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Best Diving Destinations in Ecuador

About scuba diving in Ecuador

Ecuador is a country located in the Andes in South America. The country includes the Galápagos Islands, which are located about 600mi/965km west of the coast of Ecuador. The international airports are situated in Quito and Guayaquil. Have a passion for scuba diving and want to dive in Ecuador? We have detailed information about diving in Ecuador. Ecuador is an ocean lover’s paradise, with two areas for diving: around the Galápagos Islands and in the waters of Machalilla National Park (the main attractions are white-sand beaches and archeological sites, such as Agua Blanca). The seas here are richly nourished by the Humboldt Current, whose upwelling pulls nutrients off the ocean bottom, producing dense plankton blooms that attract some the ocean’s top predators, including manta rays, whales, sharks, tuna, and sea turtles. The Galápagos Islands are one of a handful of places left on Earth where the birds and animals have no fear of humans, allowing for nature photography. The ocean that surrounds the Galápagos Islands is home to green sea turtles, sea lions, sharks (from June to November humpback whales, whale sharks pass by), and nearly 500 species of fish (nearly 25% of marine life is endemic to the Galápagos), such as seahorses, morays, surgeonfish, soldierfish, angelfish, and grouper. The most popular dive destinations here are the northern islands Wolf and Darwin (with the most challenging dive spots, Shark Bay and Darwin’s Arch), Isabela Island, San Cristóbal, Santa Cruz, and Floreana and its surrounding areas. There are dozens of excellent dive spots: Gordon Rocks, North Seymour near Santa Cruz, Kicker Rock, Whale Rock, Tijeretas Hill, Pitt Point near San Cristóbal, Cabo Marshall, Roca Redonda, Tortuga island off Isabela Island, Devil’s Crown off Floreana Island, and others. Diving conditions in the Galápagos generally aren’t suitable for beginners because of strong currents, but conditions in the south are less demanding, and local dive schools offer dives for novices. There are also several areas along the coast in Machalilla National Park that offer excellent scuba diving where visitors are treated to hundreds of fish species--snappers, triggerfish, barnacles, flounder, scorpionfish, pufferfish, balloonfish, soapfish, rays, morays, reef sharks, etc. Some must-see dive sites are Salinas, La Plata Island, and Isla Salango. La Plata Island is a perfect location for snorkeling and scuba diving for all levels with a variety of sites. It is surrounded by coral reefs, and the main features are rich marine life, rocky cliffs, bays, and rocks. Salinas is recommended for scuba diving due to coral reefs, wreck diving and exotic sea life.

When to go to Ecuador

The Pacific coastal area has a tropical climate with a severe rainy season. It is possible to dive all year round. The best months for diving are December through April, when seas are calmer and the water is less cold. However, even then, many sites have strong currents and surges of cold water that can get as cold as 10C/50F. The visibility can get as low as 3m/10ft, though it averages 5-25m/16-82ft. During the hot season (December through April), the sea surface temperature ranges from 22-26C/71-78F. In the dry season (May through November), it ranges from 18-22C/64-71F.

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