Scuba Diving Ecuador
Named one of the Seven Underwater Wonders of the World by CEDAM international (Conservation, Education, Diving, Awareness and Marine research), the Galapagos waters will make you wish that you could somehow shout out through your regulator to your diving partners all the wonders you see.
Ecuador is an ocean lover’s paradise, packed with tons of beautiful beaches, thick mangroves, lowland rainforests and the spectacular flora and fauna of Galápagos Islands.
But, literally, that just scratches the surface. Beneath the waves, hidden from ordinary sight, is a world that is truly extraordinary. Ecuador’s Pacific ocean teems with a marine bounty few other countries possess, and if you are a scuba diver you will be astonished at the sheer spectacle that awaits you.
The seas here are richly nourished by the Humboldt Current, whose upwelling pulls nutrients off the ocean bottom, producing dense plankton blooms which attract some the ocean’s top predators, including manta rays, whales, sharks, tuna, and sea turtles, along with the prey they feed upon.
Every year from June to October hundreds of humpback whales from the southern oceans breed along the central and southern coasts of Ecuador. Open water divers can “catch a ride” with enormous whale sharks and manta rays as they also migrate through the area during this time.
The biggest mega diversity of the planet has its home in Ecuador, the middle of the world. With a privileged climate and the most amazing landscapes, the essence of Latin America fuses itself to create an unforgettable and unique destination. Islands, jungles, mountains and seas. Four worlds are waiting for you.
Ecuador has two principal areas for diving: For divers, the regions of most interest are the Galapagos Islands and the Machalilla Marine Park on the mainland, 200km north-east of the main port of Guayaquil. Currents can be strong, so it’s not a destination for novice divers.
The Mainland Ecuador – While the Galápagos has Ecuador’s best diving, the mainland coast has its share of great dive spots. Isla de la Plata known as the “poor man’s Galápagos,” only 2 hours boat ride from Puerto López. The island is a perfect location for both diving and snorkeling. Serious scuba divers will find excellent diving services here as well. And from June to October, dive trips to the island can be complemented with whale watching. Isla de la Plata is home to many peculiar birds: blue-footed, red-footed, and Nazca boobies, magnificent frigatebirds, waved albatrosses, tropicbirds and peruvian pelicans. Isla de la Plata has established trails that a guide will walk you through.
The Galápagos Islands – Located 1,000 kilometers (600 miles) west of the mainland, are undoubtedly the crown jewel of scuba diving in Ecuador. This archipelago, made famous by Charles Darwin with the publication of his book On the Origin of Species in 1859, is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is considered one of the Seven Wonders of the World. MORE INFO.
The two best-known dive sites on the Galapagos Islands are Darwin Island and Wolf Island. Darwin Island is in the far north of the archipelago, and is famous for its shark population: huge shoals of whale shark, hammerheads and Galapagos shark.
Wolf Island is also another divers’ favorite, with plenty of shark action again, plus eagle rays and dolphins.
CLIMATE: Varies by region, due to differences in altitude and, to a degree, in proximity to the equator.
High Season (Jun-Sep)
- Sunny, clear days in the highlands; less rain in the Oriente.
- December to April is high season on the coast: expect warm temperatures and periodic showers.
- January to May is high season in the Galápagos.
Shoulder Season (Oct-Nov)
- Cooler temperatures, more showers (usually sun in the morning and rain in the afternoon) in the highlands.
Low Season (Dec-May)
- Cooler, rainier days in the highlands.
- June to December is low season in the Galápagos, with cooler, drier weather and rougher seas.
- Low season is April to July in the Oriente, when heavy rains are common.
LANGUAGE: Spanish is the official language, with Quechua, Quichua, other indigenous languages
ELECTRICITY: 110v and 60Hz Outlets are single phase two wire.
CURRENCY & CREDIT CARDS: American dollar. ATM network in all cities. Many locals accept Visa, Master Card, American Express, Diners Club..
GRATUITIES: Better restaurants add a 12% tax and a 10% service charge to the bill. If the service has been satisfactory, add another 5% for the waiter. Live-Aboards expect a Gratuity
PHONE: To call Ecuador from abroad you must dial the international access code (011 in the United States and Canada) followed by Ecuador’s country code (593), followed by the two-digit area code (see the chart below), and finally the number (six digits).
INTERNET SERVICEI nternet cafes are becoming more and more common throughout Ecuador, especially in Quito. Internet Cafes are most plentiful in the La Mariscal, Quito’s main tourist and commercial district.
VISAS: No visas are required to visit Ecuador for a period of 90 days per year. Most travelers entering Ecuador as tourists, including citizens of Australia, New Zealand, Japan, the EU, Canada and the USA, do not require visas. Upon entry, they will be issued a T-3 embarkation card valid for 90 days. Residents from a handful of African and Asian countries (including China) require visas.
PASSPORT REQUIREMENTS: All nationals entering as tourists need a passport that is valid for at least six months after arrival. You are legally required to have your passport on you at all time.
GETTING THERE: Ecuador has two international airports. Quito’s new Aeropuerto Internacional de Quito is located about 38km east of the center. Guayaquil’s Aeropuerto José Joaquín de Olmedo is just a few kilometers from downtown.
CUSTOMS: Each traveler is able to import 1 L of spirits and 300 cigarettes duty-free. There is no problem in bringing in the usual types of personal belongings.
NOTE: Pre-Columbian artifacts and endangered-animal products, which includes mounted butterflies and beetles, are not allowed to be taken out of Ecuador or imported into most other countries
DEPARTURE TAX: International departure tax from Guayaquil airport is now $27.15 and from Quito airport $40.80. This used to be paid at the airport, in cash, in US dollars, but for several years now it is included in your flight ticket – check with your travel agent to make sure.
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