Steeped in unique natural history, the Galapagos Islands represent one of the most spectacular and highly sought-after diving destinations on the planet. As with many archipelagos, liveaboards are one of the most efficient ways to explore this incredible island chain. In fact, it can take up to 14-hours by boat to reach the far-flung Darwin and Wolf islands and their iconic schooling hammerheads, meaning a liveaboard isn’t just recommended, it’s essential. What’s more, the strict conservation rules travellers must abide by when transferring between islands can feel overwhelming at times and are often made easier with the help of an experienced liveaboard operator.
Generally speaking, liveaboard itineraries in the Galapagos Islands are divided into two groups; land-focussed naturalist cruises and ocean-bound dive cruises. But, almost all dive cruises include a land excursion or two for guests to marvel at the islands’ unique flora and fauna. And, if you feel like you need a little more time to take it all in, most vessels alternate their itineraries each week, making it easy to combine a dive safari and a naturalist cruise into one incredible trip.
In this article, we’ve done the hard work for you and selected seven of the best liveaboards in the Galapagos. So keep reading to find your perfect fit.
Renovated as recently as 2019, Aqua is an up-to-date motor yacht delivering exceptional value-for-money. The vessel’s simple summer-house style wooden aesthetic keeps it looking clean and clutter-free while cosy social spaces offer a calming contrast to the sometimes stark and isolated nature of the Galapagos Islands. Aqua can accommodate up to 16 guests with a variety of cabin configurations, providing plenty of flexibility for families with children and allowing easy room sharing between solo travellers.
Itineraries on offer include an eight-day scuba diving adventure and a variety of multi-day naturalist tours, allowing guests to combine land and ocean exploration into the trip of a lifetime. Divers who choose this affordable vessel won’t miss out on facilities, either, thanks to top of the line rental gear, optional nitrox upgrades, and complimentary GPS locators. From $556 per day.
Tiburon Explorer is one of the newest vessels to join the world’s first Green Fins approved liveaboard fleet, Explorer Ventures. Packing all the attributes of this fleet’s original Galapagos liveaboard, Humboldt Explorer, this new vessel delivers an extra dose of modern luxury on top. Interior spaces are finished with elegant materials such as marble and wood with palatial cream furnishings and gold accents. Tiburon Explorer also comes with an open-air Jacuzzi and serves complimentary tea, coffee, and local alcohol.
Built by divers, for divers, Tiburon Explorer’s efficiently-designed dive deck guarantees stress-free diving and comes equipped with everything needed for a truly memorable underwater experience – including the photography facilities to capture every moment. From $862 per day.
Galapagos Aggressor III
The Aggressor Fleet has been operating in the Galapagos Islands since 1993, meaning the Galapagos Aggressor III draws from a wealth of expertise in the region. As with the entire Aggressor Fleet, this vessel has the air of a small boutique hotel rather than a boat, ensuring plenty of elegance during voyages in this remote archipelago. And the sophistication doesn’t end there, thanks to little perks such as warm drinks after diving, complimentary beer and wine, and an open-air hot tub on the upper deck.
The Aggressor Fleet is a favourite among dedicated divers throughout the world, renowned for its efficiency and facilities. Thankfully, the Galapagos Aggressor III upholds this reputation, delivering action-packed week-long itineraries that offer up to four dives every day. Serious divers will also appreciate this vessel’s superb multi-tier camera table and blow-dry station. From $874 per day.
Master Fleet is another well-respected name in diving circles, appreciated for its superior service and personalised approach. Galapagos Master is a stylish modern motor yacht that executes classic itineraries with skill and precision, providing outstanding service and facilities to top off the experience. Accommodating up to 19 passengers, this vessel still manages to find plenty of extra room, allowing for generous cabins and spacious social areas.
The Galapagos Master features a choice of itineraries lasting between eight to 10 days, and diving is made easy thanks to a massive shaded dive deck and two tenders for transporting guests to and from the action. And you’re sure to see plenty of action with this vessel’s longest voyages offering four full days of diving amongst the schooling hammerheads at Darwin and Wolf islands! From $770 per day.
Galaxy Diver is a contemporary liveaboard designed and built to carbon footprint and contribute to the conservation of the Galapagos without compromising on guests’ experience. Renovated in 2022, this vessel comes complete with a cutting-edge aesthetic and large feature artworks that set the scene for each exciting expedition. Guests will find Galaxy Diver’s cosy ambience and exceptional standards of service provide the perfect environment to recuperate after an action-packed day while the gourmet cuisine keeps you well-fuelled for adventure.
With just 14 guests onboard, Galaxy Diver’s impressive dive platform handles the pre-dive excitement and post-dive elation with ease. Certified divers can also enjoy complimentary nitrox fills throughout their trip, while non-certified divers can opt to take the course on board. From $475 per day.
Galapagos Sky boasts decades of experience in the Galapagos and operates in partnership with Ecoventura and DivEncounters to deliver some of the archipelago’s very best liveaboard experiences. The vessel’s stylish yet functional design invites relaxation while facilitating adventure and an array of extra indulgences help to heighten the luxury. The long list of premium perks on offer on board Galapagos Sky are sure to satisfy even the most discerning of guests and include fine dining and imported alcohol, complimentary wine during dinner, and warm towels after every tank.
Of course, beneath all the luxurious details, Galapagos Sky is well-equipped to take on adventurous dive expeditions in the Galapagos, featuring a highly-experienced team, two custom tenders, and optional nitrox upgrades, among other diver-friendly facilities. From $912 per day.
For luxury-loving adventurers, the 50-metre Aqua Mare surpasses all other liveaboards in the Galapagos. Fully renovated in 2021, this superyacht is the first of its kind in the region and delivers some of the most exclusive facilities imaginable. Extravagant entertainment spaces on board include an outdoor six-person Jacuzzi and a water-level lounge complete with a swimming platform and flat screen TV. And, when it comes to meal times, Aqua Mare’s masterfully-crafted cuisine and carefully-curated wine list will not disappoint.
To help guests maximise their time in the Galapagos, Aqua Mare comes stocked with a suite of non-motorised watersports facilities such as kayaks and paddleboards. And, while this vessel is not a dedicated dive liveaboard, rendezvous diving can be easily organised on selected itineraries – allowing local operators to collect guests and whisk them away for a day of underwater exploration. From $1,181 per day.