Experience Diving with Kids In Santa Cruz Galapagos – New For 2024

Diving in the Galapagos Islands is one of the ultimate bucket list experiences; sharing it with your family will make it all the better! Just a few meters beneath the beautiful azure waves, this underwater world comes alive with an astonishing variety of marine life. From gliding sting rays and graceful sea turtles to vibrant schools of fish and roaming white-tip sharks, the diversity and beauty of the Galapagos marine animals are unmatched. Diving with kids In Santa Cruz Galapagos promises a spectacle of nature that will leave the whole family in awe.

A sea turtle swimming upwards from the rocks whilst diving with kids in Santa Cruz Galapagos
Get ready to see incredible wildlife!

If you or your children are not PADI qualified, do not worry. Several of the diving centres in Santa Cruz have beginner’s dives with qualified instructors to guide you, even if you have no prior experience.

A group of divers getting their final gear on, sitting on the edge of the boat at the back at North Seymour Island Galapagos.
The tour had a mix of experienced divers and first-timers.

Experiencing this magical underwater world with your children will make it even more special.  Regrettably, when we visited, our eager daughters were too young to partake in diving. Yet, for families with adventurous kids aged over 12, several agencies are happy to take them for an incredible diving experience. For Kirsty, diving here was too good an opportunity to miss, and she took a day away to experience all that the aqua-blue sea had to offer.

Kirsty scuba diving near the sea bed on the discovery experience diving with kids In Santa Cruz Galapagos.
Kirsty on her first ever dive.

Where to Book Diving with Kids In Santa Cruz, Galapagos

When you arrive in Santa Cruz, you won’t be able to move without seeing tour companies offering a range of excursions, including diving trips.

However, I found it best to go directly to the diving centres. The agents of the tour companies often don’t seem to have much diving experience and were unable to answer simple questions. By going direct, you can get a feel for the centre, and you will avoid paying the tour company’s markup.

A large school of yellowtail surgeon fish with some king angelfish mixed in at Seymour Island, Galapagos.
A school of yellow-tailed surgeon fish

There are a few dive centres in Puerto Ayora; all are pretty well-reviewed and offer a competitive rate for similar excursions.

After shopping around, I used Shark Bay Dive Centre on Charles Darwin Av, which was recommended to us by a fellow traveller, and they were great! As a first-time diver, I felt safe and relaxed all day and would not hesitate to bring my children on a diving experience with this company.

Speaking with the other passengers on our boat, most of whom were experienced divers, they all said it was a well-run centre, and the equipment was well-maintained.

Planning a family vacation to Santa Cruz, Galapagos? Don’t miss our complete guide to making the most of this extraordinary island. Whether it’s wildlife encounters, stunning beaches, or adventure activities you’re after, our guide has it all covered.

Discovering Santa Cruz Galapagos With Kids

Key Considerations When Booking a Diving Trip with Kids in Santa Cruz, Galapagos

I am a firm believer that time spent in reconnaissance is seldom wasted, and this is especially true when diving with kids In Santa Cruz Galapagos.

To protect this incredible place, the Galapagos National Park has restrictions on how many boats can go to the dive sites each week.  Because of this dive centres only offer certain dive sites on certain days.

Looking up at group of white tip reef sharks swimming around the rocks in North Seymour Island, Galapagos.
A shiver of white tipped sharks. Yes, we had to Google what a group of sharks is called!

This helps avoid overcrowding the areas while protecting the fragile ecosystem. Due to these restrictions, you will likely need to book a few days or more in advance, especially in peak season and if a few of you are going.  Single passengers may find odd slots or cancellations. When we booked, there was a four-day wait to go on any dive with Shark Bay Dive School.

Safety during your dive is of utmost importance.  Therefore, check Google reviews, insurance and certifications before you book to ensure there aren’t any red flags.

Also, speak to your accommodation or any other travellers you meet, as word-of-mouth recommendations can be invaluable.

If you are already in Santa Cruz, it is worth visiting the dive centres’ shop fronts, seeing how professionally they are set out, speaking with the staff, and ensuring that the equipment available is in good condition. 

A sting ray brushing over a rock with white tip reef sharks and other fish on the sea bed near Seymour Island, Galapagos.
An sting ray makes a quick escape from Kirsty!

Take your children along before you book and make sure they have suitable equipment for them.  Well-fitting gear is imperative for an enjoyable dive.

What to Expect When Diving With Kids in Santa Cruz, Galapagos

Most dive trips leave at 7 am; this is because most of the dive sites are a couple of hours away by boat, so they are usually full-day excursions.

Due to the early departure and the need to have all the equipment ready to go, you will be required to go in and be fitted up with your gear the day before. This is also a great opportunity to see close up the quality of equipment you will be using.

A close up of a moorish idol investigating a rock on the seabed at North Seymour Island, Galapagos.
A moorish idol.

You will also be asked to complete a short medical questionnaire to ensure you are fit and safe to dive.

Most companies operate with around 12 passengers. Depending on numbers, you will be split into smaller groups and designated an experienced dive master for the day.

I did the North Seymour Beginner’s Dive, and we drove from Puerto Ayora up to the Itabaca Channel, where we boarded our boat and travelled approximately 30 minutes to Seymour Island.  

Once onboard the boat, we were introduced to the crew for the day. This was followed by a safety briefing and a rundown of the day’s structure. On a full-day tour, you can expect water, snacks and a hot lunch on board. We had fresh tuna with rice, which was delicious!

After the general safety briefing, our dive master came and gave us ‘discovery divers’ a more in-depth talk on the equipment and how our dives would work.

Once we arrived at our first dive site, the two more experienced groups got their gear on and disappeared into the depths. At this point, Paulo, our dive instructor, carefully fitted us up with our equipment and talked us through the final steps, and then we were off!

Paulo from Shark Bay Dive Centre and his two 'Discovery Divers' looking happy after their first dive.
Kirsty and Paulo, her dive instructor.

An introductory dive can be around 12 metres deep, and you will be given a rope to help you down to the seabed.  With all your newfound skills and knowledge, you will be taken nice and slowly through your first moments as a diver.

The dive will last approximately 45 minutes, and your dive instructor will monitor your air and equipment continuously so you can relax and take in your new and incredible environment. Once your dive is nearing completion, your instructor will help you back to the surface, and the crew will aid you back into the boat.

Dive trips on Santa Cruz offer two dives during the day so you will be taken to your next dive site and offered a snack along the way.

The introduction to the diving trip was advertised as one dive and one scuba session, but once we were on board, we were offered the option to complete a second dive for an additional $50. Obviously, we jumped at the opportunity!

This time, the conditions were a bit rougher, and there was no rope to help us down. However, with Paulo’s guidance, we felt totally in control and were fortunate to see large numbers of blacktip reef sharks and even a couple of hammerheads. It was well worth the extra cost to get back down in the magical world.

Once we had all resurfaced and dried off, we made our way back towards Itabaca Chanel, where we received our delicious and much-needed lunch and refreshments.

A close up, side on view of an adult black tip reef shark swimming next to rocks with a chunk of fin missing.
Someone has taken a bit of this sharks fin!

Upon disembarking, you will be taken back to Puerto Ayora in a taxi and dropped at the dive centre.  While you are free to take your own videos and pictures during the dive, all the dive instructors take a GoPro, and where it is safe to do so, they will capture the moments for you. As a newbie, this was one less thing to think about! It is worth noting that, your safety comes first and for this reason, dive companies give no guarantee of producing the footage.

If you want to take your own GoPro, bring the protective housing, which lets you carry the camera past a depth of 10m without damaging it.

The wildlife you will see even close to the surface is incredible.

What’s Included When Diving With Kids in Santa Cruz, Galapagos

On the full-day dive trips, all the equipment you require is included. You are free to bring your own masks and flippers if you prefer. However, this is not necessary. You just need your swimwear; they even provide the towels.

All transport from the departure location is also provided, and as mentioned above, water, snacks and a hot lunch are also included.

Kirsty giving the 'OK' sign whilst scuba diving near North Seymour Island, Galapagos.
An incredible experience!

If you want the video footage from your drive, you are welcome to plug your phone, laptop or storage drive in, and the team will copy them over to your device. Due to the slow internet on the island they can’t send them via WhatsApp.

The only thing not included in the price is tips for the crew and dive team.

All in all it was a truly memorable day from start to finish. Being present in a totally unique world is an honour. Seeing the incredible wildlife in their own territory, totally unphased by our presence is something that we would highly recommend to anyone visiting the Galapagos Islands.

The Spencer Family

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About the authors

Our lives have been intertwined with a passion for exploration and a shared love for travel. Our adventures began long before we met, as we individually embarked on daring expeditions across the globe. Our paths finally converged, and we soon realized that our adventures were much more meaningful when shared!

After a brief hiatus to start a family, we eagerly embarked on a new chapter of our travel saga. Determined to instil in Georgia and Eva the values of discovery and open-mindedness, our goal is to embark on exciting escapades and explore breathtaking landscapes, bustling cities, and remote corners of the world. From hiking through mist-laden forests to snorkelling in turquoise seas, every adventure is an opportunity to create lasting memories as a family.

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