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Wolf and Darwin islands are the most remote in the Galapagos archipelago. They sit over 160 kilometres/100 miles from the main island of Isabella on the Darwin-Wolf volcanic ridge. Wolf Island is named after the famous geologist Theodor Wolfe and is the more southerly of the two. The waters around Wolf Island have been recognised as some of the best dive sites in the world for many years.
The shape of the ocean floor, means nutrient rich currents flow around the island bringing a huge array of sea life with it including of course the larger pelagics. This spectacular parade of wildlife includes shoals of thousands of hammerheads, Galapagos sharks, tiger sharks, dolphins and, in season, the magnificent whale sharks.
The island is closed to land visits and the surrounding waters are highly protected. Due to the threat of illegal fishing the Galapagos National Park service has a dedicated floating barge the 'Tiburon Martillo' close to the two islands. Along with a fleet of patrol boats and a surveillance aircraft, this barge helps to deter finning boats who are drawn here by the sheer numbers of sharks in this jewel of the Galapagos Marine Park.
Getting to Wolf Island
Wolf is usually the second stop for liveaboards after Punta Carrion and the sail is an evening and overnight sail. The waters can be a little wild in places but don't worry this is what Galapagos liveaboards are built for. When you arrive you will start to get a feeling of just how remote and special this place is. Sitting up on the deck for an early coffee you have the chance to see the pods of dolphins that surround the island, a host of sea birds and if you are lucky rays breaching.
Early mornings are a stable feature of any Galapagos liveaboard and once again you will be up before 6 am for a light breakfast and maybe a coffee. The dive briefing will be highly informative although it might be hard to concentrate when you start hearing things like 'shoals of hammerheads', 'tiger sharks', 'loggerhead turtles', 'dolphin pods' and 'the occasional orca'. Do try and keep up though, the conditions in Wolf and Darwin can be some of the roughest and the currents very strong so you will want to know what is going on. If you haven't already your BCD will be fitted with a GPS location device just in case.
You will be dropped at the first dive site by panga tender. Which sites you visit are very weather and current dependant. If conditions are good the first up is usually El Derrumbe, The Landslide. Here is a huge rock reef where you can look out into the blue and see the iconic hammerhead shoals passing by, hundreds strong. The dive will normally be around 50-60 minutes and you still won't want to come up. Don't worry, after a proper breakfast and surface interval you will be dropped back at The Landslide for dive two and more amazing diving.
If the first half of the day was spent at the Landslide, after lunch you will move on to The Cave or Shark Bay. The choice of sites will of course be at the mercy of the conditions but either way you are in for two amazing dives whichever you visit. The pangas will drop you off and pick you up from the main boat for both dives.
During the warm season the fourth dive can be scheduled as a night dive instead of afternoon. For the rest of the year, the liveaboard will either anchor up for the night or if conditions permit start sailing to Darwin Island. Either way, stay on the deck as much as possible there is always so much to see. Dolphin pods are often still around and huge red kites often come and hitch a ride on the handrails of the boat.
Wolf Island Underwater
Hammerheads, Galapagos sharks, tiger sharks, mantas, tuna, dolphins the list goes on. Wolf has everything divers visit Galapagos for, it is truly breath-taking diving. The landslide is a boulder strewn reef which, you guessed it, resembles a landslide. This reef falls into the blue and you can sit on the edge here, hold on and witness one of the most amazing aquatic shows on earth. You will be surrounded by more sharks, turtles and shoals of rays than you ever imagined. The landslide is also a great place to get very close to the hammerheads. If you wait on the reef they often swim up so close you could almost touch them.
The Cave is a stunning cavern and a series of swim-throughs with beautiful soft white corals. This is a great place to see hammerheads and the shy Galapagos sharks. The current here is strong making the outside of the caves the ideal hunting ground for tuna and almaco jacks.
Shark Bay is again home to hammerhead sharks, tiger sharks and legions of turtles. The bay starts around 10 meters / 33 ft. shallower than some of the other dives so divers can play with friendly sea lions. Further along around 20 meters / 65 ft. you can see hammerheads and shoals of rays. The current here is high and the swell quite strong especially close to the shore which can often lead to an unexpected drift dive.
Top Tips for Wolf Island
Current is strong and the reefs covered in barnacles so wear gloves for protection. Also watch out for hogfish who are always biting at lose barnacles even if your hand is in the way.
When hammerheads are on the reef stay low and as still as possible and you will get some real close-ups.
The conditions can be rough on the surface at Wolf and pulling yourself back on the panga is a challenge. Stick to the back of the boat where the inflatable is lower.
If the current eases, slip out into the blue for your safety stop, chances are you will run into shoals of sharks and sometimes dolphins.
Wolf Island Diving Reviews
ExcellentDiving Wolf Island in September on the Humboldt Explorer
at shark bay we saw lots of hammerhead sharks. land slide was great dive point too but someone said it's menslide because the current was so strong.Diving Wolf Island in September on the Humboldt Explorer
AMAZING. Big current, but the first spot we started to see the big fish...Diving Wolf Island in August on the Galapagos Sky
Hammerheads Hammerheads Hammerheads... awesomeDiving Wolf Island in August on the Galapagos Sky
FantasticDiving Wolf Island in June on the Galapagos Aggressor III
Fantastic diving, good water temp and above all, great schools of sharks!Diving Wolf Island in August on the Humbolt Explorer
ExcelentDiving Wolf Island in August on the Humboldt Explorer
Challenging but rewarding (cold water and very stong current). We saw big schools of hammerheads.Diving Wolf Island in July on the Astrea Liveaboard
outstandingDiving Wolf Island in July on the Galapagos Master
FantasticDiving Wolf Island in June on the Galapagos Sky