I have a summary at the bottom but let me just say that the diving allowed us to see amazing marine life and wasn’t as difficult or cold as advertised. I think that diving was a highlight of the overall two weeks despite the modest visibility and at times tough conditions.
Day 1 – Dive Sites: Mosquera Islet and North Seymour
The diving here was very good. The currents were moderate and we did our check-out dive at Mosquera Islet, where the visibility modest and the water was 70 degrees. We did get to see some good size wrasse and parrot fish along with a few string rays and a sea turtle (we saw a lot of these during our four days diving). I even termed them Galapagos Trash Fish (even though I really didn’t get tired of them.).
In between dives we got to go snorkeling with 20-30 sea lions that were extremely close and very interested in playing with us. It was a great way to spend some so called surface time.
The second dive was at North Seymour Island and was absolutely amazing because we got to see our first lone hammerhead. It came out of the deep and swam towards us, until it saw us and then promptly swam the other direction, which is unfortunate because I would have loved to see it closer. We also saw a school of eagle rays, a school of hammerhead sharks, a Galapagos shark, and an eating string ray along with a turtle that buzzed my head. What a dive!
Water Temperature was 72 degrees F and we dove to 22 meters (66 feet). Visibility was only moderate to poor at this site as well.
Day 2 – Dive Site: Gordon Rocks
This was the day with the strongest current and the aptly named washing machine effect pushing, pulling and generally throwing us around a bit. However, we were prepared and all very strong and seasoned divers, so we managed quite well and were lucky to see some hammerhead sharks, a turtle or two and a big variety of other fish as well. All in all, quite a fun day with two dives here both of which were very similar in current and water temperature but the first dive had slightly better visibility and allowed for more swimming and less crawling against the current.
Water Temperature was 71 degrees F and we dove 30 meters (90 feet).
Day 3 – Dive Site: Cousins Rock and Bartoleme
This was also the longest boat ride of the trip and required a 6am arrival at the dock to start the day. It did however include breakfast which just highlighted additionally how awesome our chef, Hiro was at cooking.
The diving at Cousin’s Rock was the best visibility of the trip, with visibility in the 30-40 foot plus range with much less particulate. We saw a boat load of turtles and in fact I turned around a few times to tell people that I saw one and realized they were busy watching more turtles that I hadn’t seen the first time. We also got to see an octopus out in the open (at least two of us did) and we swam through a school of Barracuda that was the size of small sailboat. Very mild current but colder water, Charles started wearing a double wetsuit after this dive.
Water Temperature was 69 degrees and we dove 23 meters (69 feet). Visibility as mentioned was very good.
We took a short snorkel during our surface time to find some penguins to swim with but to no avail.
The diving at Bartoleme was also very good visibility and had even less current than at Cousin’s but not quite as much wildlife. Which isn’t saying much as we still saw eagle rays, lots of turtles, a few moray eels, and lots of fish and reef sharks.
Water Temperature was 69 degrees and we dove to 22 meters (66 feet). Visibility was very good.
We also got to see a very large pod of dolphins on the way home, which was very cool.
Day 4 – Dive Site: Daphne Minor and North Seymour
Daphne minor provided good diving with modest visibility but again mild currents and a fun and easy dive that was a fairly short boat ride. We saw numerous things including turtles, some reef sharks, and a variety of reef fish.
Water Temperature was 71 and we dove to 20 meters (60 feet). Visibility was modest.
Unfortunately the dive at North Seymour was the last dive of our trip (but luckily not the last snorkel) and it was a great dive for a lot of reasons, despite having poor visibility. The dive proved that we were all comfortable in current, cold, and poor visibility as we got spread out to see things and no one panicked (except Dave our new dive buddy who performed admirably despite a lack of experience). The current here was moderate as we definitely had to kick against it a few times but it was nothing like that of Gordon Rocks.
This dive was a surreal ending to the trip as we saw a school of Hammerhead sharks, a school of eagle rays, a tiger snake eel along with a huge variety of smaller fish near the reef at the end. We were savoring every last second on this dive and really didn’t want to come up until the last breath.
Water Temperature was 72 degrees and we dove 20 meters (60 feet). Visibility was poor.
Summary: The diving in the Galapagos was great, not for beginners, but for people used to cold water (lower than 65 degrees Fahrenheit like we get in California) diving it wasn’t too difficult and the variety of sea life from large animals (rays, sharks, etc) to the small fish was well worth any hassle. I would highly recommend Scuba Galapagos for trips from Santa Cruz and thought they were especially good with explaining the dive sites, touring us around, having hot showers on board, amazing food (from a very, very small kitchen), and their equipment was good as well. Again, the quality of the boat and the staff were beyond expectations.
Although we didn’t use Scuba Iguana for diving, we did go to them repeatedly for information and they were beyond helpful with connecting us to Scuba Galapagos and answering our questions about diving and the Galapagos in general. We walked around their shop and talked at length with them, enough so that I would recommend Scuba Iguana for diving as well.
For those budget conscious travelers I have heard that if you just show up and try to get on a boat you can get a better deal than booking in advance. Beware though that you risk that all the boats will be full or not going out unless you book in advance like we did. However, as a single diver you should be ok.