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My Research Notes from Planning Galapagos Trip

Discussion in 'South America' started by drrich2, Jan 29, 2020.

  1. drrich2

    drrich2 ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Southwestern Kentucky
  2. peeweediver

    peeweediver Barracuda

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Chicago area
    drrich2: What an amazing resource for people to use! Just an incredible collection of information. My LDS and I spent two days at DEMA trying to decide on the boat and time of year for the shop's 2022 trip to Galapagos. I had done the initial research before we went. At the end of the two days we had massive headaches and were no closer to a decision. Trying to weigh the shop's customers' desires with price proved challenging. However, we finally decided on the Calipso for January 2022. We had just come back from the 13 day Explore Baja trip with the Rocio del Mar and spent a day snorkeling with whalesharks, so seeing them was not our top priority. Hence we chose warmer water. Trying to determine when was the best time for hammerhead viewing was also hard based on conflicting advice. Sure wish we had your research before we went.
    Thanks again for what many people will find to be the definitive treatise on scuba diving in Galapagos.

    drrich2 and KathyV like this.
  3. JohnnyQuest

    JohnnyQuest Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Yikes! Amazing amount of information. Thanks!

    My wife and I have been to Galapagos twice (going again this coming April - I hope the hammers will be there!!), Malpelo once, Cocos twice, and Socorro three times. They are all different and all pretty amazing IMO. Socorro is the most "beginner friendly", but even that can be challenging, especially at Roco Partida so I'd certainly recommend a minimum of 50-100 dives before going there. The other destinations can be even more challenging. Here's a very quick summary:

    Galapagos November - We "only" saw two whale sharks, but every dive was fantastic. There was a tornado of activity on almost every dive, with various sharks, turtles, sea lions, tuna, tropical fish, etc, It just never seemed to end. On one dive, I was drifting in the blue off of Darwin when a school of tuna came in and darkened the sky. I was in the middle of them as they whizzed by, and all I could see top to bottom and 360 degrees was tuna. Also, experienced wicked current - on one dive we were all blown into the blue and surfaced more than a mile away. We also experienced the roughest seas ever in more than 30 liveaboards throughout the world.

    Galapagos August - Saw 11 whale sharks! Saw mola mola, saw everything above including tuna, but in a school not quite as large.

    Malpelo July - Middle of nowhere! If you get into trouble, you are SOL. NOT for beginners. You are at the mercy of the boat crew so book with a proven outfit. We saw whale sharks every day, hammerheads, eagle rays in formation, massive schools of jacks and creole fish. And schools of silkies - the only place where we have seen schools that large - hundreds of them

    Socorro - February twice and March once. First time we went, the Solmar V was the only boat there. Second time, there were more boats, the third time (March 2019), there were 6 boats at Roco Partida! We still had great diving, but I'm afraid the place is going to be destroyed if they don't limit the boats. We had 45 minute limits on dives and we'd jump in just as the prior group was leaving so there are divers on the same site constantly for 8 hours each day! It's not what is used to be, but the manta and dolphin encounters are like nowhere else. We saw sharks too, but not anything like we've seen elsewhere. Socorro is for Manta and dolphins. You can see whale sharks, humpbacks, bait balls, and big schools of hammers, but those are hit or miss. I really hope this amazing place doesn't get destroyed, but even more boats are heading there!

    Cocos - May and October. I can't really say that the conditions or life were different based on our two times there (and the trips were 10 years apart). The last time we went was in 2010. The tigers were there unlike the first time. The water was rough to the point were more then half the boat was sea sick and didn't do much diving. My wife and I did every dive and didn't think it was that rough. Diving was great both trips, but we saw many more hammer heads on our first trip. We saw one whale shark on the 2nd trip but none on the first. The night dives are just crazy, but I don't think they are doing them anymore, and frankly, I don't think I would do them again given the tiger issues they have had.

    BTW, the whale shark in my avatar wasn't from any of the above trips. I shot that in the Sea of Cortez.
  4. drrich2

    drrich2 ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Southwestern Kentucky
    Don't recall mentioning it before, but worth knowing - From an OnTheGoTours.com page -
    "Is tap water safe to drink on the Galapagos Islands?
    The tap water on the Galapagos Islands is not safe to drink so only drink bottled water, which is readily available on board cruise boats. It's wise to avoid ice cubes in drinks, and salads, which may have been washed in unhygienic water."

    I Googled the matter because yesterday I started Cipro by my family Doctor after a Bio Fire rapid test showed entero invasive E. coli - a test done because I've had diarrhea since I was on San Cristobal (where I drank water from a pitcher in a hotel room), and while I also think I'd just picked up one of those '24 hour G.I. bugs' at work on top of it, and can't prove when I got infected with whatever, it had me concerned. Seem to be a good deal better already today. Go, Cipro!
    Esprise Me likes this.
  5. Dom@DiveAdvice

    Dom@DiveAdvice Dive Travel Professional

    # of Dives:
    Location: South of France
    Hi Dr Rich,

    Sorry I am a bit late to the table on this but after a pretty wild ride in these last few months of COVID 19, it is only on Easter Monday that I have found time to check out some of the posts I had missed.

    Thank you sir for your incredibly informative and comprehensive posts. It’s almost a thesis for what, where, when, and how to dive these destinations and I appreciate the huge amount of time and energy you have taken to compile the info – I have been at it for 34 years and have never seen all this put so succinctly in one place – bravo.

    I have dived extensively in Galapagos, Cocos and Malpelo, and they are all at the top of the world class mega big animal destinations, but I agree that conditions at Malpelo can be the most challenging of all, although the northern islands of Darwin and Wolf do have their moments too. Fortunately with technology such EPIRBS (Nautilus Lifelines), we hope that we can avoid ever having a situation of losing a diver in these remote places, so although pretty well all the boats now supply these as standard equipment, it is always important to reconfirm they have them available on board or bring your own.

    I think you mentioned it briefly, but in all these destinations, the liveaboards dive basically the same sites but Galapagos is slightly different as each boat has its own distinct itinerary, and some dive different islands than others and even dive different islands according to the season. The GNP design their itineraries so that the fewest number of boats will be diving any site at one time – usually no more than 2. In their regular 7 nights schedules, the only boat that spends 4 full dive days at the Northern Islands of Darwin & Wolf is the HUMBOLDT EXPLORER, while the other boats spend 3 days D&W and AGGRESSOR spends 3 days D&W from June to December and from January to May spends only 2 days up north and an additional day at Cabo Marshall.

    This is all important as if one has certain expectations of what you will see - if you have dream of spending as much time as possible at Darwin & Wolf, then the HUMBOLDT EXPLORER might be your first choice, however if your dream includes Mola Mola and marine Iguana, then she does not include those in her itinerary. Some boats start from San Cristobal and others from Baltra and this may affect the itinerary. Only one boat the CALIPSO provides WiFi throughout the voyage and for some people that is important to stay in touch.

    Rates vary from AQUA at $4295, to AGGRESSOR at $6595 and SKY $6805, and then those inbetween, with some including alcohol and nitrox, others this is extra. As you pointed out, there are discounted rates offered all year round although the season from December thru June tends to be less busy and thus more chance of discounts offered.

    It’s a complex puzzle but you have done much to simplify it and I hope that we can be of further assistance from there forward.
    drrich2 and Protondecay123 like this.
  6. DiveTheGalapagos

    DiveTheGalapagos ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    drrich2...Wow. Good job. I'm sure that will be very helpful for many people. Please allow me to update my own information. As many know, for 10 years before I took on the start up Calipso, I had a niche agency, Dive The Galapagos. For most of those years, I lived in Ecuador, then returned to the US. Unlike others, I focused only on Galapagos, no other destination.

    I am no longer with Calipso. Just before COVID hit, I quit. I'm happy to share or answer questions in a PM.
    drrich2 likes this.

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