- Discover a catalogue of endemic species, including the incredible marine iguana
- Scuba dive with huge schools of hammerhead sharks, sometimes more than a hundred strong
- Visit the Charles Darwin Research Station and learn about the island’s unique natural history
- Hike high in the Andes, trek through the Amazon, or take the plunge in the Pacific Ocean
Divided north to south by the dramatic Andes mountain range, Ecuador might be dwarfed by many of its sprawling South American neighbours, but it still has plenty to offer. The country’s rich culture ranges from imposing colonial cities to breath-taking hillside villages and remote indigenous enclaves. And, despite its small size, Ecuador boasts some of the most biodiverse regions on the planet, from the bustling Amazon rainforest in the east, to the pelagic-packed pacific ocean in the west.
With multiple oceanic currents meeting around Ecuador’s western coast, divers can find a rich and diverse variety of experiences on offer - with both warm and cool water species, and a range of underwater environments. Ecuador’s marquee dive destination, the Galapagos Islands, lie around 1,000 kilometres off the country’s western coast. Despite their isolated nature, the Galapagos Islands are known the worldover as a benchmark of biodiversity. Around 97% of the archipelago falls within a national park, reserving just 3% for human habitation, and the marine protected area is the second largest in the world.
Top Ecuador experiences
Dive with hammerhead sharks at Darwin Island, Galapagos
The furthest point in the Galapagos Archipelago, this far flung island may take a while to get to, but year-round hammerhead sightings are the reward. And, for maximum adrenaline, visit during the wet season, when these sharks can be seen schooling by the hundreds.
Coastal diving at Isla de la Plata, Puerto Lopez
Located within the Machalilla National Park, Manabi’s star attraction, Isla de la Plata, is a hotspot for diving with giant oceanic manta rays. The manta gather here between July and October, along with humpback whales and whale sharks.
Search for endemic wildlife at Punta Espinosa, Fernandina Island
For wildlife-lovers, Punta Espinosa is one of the best tourist attractions in the Galapagos. This northerly point of Fernandina Island plays host to marine iguanas, lava lizards, flightless cormorants, Galapagos penguins, sea lions, and more.
Climb an active volcano in the Andes
Located in the Andes, and set within more than 30,000 hectares of national park, Cotopaxi is one of South America’s more active volcanoes, and also easily one of the most picturesque. The climb may be tough but the scenery is spectacular, and the wild horses, llamas, foxes, and condors are the cherry on the cake.
Seasons and weather in Galapagos and Ecuador
The wet season in the Galapagos runs from December to May and is both the wettest and warmest time of year, with air temperatures fluctuating within the high 20s and rains drawing in during the afternoons. Sea temperatures tend to fluctuate between 20-25°C but can reach 28-30°C in some places, with inevitable thermoclines at depth. In the dry seasons, from June to November, you can expect air temperatures within the low 20s, and water temperatures as low as 19°C, although the climate during both seasons can vary dramatically based on altitude and proximity to the equator. For divers, large schools of hammerhead sharks and manta rays are more common in the wet season, while whales, whale sharks and tiger sharks appear during the dry season.
Hammerhead sharks, marine iguanas and tortoises