Can You Swim With Whale Sharks In The Galapagos Islands?

Can You Swim With Whale Sharks In The Galapagos - Galapagos whale shark

The Galapagos whale shark is on many scuba diver’s bucket list. But as with many places where you can swim with whale sharks, there are better times to go. Which is why it’s important to know whether you can swim with whale sharks in the Galapagos Islands, and when is best to see them?

You can swim with whale sharks in the Galapagos Islands and the best time to go is from July to November. The best way to see whale sharks is from on a Galapagos scuba diving liveaboard on a trip to Wolf and Darwin Islands. Most Galapagos whale sharks are huge and some measuring up to 12 metres.

Please keep reading for more about the Galapagos whale shark together with some interesting whale shark facts.

Where can you see whale sharks in Galapagos?

Your best chance to see Galapagos Whale Sharks is in the waters around Wolf and Darwin Islands in the north. Your only way to do this is to book at Galapagos scuba diving liveaboard trip. The distance from Santa Cruz or Baltra Island to Wolf Island is about 270 kilometres (169 miles). Darwin Island is a further 45 kilometres (28 miles).

This makes the distance to Darwin Island from Santa Cruz about 315 kilometres (197 miles). This distance is too far for day boats.

Handy Galapagos liveaboard comparison chart - Table of Galapagos scuba diving liveaboards (Scroll table right for more info.)

Galapagos Scuba Diving
Liveaboard
Review Rating
Out of 10
Cost Per Day
(From price)
EnquireNitroxFlexible BookingDietary RequirementsLogged Dives/Min Dive CertificationDarwin & Wolf IslandsLand
Excursions
Internet
Cost
Available for CharterSidemount/Rebreather
Diving support
LengthMax Guests/
Cabins/Bathrooms
Family Friendly
Galapagos Aggressor III Liveaboard9.1£447/$608/€501EnquirePaidNoSpecific dietary requirements catered for.000 - OW*YesYesPaidYesNo31/100f16/8/11No
Galapagos Aqua Liveaboard9.0£161/$219/€180EnquirePaidYesVegetarian.
Specific dietary requirements catered for.
050 - AOWYesYesNoNoSidemount26m/8516/9/9No
Galapagos Astrea Liveaboard8.2EnquireEnquirePaidNoVegetarian.
Vegan.
Specific dietary requirements catered for.
EnquireYesEnquireNoNoTech diving support27m/89f16/8/8No
Galapagos Blue Spirit Liveaboard0.0£524/$713/€587EnquireNoYesEnquire050 - OWYesYesNoYesNo32/104f16/10/12Yes
Galapagos Calipso Liveaboard9.3£243/$331/€273EnquirePaidYesVegetarian.
Vegan.
Specific dietary requirements catered for.
100 - OWYesYesFreeYesSidemount35m/11516/8/9No
Galapagos Humboldt Explorer Liveaboard8.8£343/$467/€384EnquirePaidYesSpecific dietary requirements catered for.100- AOWYesYesNoYesNo34m/112f16/8/8No
Galapagos Master Liveaboard9.0£308/$419/€345EnquirePaidYesVegetarian.
Specific dietary requirements catered for.
050 - AOWYesYesNoYesNo32m/105f16/9/10No
Galapagos Nortada Liveaboard8.3£415/$565/€465EnquirePaidNoVegetarian.
Specific dietary requirements catered for.
EnquireYesEnquireNoYesTech diving support.
Rebreather.
26m/85f10/5/5No
Galapagos Sky Liveaboard9.5£536/$729/€601EnquireFreeNoVegetarian.
Vegan.
Specific dietary requirements catered for.
060 - AOWYesYesNoYesNo31/100f16/8/8Yes (Per customer review)
Galapagos Tiburon Explorer Liveaboard0.0£406/$552/€455EnquirePaidYesVegetarian.
Vegan.
Specific dietary requirements catered for.
100 - AOWYesYesPaidYesSidemount38/125f16/9/9No
Galapagos liveaboard comparison chart notes:
1. The exchange rate used for GBP to USD 1.36 and GBP to Euro 1.12.
2. If you love one of these Galapagos scuba diving liveaboards, but the price is above your budget, please always check the most up to date cost of the trip by clicking on the "Enquire" link, as there may be special offers or a significant price change for a specific Galapagos liveaboard not yet reflected in the above table of Galapagos liveaboards.
3. The 'Cost per day' column will make it easy to sort these Galapagos liveaboards by cost, but these prices may vary when you visit to book. The prices listed are a cost guide and were correct at the time of compiling this table.
4. Under review rating '0.0' means no rating received at the time of compiling the table.
5. To scroll on desktop select table and use arrow keys. On touch screen including mobile devices scroll the table using the screen.
6. Min dive certification: OW = Open Water Diver. AOW = Advanced Open Water Diver.
* Please note the Galapagos Aggressor III minimum logged dive requirement is no dives. However, your diving will be restricted to the beginner dives. You won't be permitted to dive in strong currents experienced at Wolf and Darwin Islands.
Galapagos whale shark facts

Galapagos whale shark facts

A few Galapagos whale shark interesting facts include:

  • The Galapagos Islands is one of the most reliable places in the world to see whale sharks on their migratory journey, during the Galapagos whale shark season.
  • The Galapagos whale shark season is best between July and November every year. Some consider June as the starting month of the Galapagos whale shark season, but you are more likely to see more whale sharks from July onwards.
  • The peak Galapagos whale shark season is August to September, which is when the waters around the Galapagos Islands are at their coolest (see table below).
  • Galapagos whale sharks congregate in open water around Darwin and Wolf Islands.
  • The reason why whale sharks congregate near Darwin and Wolf Islands is due to the many upwelling currents that create the perfect place for whale shark food.
  • The main current to bring nutrient rich water to the Galapagos Islands is the Humboldt Current. It is this current that is responsible for cooling the waters around the Galapagos Islands.
  • Whale sharks are the largest fish on the planet measuring over 12 metres (39 feet) in length. The record whale shark is said to be 18 metres (59 feet).
  • Whale sharks are easy to recognise, as they have white spots on their skin. They also have very wide mouths (up to 1.5 metres wide) with small eyes on either side of the mouth.
  • The Galapagos whale sharks tend to be large pregnant females.

For more interesting facts about whale sharks, please take a read this article about whether a whale shark is a mammal or a fish with a few fun facts.

The Best Time To Dive The Galapagos Islands chart (Scroll table right for more info.)

MonthWeatherAverage daily max temperature/
sunshine
Average Sea Water
Temperature
Average
rainfall
mm/In
Best chance to see
Hammerheads, Galapagos sharks
Best chance to see
Whale Sharks
Best chance to see giant manta raysComments
01. Scuba diving Galapagos in JanuaryWet season.
Daily rain likely. Cloudier skies.
27°C (81°F) - 4hrs25°C (77°F)90 (3.54)Best timeNoBest timeBest time to see mantas.
Hammerhead schools generally larger.
02. Scuba diving Galapagos in FebruaryWet season.
Daily rain likely. Cloudier skies.
27°C (81°F) - 5hrs26°C (79°F)114 (4.5)Best timeNoBest time Best time to see mantas.
Hammerhead schools generally larger.
03. Scuba diving Galapagos in MarchWet season.
Daily rain likely. Cloudier skies.
27°C (81°F) - 6hrs26°C (79°F)107 (4.21)Best timeNoBest timeBest time to see mantas.
Hammerhead schools generally larger.
04. Scuba diving Galapagos in AprilWet season.
Daily rain likely. Cloudier skies.
27°C (81°F) - 6hrs25°C (77°F)60 (2.36)Best timeNoBest timeBest time to see mantas.
Hammerhead schools generally larger.
05. Scuba diving Galapagos in MayWet season.
Daily rain likely. Cloudier skies.
27°C (81°F) - 7hrs25°C (77°F)26 (1.02)Good timeLess chanceBest timeBest time to see mantas.
Hammerhead schools generally larger.
06. Scuba diving Galapagos in JuneDry season.
Blue skies.
Mid-day showers.
25°C (77°F) - 6hrs24°C (75°F)21 (0.83)YesBest timeLess chanceBest time to see whale sharks.
Rougher seas at times.
07. Scuba diving Galapagos in JulyDry season.
Blue skies.
Mid-day showers.
23°C (73°F) - 6hrs23°C (73°F)10 (0.4)YesBest timeLess chanceBest time to see whales and dolphins.
Best time to see whale sharks.
Rougher seas at times.
08. Scuba diving Galapagos in AugustDry season.
Blue skies.
Mid-day showers.
23°C (73°F) - 6hrs23°C (73°F)12 (0.47)YesBest timeLess chanceBest time to see whales and dolphins.
Best time to see whale sharks.
Rougher seas at times.
09. Scuba diving Galapagos in SeptemberDry season.
Blue skies.
Mid-day showers.
24°C (75°F) - 6hrs22°C (72°F)88 (3.46)YesBest timeLess chanceBest time to see whales and dolphins.
Best time to see whale sharks.
Rougher seas at times.
10. Scuba diving Galapagos in OctoberDry season.
Blue skies.
Mid-day showers.
24°C (75°F) - 6hrs23°C (73°F)85 (3.35)YesBest timeLess chanceBest time to see whales and dolphins.
Best time to see whale sharks.
Rougher seas at times.
11. Scuba diving Galapagos in NovemberDry season.
Blue skies.
Mid-day showers.
26°C (79°F) - 6hrs23°C (73°F)74 (2.71)YesBest timeLess chanceBest time to see whales and dolphins.
Best time to see whale sharks.
Rougher seas at times.
12. Scuba diving Galapagos in DecemberDry season.
Blue skies.
Mid-day showers.
26°C (79°F) - 5hrs24°C (75°F)16 (0.63)Good timeNoBest timeBest time to see mantas.
Hammerhead schools generally larger.
The best time to dive the Galapagos Islands chart notes:
1. Average daily max temperature, daily sunshine and sea water temperature are courtesy of https://www.holiday-weather.com/galapagos_islands/averages.
2. To scroll on desktop select table and use arrow keys. On touch screen including mobile devices scroll the table using the screen.
Galapagos whale shark

Galapagos whale shark

The Galapagos whale shark is not really any different to any other whale shark. But the benefit of swimming with whale sharks in the Galapagos Islands is you can also enjoy hundreds of schooling scalloped hammerheads at the same time. These schooling hammerheads are found around the waters of Darwin and Wolf Island as well. In fact it is the hammerhead sharks that bring most scuba divers to the Galapagos Islands, with the Galapagos whale sharks being the icing on the cake.

That’s not to mention the land excursions to see the giant tortoises, the opportunity to dive with Galapagos sea lions, penguins and marine iguanas too.

Is it safe to swim with whale sharks?

A Galapagos Whale Shark may sound like it might be dangerous, as it’s a shark after all. But Galapagos whale sharks are gentle giants that mostly feed on eat krill, plankton and other small fish. So it’s safe to say it’s not dangerous to swim with whale sharks, but see below about why you should not touch any whale shark.

The best Galapagos scuba diving liveaboards to swim with Galapagos whale sharks include the Aqua, Galapagos Master, Galapagos Aggressor III, Calipso, Humboldt Explorer, Galapagos Sky and Tiburon. For the best features on each of these liveaboards take a look at the above Galapagos liveaboard comparison chart.

Why should you not touch a whale shark?

There are two reasons why you should not touch whale sharks, firstly it is illegal to touch them as they are a protected species. But secondly, and even though they are gentle giants, you don’t want to get too close not upset one as they have large powerful tails. So when you swim with the whale sharks in the Galapagos Islands, watch and enjoy from a safe distance and let them slowly swim past.

I hope you enjoyed this page about can you swim with whale sharks in the Galapagos

If you have more questions either about snorkelling or scuba diving (or specifically about can you swim with whale sharks in the Galapagos), please comment below with your questions.

Please share your experiences, plus dive sites, resorts and liveaboards you recommend. Share the time of year of your trip together with what you saw, the visibility, currents and dive operator, as this will help others who read this page.

There will also be many more pages and articles about scuba and scuba diving safety tips (and on snorkelling too) for you to read and learn about this fabulous sport.

Have fun and be safe!

Can You Swim With Whale Sharks In The Galapagos Islands?

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