The Galapagos Islands are a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and a protected marine park. Located off the coast of Ecuador in the Pacific Ocean, these islands are famous for the many different endemic species which live there, and were used by Charles Darwin during his research visit in 1835 as prime examples for the theory of evolution through natural selection. For divers Galapagos is one of, if not thee, top big fish destinations in the World and is atop everyone's short list of places to visit before dying.
What makes Galapagos so special is that the islands are situated within the meeting place of 3 separate Pacific Ocean currents; the Humboldt, the Panama, and the Cromwell. As these currents become more or less prevalent throughout the year, sea temperatures and weather conditions change locally. Also, the mixing of these different currents create extremely unique underwater conditions which help to sustain an amazing abundance of marine life as found only in Galapagos.
From June to November the Humboldt current brings colder, highly nutrient rich waters up the coast of South America from Antarctica. Although this season is considered relatively dry, the cooler waters create fog which hangs over the islands with high humidity that causes frequent drizzles during the day. The water temperatures drop to between 16 C and 24 C, with October to December the coldest. However, this is also the best season for encounters with fully matured Whale sharks, and the number of schooling hammerheads tend to be at a maximum during these months.
As the southern Humboldt current subsides, the warmer Panama current from the east begins to dominate starting in January through to May. These months are characterised by warmer overall conditions with water temperatures from 21 C to 27 C, and clear sunny skies. Rain totals are higher during this season due to occasional strong downpours. Visibility is best during this season, and encounters with a greater variety of sharks is common, along with huge schools of fish and rays.
All liveaboard trips visit the outer islands of Wolf and Darwin, which are both relatively small rocky pinnacles where almost anything can come in from the blue. There is also the chance for several land tours with local naturalists as guides during trips. These tours showcase the amazing variety of terrestrial animal species living and adapting to their local conditions. And as humans did not settle here until very recently, many species have no natural fear of us, so the wild animal encounters are very up close and personal.