Scuba Diving Galapagos, a dream trip that is high on the bucket list for many but is the hype real and is it worth it going there for your next trip?
The Galapagos Islands are a group of islands that extend over an area of approximately 60,000 km2 near the equator in the Pacific Ocean. Officially the Galapagos islands belong to Ecuador. The islands were formed by volcanic activity and eventually grew into 13 large islands, 6 smaller and 40 mini-islands.
How Do You Get There?
To get there you have to fly through Ecuador, you can choose a flight from Quito or Guayaquil. A ticket doesn’t come cheap and you quickly pay around 400 to 500 dollars for a return ticket from Ecuador. You can also purchase a ticket at the airport itself, which will take the price down a bit, but keep in mind that they are not always available and you often don’t have a choice in when you leave. Once you arrive at the Galapagos islands you pay around 100 dollars each entrance fee for the national park. You will arrive on the island of Baltra, but we immediately took the Ferry to one of the few habitable islands on the Galapagos, the main island of Santa Cruz. Later on we traveled to Isabella and San Cristobal by Ferry.
All the beautiful stories you have ever heard about the Galapagos island are certainly true. Because we had a land based package -and therefore did not go out with a live aboard – we could not go to the outer reefs, but in the end this turned out not to be necessary. The moment we jumped into the water during our first dive at Gorden Rock, we saw a group of sea lions playing in the sun. Underwater we could not believe our eyes … Sea lions swam around us and in the distance we saw a group of hammerhead sharks arriving.
After our descent to 28 meters we held on to the rocks with our special glove, and as the current was increasing, the sharks came closer and closer. Before we knew it, we were surrounded by 30 hammerheads, black tips and Galapagos sharks. And they came pretty close. If this was the first dive, I felt excited for the dives to come.
Every dive was fascinating and each dive we saw turtles, penguins, sea lions, sharks, eagle rays, groupers and barracuda’s . You should not visit the Galapagos for its corals or beautiful macro life, but if you like the big stuff, you are definitely on the right spot! Unfortunately we did not spotted whale sharks or orcas, but we heard they are seen regular in the area.
Diving in the galapagos islands is more suitable for advanced divers because of the currents. Especially in the months June to November the sea can be very rough. Furthermore, the water temperature is between 18 and 23 degrees and there is a rugged and rocky underwater landscape. There can be quite extreme weather conditions and you often find depths between 20 to 35 meters. You will certainly have some encounters with sharks and other big marine life. I myself lost my mask during a dive because of a current surge, so make sure you have enough spare equipment with you.
What Gear to Bring?
Many people combine this trip with Peru or Ecuador and therefore rent their equipment on the island instead of taking them on the trip. All dive centers we have seen looked good and neat. Diving is definitely the most practiced sport on the island and they have all equipment well maintained.
If you decide to take your own equipment, keep in mind u are dealing with the cold Humboldt current from Antarctica. This stream can switch daily, so you always have a chance of diving in a water temperature around 18 degrees. The nicest period is December to May and with some luck you can have a water temperature of 24 degrees. If u like u can take your dry suit with you and otherwise I recommend a 7mm with hood and gloves. What I surely recommend is to bring your underwater housing for your camera. Because it allows you to capture the great underwater life! At the dive center they will – depending on the season and the Humboldt current – have special gloves so you can hold on to the rocks or sometimes even a reef hook. My personal advice is to bring an extra mask and a buoy with you.
Above water it is just as fascinating as under water! You can see special fauna and flora that can not be seen anywhere else in the world! Hopefully you are up for a rough ferry trip, because you can only reach the various islands over the water. Each island is special and only a few visitors at a time are allowed. It is possible that in the mornings you walk on a beautiful white sandy beach, dotted with starfish and red crabs while you look for a palm tree to provide some shade, and in the afternoon you stand on the edge of a volcano wearing a thick sweater. On the island of Santa Fe you can see the special blue footed boobies doing a mating dance as you walk between the cacti and the red clay. White trees tower above the large cacti and it’s a beautiful sight.
What to do
There have also been times when we literally had to step over the leguanas and sea lions because they were resting in our hiking trails. Take a kayak trip and spot all the special animals or go for a walk on a deserted islands. In the evening you can relax on the island where you are staying and you will notice that you are in a tourist area. There are only 3 islands habitable, so all tourists are concentrated together. That’s also the main reason why the prices for food and drinks are ridiculously high on the island! Do not expect parties on the Galapagos islands, there are some bars but it is certainly not a party island.
it’s not a cheap trip and for your flights, stay and fees you will pay around 1000 dollars. Diving is fairly expensive and all foods and drinks are pricey. But in my opinion it is more than worth it!