Diving in Colombia with Malpelo Tours

01.10.2019 by Editor Team

(This article contains sponsored content)

Reading Time: 10min. / Max. Diving Depth: 40m 😉

You would like to go diving at Malpelo Island? A name pronounced in the same breath as Galapagos and Cocos. And whose dive sites are among the best shark and big fish areas on the planet. Malpelo is an attraction for an enormous number of sea dwellers. Above all the bowhead hammerhead sharks, which appear all year round in large schools with several hundred animals.

The Liveaboard Operator Malpelo Tours offers you amazing tours to the Island suitable for all budgets. Read in our article everything about the company and dive region. Let’s dive in! 🙂

About Malpelo Tours

Malpelo Tours is a Liveaboard Operator located in Cali, Colombia. They are a group of experts that is specialized in diving at the best dive sites in Colombia. As the name already indicates, that is the famous Malpelo Island and its friend: Gorgona Island. 🙂 There extensive experience in that area assures the best possible trip with excellent service and a dive trip you’ve always dreamed of. Your safety and happiness are their commitment!

Malpelo Tours offers scuba diving with large mammals and big fish. Such as Humpback Whales, Dolphins, whale sharks, a variety of sharks and Manta Rays. Most importantly they don’t support shark feeding because fortunately unlike many others they do not want under any circumstances to alter the food chain. Malpelo Tours rejects illegal fishing. The fish provided aboard are from sustainable species and are supplied by the community of local fishermen.

Especially nowadays we are very happy about that environmental awareness and can only recommend the experts of Malpelo Tours for your tour and diving at the famous Malpelo Island! 🙂

Diving at Malpelo Island on the Comfort Liveaboard

Malpelo Tours operates their expeditions with the comfort Liveaboard “Seawolf”. The Tour Duration is 8-9 Days, including a Hotel in Cali, all transports and meals and of course 5-6 days of diving at Malpelo Island. Starting from only 2.900 USD!

The Seawolf Liveaboard was renovated in 2019. It has 8 air-conditioned rooms that can accommodate 16 Divers. Together with the crew there will not be more than 26 People on board. The boat is 34 meters long and 6 meters high. A beautiful dining and sun bathing area hold enough space for everybody. 🙂 Of course you can rent your dive equipment as well.

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Diving in Hammerhead-Mekka

The island of Malpelo belongs to Colombia. It is nothing more than a barren rocky island. 500km away from the mainland and facing the rough sea. The barren rocks are overgrown with grass and ferns only in a few places. Malpelo is 1.643 m long and 727 m wide. The highest peak is about 300 m high. Around the main island there are numerous isolated rocks that emerge from the depths of the Pacific.

Malpelo has the status of a Unesco World Natural Heritage Site and is strictly protected by the Colombian National Park authorities. The number of attacks by illegal fishermen in the marine national parks is rising steadily worldwide and high seas areas such as Malpelo are not easy to control. Above all, constant control is extremely costly. At regular intervals, a Navy boat patrols the waters around Malpelo. Illegal fishing boats are escorted by the Navy to the port. However, complete protection can only be achieved with the presence of submersibles. In any case, Malpelo has fortunately managed to maintain an enormous fish abundance and stock of sharks until today. That is why Malpelo Tours has an agreement with the Fundacion Malpelo and gives a donation to them for every diver who visits the Island on their Comfort boat.

Malpelos Residents

If you think such a rugged rock is uninhabited you are greatly mistaken. The Colombian military maintains a small station on the island. The mostly young soldiers of the Navy remain up to 3 months on the island, before they are replaced by their colleagues. Their task is to control the sea area with radar devices, to maintain the lighthouse on Malpelo and to support the park rangers in their work.

When you get closer to the island you can see thousands of seabirds, such as boobies, frigate birds and terns. Not to forget numerous crab species, some lizards and smaller monitor lizards, which reproduce the eggs of seabirds.

You should be careful if you want to climb the island. Malpelo Island is steep and rugged and the only way to get to the island is with the help of a rope ladder. Once you have overcome this hurdle, you climb up in alpine mountaineering mode towards the Military Station.

Diving at Malpelo Island

As already mentioned Malpelo belongs to the top large fish areas. Numerous currents, such as the Humboldt Current, the Panama Contra Current and the Colombian Current meet here. A total of eight currents are supposed to wash around the island depending on the season and thus bring numerous nutrients to the island. Creating the perfect environmental conditions for the underwater fauna. These currents also influence the diving conditions around the island in terms of temperature and visibility. An absolutely reliable statement is unfortunately not possible, because the currents can change unannounced at any time of the year and thus abruptly change the conditions for your dive.

The underwater world of Malpelo Island contains mostly rock formations populated by shells. In recent years, you can find more and more small fan corals on the rocks. Indicating an increase in nutrients and temperature in the water. It becomes more tropical around Malpelo. At some dive sites, like the Altair de Virginia, even a sparsely overgrown small coral reef has maintained itself. At La Nevera you can find a smaller gorgonian field. Despite still sparse coral growth, the rocks offer numerous tropical fish a place of refuge. You are also able to see various kinds of nudibranchs.

An absolute phenomenon are the many free-swimming morays which live in the barren rocks. They are ubiquitous and sometimes they are connected in large groups. At Ferreteria, up to 10 moray eel heads look out from one and the same reef headland. An ideal photo motive. Lobsters and sea urchins are the second most frequent inhabitants of the rocks. You should beware of the dragonheads and watch out for Frog Fish.

What you can see while diving at Malpelo Island

Malpelo is an attraction for an enormous number of sea dwellers. Above all the bowhead hammerhead sharks, which appear all year round in large schools with several hundred animals. There is hardly a dive where these elegant predators are not spotted. At cleaning stations, as at the Altair de Virginia, mostly smaller groups with up to 40 animals visit the shallow waters of the Altair.

Diving with Sharks at Malpelo Island

Silk sharks are another attraction. With almost every appearance it usually takes only a few minutes and the first animals come to the surface to admire you curiously. Before they disappear again into greater depths. In La Gringa, La Nevera and Ferreteria there are often accumulations of up to 200 animals. If you want to experience this, your chances at Malpelo are best here.

Galapagos sharks are the third predominant shark species that you can find on almost all reefs and rocks off Malpelo. The up to 3 meters long animals are impressive predators and have a correspondingly self-confident appearance. At a dive site between La Gringa and David we could already count up to 20 animals at a deep-lying reef. An unforgettable experience if you sit down there. Watch the Galapagos sharks and just a hundred hammerhead sharks buzz over your head.

Diving with Mantas and Whale Sharks at Malpelo Island

Swarms of fish are another reason for you to dive at Malpelo Island. At dive sites like Los Tres Mosqueteros there are regularly schools of mackerel with thousands of animals. Often you can also see countless red snappers. Forming a huge cloud that turns the day into a dark night when you dive into the group. Again and again the fish mass opens and makes room for single hammerhead or Galapagos sharks. Almost all of the fish species occurring here occur in “masses”. Eagle rays are on the agenda from small to large, from loners to smaller schools.

Mantas and whale sharks are also regular visitors in these waters. The whale sharks are mostly adult animals up to 12 meters long. The best time for you to see whale sharks is from June to September. Sailfish, marlins, humpback whales and other sea dwellers are sighted, but you need a good portion of luck for those ones.

Baitballs, the king’s class. This phenomenon and highlight can occur to you theoretically everywhere around the islands and at any time. But lucky hits are best when a large number of shoal fish gather around flotsam such as tree trunks or old fishing nets and seek shelter. You can recognize it by the hundreds of seabirds that plunge into the water. And by the tunas that jump out of the water and plunge into the fish mass at full speed. If you get to the scene in time, you will see an unbelievable picture underwater. Metre-long tunas and hundreds of silk sharks hunt hectically for the popular meals and the schools of fish try to deceive the hunters with skillful maneuvers.

The best Dive Sites at Malpelo Island

Nevera (the fridge)

This is probably the most popular dive site in Malpelo. A 40 Meter deep slope fitted with large boulders and plenty of corals fans. It is also the best hammerhead cleaning station. The depth range lies between 12 and 35 meters. We have experienced some of the most action-packed dives in Malpelo at Nevera. When diving out in the blue, sometimes even the local bottlenose dolphins can cross your way. 🙂

La Gringa

The Dive Site La Gringa is the biggest pinnacle sticking out of the water in Malpelo. It provides a beautiful swim through starting at 32 meters and reaching up to the surface.

The outside of La Gringa offers an interesting rocky landscape. Here you will also have the chance to see the biggest amount of hammerhead and during the season also silky sharks in Malpelo.

Ferreteria (Hardware store)

This is the most exposed dive site. Depth ranges between 18 and 35 meters. The dive site Ferreteria is always good for surprises. Whale sharks and Silky Sharks are likely to show up here. Special about Ferreteria is the incredible density of fish as well as the largest amount of spotted moray eels.

3 Musketeers

The Dive Site “3 Musketeers” is named after 3 majestic rocks. It is the symbol of Malpelo Island. When the current isn’t strong, this is a great site to find huge swarms of big eye jacks, big Galapagos sharks and lots of Silky sharks. The mid rock is called “Portos” and offers a beautiful swim-through. Depth at the 3 Musketeers ranges from 22 to 35 meters.

Quick facts about diving at Malpelo Island

How do you get to Malpelo Island?

Malpelo belongs to Colombia and since 2018 you can only get there from Colombia. The journey by ship from Buenaventura takes between 24 and 28 hours. Depending on the boat and sea conditions. The Colombian Liveaboard Operator “Malpelo Tours” offers several Tours a year. They have 2 different boats. One for every budget. 🙂


National Park fees at Malpelo

Malpelo Tours will informe you about the exact amount before your booking. As of January 2018 this is approx. 40 USD per day and person. But for this proud price you also get exclusivity. Because in contrast to all other destinations, only one tourist boat can anchor in Malpelo at the same time. This means that you don’t have to share the spectacular dive sites with other dive boats.

What do I need for diving at Malpelo Island?

A 5 – 7 mm diving suit with hood is ideal. In addition, diving knives, signal buoy and dive computer. We recommend Advanced Open Water training as well as diving insurance. So this dive site only to safe divers who have a safe buoyancy and have some experience with diving in exposed dive sites.

Seasons for diving at Malpelo

Colombia is a tropical country. There are not really seasons. However, winter is considered to be between November and April. During that time water is between 22 to 25 degrees Celsius. The minimum will be about 18 degrees and maximum about 27.

Summer is between May and October. The water temperature will always be about 24C and 27C. With a minimum of 23C and a maximum of 28C.