Scuba Diving in Ecuador

Ecuador is a magnificent country located on the Pacific coast of South America. It also includes the Galápagos Islands which are almost one thousand kilometres away from Ecuador. This archipelago consists of 19 volcanic islands and is full of reefs and dive sites that would take your breath away. The main local feature is the sea dwellers. The variety of marine animals is impressive: here you can find unique creatures, for example, Galapagos turtles, hammerhead sharks, Californian bull sharks, or visit such incredible places as the underwater volcano Roca Redonda or Cape Rosa. The infrastructure is rather poorly developed on the islands, however, you can go on an exciting diving safari directly from Quito (Spanish: San Francisco de Quito), the capital of Ecuador.

Reasons to Visit

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Despite the small territory, Darwin Island is a great place for diving. You could swim with fur seals while observing huge whales and sea iguanas. The El Arco site is ideal for diving. Here you could come face to face with hammerhead sharks and whale sharks, eagle rays and horse-eyed jacks. You can visit deep colourful rock crevices at Cape Rosa. You could also come across a marine turtle or hurrying away penguins.
The Galapagos Islands are a shark paradise. Hammerhead sharks and silky sharks could be found here. The sharks tend to prefer these islands due to strong underwater currents. Galapagos shark is the symbol of these parts; this species is very common in the tropics, but it was first described near the Galapagos shores. They can be up to 3-3,5 meters long and usually gather in large shivers.
Various sea dwellers make the islands of Ecuador particularly popular. There are butterflyfish, barracudas, eagle rays, golden stingrays, and green turtles resting on flat underwater rocks, as well as sea iguanas and reef snappers. Sea lions and earless seals could be seen swimming right next to you and a great number of small fish, which inhabit the coral reefs.
The whale sharks are always drifting past the islands. Most of them can be seen from September mid-autumn. A whale shark is a unique animal, much is still unknown about its life. It is 12 to 15 meters in length on average and feeds on plankton. This predator looks more like a whale than a shark. Every diver simply has to swim next to this giant as they ignore humans so you can even touch it.
Five ocean currents of different temperatures largely contribute to the number of marine dwellers of the islands, but they are also a real challenge for divers. In order to enjoy the variety of local marine flora and fauna, scuba divers have to press themselves against the rocks, crawl through the seaweed and fight strong currents from all sides. It is a true challenge even for experienced divers!

Diving Destinations in Ecuador

The main dive spots of Ecuador are on the Galápagos Islands. Santa Cruz Island is the biggest and the most famous of all. Here you could come across coral reef fish, rays, moray eels, giant marine turtles and sharks. There is a chance to see huge shivers of sharks near Wolf Island and Darwin Island in the north. Diving near Gordon Rocks, which are remains of an extinct volcano, is also interesting. Beyond the crater, the depth increases up to 80 metres.

Memo Notes
Currency USD - United States dollar
Languages Spanish
Timezone UTC -5
Phone code 593
Emergency Help 911
Electricity

Type A - 120 V, 60 Hz

Type B - 120 V, 60 Hz

Dive Shops in Ecuador

The infrastructure of the Galápagos Islands is poorly developed: there are no large dive shops. If you are visiting for a few days, you will have to stay the nights aboard a ship. It is better to bring your own equipment or rent it from the dive shops.

Сlimate & Seasonality
Spring

Spring is rainier than other seasons, however, it is popular among tourists. The air temperature varies from +23 to 24 °C. The water temperature in the ocean is about +25 °C which is comfortable for diving.

Summer

June marks the beginning of the dry season in most territories of Ecuador. It is also a bit cooler than in previous months: daytime air temperature is roughly +23 °С, while the ocean is no warmer than +22 °С. It also gets thickly foggy on the islands.

Autumn

The dry season in Ecuador stretches all the way till autumn, although it still rains in certain areas. The temperature sits between +22-23 °C, the beaches are still chilly but it is not a problem for diving.

Winter

Winter in Ecuador is more like summer: December brings warmer weather and the tourism season begins. In January the temperature reaches 25 °C, it is dry and hot. The weather on the Galápagos Islands stays favourable until the end of February, although rainfall is possible.

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The Best Dive Sites

A very popular dive site is Santa Cruz Island where you can see silvertip reef sharks. Isabela Island has five active volcanoes also deserves attention. It is home to the biggest colony of giant turtles, iguanas of different colours and penguins. Cousins Rock has a perfect landscape for underwater photography — an amazing combination of black corals, sea sponges and gorgonians.

Health & Safety

The quality of medical services provided in private hospitals in Quito (Spanish: San Francisco de Quito) and Guayaquil is high. The healthcare facilities outside these regions and on the Galápagos Islands are very limited. However, getting treated in private clinics could get quite expensive. The doctors expect payment in cash before treatment even in case of an emergency. Malaria, yellow fever and Zika virus are wide-spread here. Ecuador is a medium risk country with regards to the crime rate, but there are occasional thefts and robberies. Protect yourself by using common sense: do not return to your hotel late at night and avoid getting in cars with strangers

Dangerous Marine Life

The Galápagos Islands are attractive because of the absence of dangerous predators and other animals which could create dangerous situations. Of course, there are sharks. but diving in specially designated places will keep you safe from bloodthirsty species.

Eat & Drinks

After diving both locals and tourists enjoy having some traditional Ecuadorian food. It features potato soup called Locro de papas. The dish includes corn, peas and avocado. It is served with grated cheese. We also recommend you to try ceviche with fresh seafood pickled in lime juice and hot pepper, and patacon — traditional fried bananas. As for alcoholic beverages, tourists prefer wine made from Muscat grapes — Pisco. Only bottled water should be consumed in Ecuador.