Top Ten Reef Dives

A Diving Evolution: Galapagos, Ecuador

The water can be chilly and the visibility less than ideal, but the Galapagos Islands offer aquatic attractions that can't be found anywhere else. There really isn't a real reef here, but the unique experience this destination offers deserves inclusion into any top tens.

It was in these remote islands, 600 miles west of Ecuador, that Charles Darwin found inspiration for his theory of evolution. And the waters are a fantasy world for divers accustomed to nothing but small fish. Along with thick schools of tropicals, there are numerous sea turtles, sea lions, and large pelagics. Various dive sites have their own special attractions—sharks, penguins, or even the marine iguanas, remarkable creatures found nowhere else on earth.

Nothing can prepare you for your first underwater encounter with an iguana. With their humanlike limbs, they look like small green frogmen. Unafraid and largely uninterested in humans, they permit divers to approach very closely as they bottom-feed. It's tough diving, however, as the iguanas stick to shallow waters with lots of surge.

The Galapagos’ wilderness preserve status keeps the water free of commercial fishing and the land immune to resorts. Thus, all diving is done on a liveaboard basis.


Sign up to Away's Travel Insider

Preview newsletter »