Diving in the Galapagos

Galapagos Spotlight: Diving at Academy Bay

This week we put our Galapagos Spotlight on diving at Academy Bay. The bay’s convenient location on the island of Santa Cruz and its four sites of varying levels of difficulty make it a popular diving spot for beginner, intermediate and experienced divers alike.

Academy Bay is located close to the town of Puerto Ayora. It’s easily accessible and is one of the few dive sites that can be visited in half a day. The whole trip generally lasts around five hours.

There are four sites, two of which have calm currents and are ideal for non-experienced divers. The other two sites are more suited to intermediate or advanced divers as the current is stronger.

You will see a variety of marine life at Academy Bay, including reef fish, sea lions, sting rays, golden rays, eagle rays, invertebrates, morays, garden eels, turtles, marine iguanas and white-tipped reef sharks.

There are several agencies in Puerto Ayora offering trips to Academy Bay, either as a single trip or in combination with a visit to another dive site.

Academy Bay’s four sites are:

  • Punta Estrada: this site is located in one of the calmer areas and is therefore ideal for those who haven’t dived before. The site has an abundance of golden rays and white-tipped reef sharks, and, as this is also a sea turtle canyon, you’ll have the opportunity to dive with green sea turtles.
  • Caamaño Islet: this is the second of the sites offering calmer currents and is also suitable for beginners. You’ll spot a variety of tropical fish, marine iguanas and playful sea lions.
  • Punta Nuñez Cliffs: here you’ll find lava rock cliffs with underwater lava tunnels which form wonderful caves – great for exploring. You’ll see sea turtles, stingrays, tropical fish, white-tipped reef sharks and sometimes manta rays. This site is suitable for intermediate divers.
  • El Bajo: the ocean currents are usually calm but stronger than the other sites. This is a submarine platform that has mini-walls and a great quantity of marine life such as large schools of reef fish, rays, white-tipped reef sharks and sea turtles. Intermediate and experienced divers will love this site.

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Photo credit: Flickr/Anthony Patterson

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