Galapagos Dive Info & Gear Recommendations

Dive Skills: Diving the Galapagos is for advanced divers.  It is recommended that you have an AOW or higher certification and 100 logged dives.  Having said that, liveaboards will allow any certified diver aboard. It depends on your comfort level in the water.  Some may be more skilled with 20 logged dives than others with 400 logged dives.  Please note that final discretion about your ability to dive is up to the dive guides.   It’s not a given that conditions will be extremely challenging, but it’s a definite possibility.  Divers must be able to handle rapid descents, diving in 2-4 knot currents and down currents.  All diving is done from an inflatable, which are called pangas.  Think Zodiac RIB.  All diving is no decompression diving.  All dives are lead by National Park Marine Reserve certified dive guides.  Divers are responsible for themselves.  You must be able to call a dive if you are uncomfortable for any reason. 

Exposure Protection:  We recommend a 7mm wetsuit, hood and gloves (for protection, not warmth).  Water temps are warmer at Darwin than other dive sites, however, dives at Darwin often involve as much as 25 minutes of stationary time which can cause you to feel cooler than when you are in motion.  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 often have barnacles which will cut your hands if you’re not wearing gloves.  So you do need gloves, but for protection, not warmth.  We recommend 1.5-2mm gloves with kevlar or reinforced palms.

Dive Gear: Please note that dive computers are mandatory equipment and available to rent if you don’t have one.  Dive alerts and surface marker buoys are mandatory as per the National Park regulations.  SMBs are available though you are encouraged to bring your own.  Provided is the standard dive alert which does not fit all BCDs.  Please check your model prior to arrival and bring your own dive alert if a standard won’t fit. Full equipment rental is also available, though back inflate BCDs are rare.  Attached snorkels are not recommended due to the possibility of strong current causing mask leaks.  If you prefer to use a snorkel, it is better to bring a collapsible one to put in your BCD pocket for use at the surface.  Lanterns are optional.

All tanks are AL80’s with yoke valves.  If your regulator is DIN, please bring your own adaptor. Nitrox mix is 32%.  Nitrox analyzers are onboard for shared use. Weights are approximately 1.8 kilos / 3.96 pounds each.  Between the 7mm and the higher salinity of the sea water in Galapagos, you will probably use more weight than you are accustomed to using.  Weight belts are onboard if your BCD is not weight integrated.

Liveaboards have some tools aboard, but please bring your own replacement parts: spare batteries, extra masks/straps, special O rings, weight pockets, etc. Please ask about EPIRBS and other safety equipment as it does vary from boat to boat.  We recommend the slender Trident underwater aluminum noisemaker as a piece of safety equipment.  The size easily fits inside your wetsuit sleeve.  It is only to be used should you require assistance underwater.  It is not to be used for sightings.  A noisemaker for sighting purposes is only to be used by our dive guides.  Because it is only used by guides, everyone does seek out the sound which is why it's a useful safety device.

Clothing:  In spite of being on the equator, it is not as warm as most expect.  Darwin called it the coldest place on the equator.  We assume he meant at sea level and between the months of June and Nov.  Also, after multiple dives or cold thermoclines, you'll feel chilled. We recommend light weight, long pants and long sleeve shirts. Shorts can be worn, but bear in mind, the one thing people always seem to say is that they wish they had brought some warmer clothing. Between June and Nov, do bring a fleece, jacket or sweatshirt to use after dives. Shorts/athletic pants and a light sweatshirt are perfect for the evenings.  Sports sandals or sneakers are fine for your land visit. Crocs, neoprene shoes, flip flops or even slippers are appropriate onboard. 

Notes on Packing:

  • Please DO NOT over-pack.  We highly recommend soft sided luggage rather than hard cases.  It’s much easier to handle and store.  You need almost nothing while on the boat diving.   Towels are provided aboard.   If you are packing more than a medium-sized duffle bag (in addition to your dive gear), you have probably over-packed.   If your travel plans include other than your dive cruise, it is always best to try to leave what you don’t need in storage at your hotel on the mainland.  In Guayaquil, there is a storage facility in the airport. 
  • Do bring a hat that will protect you against the sun.  Do bring sunscreen.  Please bring biodegradable toiletries if possible. A hanging toiletry kit is usually good to have rather than spreading your things around in a shared cabin.
  • Bring any prescription medications you might need as well as over the counter items like seasickness medication, Sudafed, pain relief, etc.  Many over-the-counter meds are not available in Ecuador. Vasoline is always handy in the event you rent gear and end up with a rash from rub.  Dive skins are also good to prevent this and as sun protection.
  • If you have a dry bag, do bring it for land cameras, etc.  It’s helpful to bring a few ziplock bags to protect small items you wish to have accessible as well as a small dry box for anything that may be damaged by water.
  • Bring rechargeable batteries and the charging unit for your camera.  Liveaboards do have charging tables and again, currency is the same as the US.  
  • If you have a small mesh bag, it can be quite handy for storing your odds and ends at your dive station. 
  • Please be sure to bring your Certification Card, your Nitrox Certification card if you plan to dive Nitrox, your log book and a copy of your cruise application and waiver.  All liveaboards do require you submit your application and waiver when you board.  If you didn't make a copy, you will need to fill another one out.
Of Note:
  • Dive Insurance is mandatory.  Check with Diver's Alert Network. We do not sell dive insurance.
  • Computers are mandatory.  Rentals are available.
  • Dive Alerts and SMBs are mandatory, however liveaboards do have Dive Alerts and SMBs onboard for your use. Dive Alerts are standard and do not fit every BCD.  Bring your own if standard does not fit your BCD. 
  • Tanks are AL80s with yoke valves.  If your regulator is DIN, please bring your own adaptor.
  • Nitrox certification is usually available onboard with advance notification.
  • Liveaboards have some tools, but please bring your own spare parts, batteries, etc.
  • Again, please bring copies of your cruise application and waiver to present onboard.
  • Fuel surcharge(on the Humboldt) is payable in advance by request or onboard.
  • Credit cards are usually accepted onboard, but 12% VAT will be added to all purchases.
  • Gratuities are voluntary and based on service received. The recommended gratuity is 10% of the price of your trip to be shared by all crew members.  You will receive an envelope for your gratuity towards the end of the trip.
  • Itineraries are subject to the regulations of the Galapagos National Park and may change at any time without prior notification.