is the currency of Ecuador?

The standard currency in Ecuador is 110 volt, same as the US.

How is the weather in Galapagos?

Dec – May is our warm season with more sunshine and higher air/water temps. Average air temperature ranges from 80-87 F / 26-31 C. February and March are the warmest months.

June – Nov is the cooler season. Garua, a light mist, is often present, creating overcast days. Winds during this time of year can create choppier seas. Average air temperatures range from of 67-78 F / 20 -26C.

Galapagos waters are cool, even though the archipelago straddles the equator. Cold water currents and upwellings can produce thermoclines as low as 13 C / 54 F. The average surface temp is 21-24C / 70-74F, warmer at Darwin. Western sites (Cabo Douglas and Punta Vicente Roca) as well as Cousins Rock in the central islands have cooler water year round.

What time zone is Galapagos in?

-6 GMT. No daylight savings time. Half the year, Ecuador is the same as Chicago, IL (CST), the other half of the year, it is the same as New York City (EST). The Galapagos are 1 hour behind mainland Ecuador.

Travel Info

Do I need a Visa to enter Ecuador?

No visa is necessary from most countries, only the following: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Cuba, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Nepal, Nigeria, North Korea, Pakistan, Senegal and Somalia. This is always subject to change, so best to check the Ecuador Embassy website in your home country. You are allowed to stay up to 60 days in any 12 month period. The timing is from when you arrive into Galapagos. It does not turn over for the calendar year.

Your passport MUST have 6 months remaining prior to expiration at the time you enter Ecuador. You must have a round trip (return) or onward ticket.

Are there any travel advisories?

As travel advisories are always subject to change, please refer to any travel advisories issued by your own country’s authorities. If something specific arises, we will post it on our blog which will then appear on our home page.

Do I need any vaccinations to enter Ecuador?

COVID: Currently you do still need to present proof of your COVID vaccination or a negative PCR test to enter Ecuador.

To fly into a mainland airport and visit Galapagos, no vaccinations are necessary. A Yellow Fever Vaccination is usually advised if you plan to visit the Amazon.

Health Risks: While Galapagos, Quito and Guayaquil tend to be relatively disease free, dengue can be a risk on land. There is no vaccination against dengue, however, wearing long sleeves and using a DEET based repellent are good preventative measures.

What do I need to bring?

Do I need insurance?

Dive insurance is mandatory on most liveaboards. We recommend Divers Alert Network. If you live in a country where DAN is not available, please check with your provider to make sure your policy has both recompression chamber and evacuation coverage.

Though travel insurance is not required, it is recommended in the event you have to cancel your departure due to illness, loss of employment or in the event you miss your connecting flight which causes you to miss your departure. Please read the fine print. What you assume is covered may not be.

Should I arrive a day early?

While the vast majority of divers arrive the evening before their flight to Galapagos and have no problem at all, there are those who arrive only to learn their luggage was not onboard their international flight. For those unfortunate few, it can create a big problem.

It may be logistically impossible to collect your luggage once your liveaboard has sailed. If your bags don’t come with you to Galapagos, you may not get them until you disembark a week later.

So, it is always safer to arrive early if for no other reason than to make certain your luggage arrives, too. Most arriving international guests appreciate the opportunity to rest and relax prior to diving.
We can arrange hotels and day tours in Quito or Guayaquil.

If you are planning to add an extension in the Amazon to your holiday, we recommend visiting the Amazon before Galapagos. You might be disappointed in the Amazon after the fearlessness of the wildlife in Galapagos.

Where do I fly into?

Ecuador has 2 international airports: Quito (airport code UIO) and Guayaquil (airport code GYE). Most international flights arrive in the evening, so an overnight hotel is in order upon arrival.

Quito is the newer airport, located approximately 70 minutes outside the city. Quito is at an altitude of 2850 m / 9350 ft, so if you suffer from altitude sickness, you may want to consider only airlines that fly into Guayaquil, which is at sea level and in town. Most hotels are 10 minutes away.

All flights to Galapagos from Quito route through Guayaquil. You do not deplane and the wait is typically 30 minutes.

You fly from mainland Ecuador into either San Cristobal airport in Galapagos (airport code SCY) or Baltra Airport (airport code GPS) depending on which port your liveaboard departs from.

Departs from San Cristobal: Calipso, Humboldt Explorer, Galapagos Master and Galapagos Sky.
Departs from Baltra: Aggressor, Aqua and Tiburon Explorer.

How much are flights to Galapagos?

Prices fluctuate. They may range from $420 – $550 return. Please check for the latest pricing. Please be aware that some prices are for nationals of Ecuador only. If you purchased the wrong fare (for nationals, not foreigners) online, you will be required to pay the difference in fares when you check in for your flight.

Can you recommend hotels?

Of course. If you are simply flying into Ecuador for an overnight upon arrival, we recommended the following:

Near the Quito Airport:
Wyndham Quito Airport
Holiday Inn Quito
EB Hotel Quito

In Guayaquil:
Holiday Inn Guayaquil
Wyndham Garden Guayaquil
Hostal Macaw

If I arrive into Galapagos early, how do I connect with my liveaboard?

It’s easy in San Cristobal. You just head to the dock at the departure time and join those coming in from the airport. If you are in Santa Cruz, it will depend, but typically the best way is to head back out to Baltra Airport and meet the incoming passengers. We’ll be happy to coordinate either for you.

Diving Info

When is the best time to dive Galapagos?

High season is June – December. The polar Humboldt currents runs up the coast of South America and brings an abundance of nutrients which creates an explosion of marine life. This is when the massive female Whale Sharks migrate through Darwin and Wolf. Traditionally the largest populations of whale sharks have been in August and September, but climate change seems to be altering the previously dependable trends. For example, this year, 2022, divers at Darwin were treated to 17-30 whale shark sightings. We will see how the rest of the year plays out relative to past norms. Hammerhead populations are also more numerous during high season.

Currents are stronger at this time of year, air and water temps are lower, seas are choppier and visibility is diminished, however, how far you can see doesn’t really matter when you have hundreds of hammerheads or a 60 ft / 18 m whale shark 15 ft/5 mts in front or beside you. Trust me when I tell you, you don’t care about what’s in the water on the other side of such majestic sightings. It is often overcast or misty (garua) during the time of year, so jackets are needed for warmth.

Low season is January – May when seas are calmer, water temperatures are warmer and visibility is better. No whale sharks, usually, but again, things seem to be shifting from the norm. All other sharks and marine life are present, the typical cast of critters in Galapagos. February and March tend to be the hottest months of the year, no jackets and you will be using the AC inside your cabin. Traditionally late February to mid-April, hammerhead populations are diminished as they migrate away before returning in large numbers in May.

Some call this Manta season. It could be that because visibility is better in low season, they’re easier to see. Something most don’t realize is that the Manabi coast of mainland Ecuador has the largest annual migration of mantas in the world between June and Sept.

Sharks are in Galapagos year round, but to see the maximum populations, best to dive during high season.

What is the minimum age for divers?

Children 15 years and up who are certified and have the prerequisite number of logged dives may dive when accompanied by an experienced diving parent.

What experience is required to dive Galapagos?

Diving in the Galapagos is advanced due to strong currents, varying visibility and cold water. We recommend 50 dives between Dec and May and 100 dives between June and Nov. You need Nitrox certification especially if you are on the lower end of dive experience. Some Liveaboards require a minimum of 100 logged dives year round.

What dive gear do you recommend?

We recommend a 7mm wetsuit, gloves and open heel fins with booties. Some may need a hood or beanie, some may not. It is best to have it in case you need it. The western itinerary sites and Cousins Rock can be rather cold water, as low as 15 C / 60 F. Darwin is the warmest site in the Galapagos due to the tropical Panama current, however, dives at Darwin often involve as long as 25 minutes of stationary time. You may feel cooler than when you are in motion. 

Gloves are needed for protection, not warmth. You descend through current, grab hold of rocks on the platform and watch the show as it passes by except when chasing whale sharks.  The rocks you grab have barnacles that will cut your hands if you’re not wearing gloves.  We recommend 1.5-2mm gloves with reinforced palms. 

Snorkels are not recommended due to the possibility of strong current tugging the snorkel and causing mask leaks.  If you wish to dive with a snorkel, it is better to bring a collapsible one to put in your BCD pocket for use at the surface. 

Is rental gear available?

Rental gear is available. Pricing depends on the liveaboard you book, but most run in the range of $250-$275 for a full kit. Some include a computer. Others charge $75-$100 for the week for a computer.

Is rebreather or tech diving available?

The quick answer is no, however, upon occasion there are dedicated rebreather departures. No liveaboard in Galapagos has ongoing rebreather support.

Is free diving possible?

Not in the northern islands of Darwin and Wolf, but free diving is possible from land.

Is there night diving?

Yes, bring your torch! There are 2 sites where night dives are permitted. One is at Wolf and the other is at Cabo Marshall. Which will depend on the liveaboard you book. We also have a small swim through at Wolf which is so much more beautiful with a torch.

What is ratio of divers to dive guides?

There is 1 dive guide per 8 divers.

May I hire a private dive guide?

The answer is usually yes, however, some liveaboards may not be able to accommodate the extra guide. If you lack enough experience or are not yet comfortable when diving, hiring a guide is a very good idea. The cost is usually $1750 for the week which is $250 a day.

Booking Info

What is the booking process?

Step 1: Find the departure date and liveaboard of your choice and request to hold space. We will put a complimentary hold on your space for 3 days so you have time to look for flights, coordinate your dates away from work, etc. Then you either confirm your space or release the hold.

Step 2: Once you have confirmed your space, we move on to your invoice. The first thing we need is your name, address, phone and email. It’s a formality for the invoice as we don’t actually mail anything to you or call you unless you want to speak with us.

Step 3: Your invoice will indicate the due date of your payment(s) and whether it is payable with a deposit or due at the time of invoice. You make payment. We update your invoice to reflect payments made.

Step 4: We will send you the diver booking form and waiver that you complete and return to us.

Step 5: The Fun Part. You arrive, dive, get the biggest thrills and best photos of your life and already want to come back before you even leave.

What forms of payment do you accept?

We accept cash or a check at any branch of Bank of America, bank transfer, transferwise.com or Visa, Mastercard and Discover.

What happens if I need to cancel?

This gets tricky. It will depend on which liveaboard you booked. Some are more generous with reimbursement of deposits than others. When you are ready to book, we will certainly let you know your liveaboard’s policies.

We do recommend travel insurance to be sure you don’t lose any funds if you have to cancel for any reason.