Dive a Legend
The Galapagos Islands are the second largest marine reserve in the world. Due to their isolation they remained undisturbed for millions of years and this resulted in the evolution of a number of unique individual ecosystems, with many species found nowhere else in the world. Skin Diver Magazine has rated the Galapagos Islands as The worlds best dive destination. Rubicon has researched many tour operators and we feel the Aggressor Fleet and Galapagos Adventures offers the broadest spectrum of diving and land experience programs. Because of extreme conditions, swift currents and cold water, Galapagos Islands diving is not recommended for beginning divers.
The Galapagos Islands are an isolated archipelago of roughly 125 volcanic uplift islands. They straddle the equator and are located approximately 600 (1000km) miles of the coast of Ecuador. Rodale's Scuba Diving Magazine rated the Galapagos the #1 diving destination in the world. The extreme currents and cold water contribute to the diversity in the marine environment. In addition, make diving a challenging experience. From Undercurrent: Galapagos Islands Update: On August 23, Ecuador's President, Rafael Correa has supported liveaboards' proposal to continue dive trips until December 31 and all Galapagos National Park dive trips through 2007 will operate. The GNP will issue new diving permits for 2008, but local fishermen will be given priority, which may mean fewer Galapagos dive trips. . . .No changes were made to Correa's lifting of the ban of taking shark fins "caught accidentally." hundreds of sharks are now being slaughtered daily.
I started my trip in Guayaquil. My plan was to spend a few days on the central coast of Ecuador prior to our departure on the Galapagos Aggressor II. The guidebooks said that Montanita, was the surfing capitol of Ecuador. It was OK but certainly not "epic". Stayed at Charos Hostal and I would highly recommend this place (www.charoshostal.com). The next day I caught a bus to Puerto Lopez-the gateway to Machililla National Park and port for boats going to "Isla la Plata" an island approximately 15 km off the coast and part of the National Park. Isla de Plata is renown for large mantas and excellent diving. They call the island: "the poor mans Galapagos".
Isla la Plata: Dived with Exploramar Divers Dive one. Maximum Depth 110 ft. my rented equipment didn't include a computer but the instructor had one. We followed his profile dive and spent most of our time at 60 ft. Visibility was over 10 meters, close to 40'. The fish life was prolific and included cornet fish, stone scorpion fish, 3 turtles and two manta over 3 meters. The second dive was 25 meters, 39 minutes. On this dive we hit very strong currents. More trumpet and cornet fish, 5 large mantas 4 turtles, 5 or six morays.
After a full day of diving and whale watching I took the bus to Ayampe and stayed at La Tortuga Eco Lodge. They offer inexpensive cabañas on the beach. (latortuga.com.ec). It was a full days bus ride back to Guayaquil. We left the next morning to the Galapagos. Aero-gal few us to Baltra, where we were met by the Aggressor crew and shuttled to our boat. The first dive was that afternoon, a non-impressive "check out" dive. Dive Two (day 2) was Mosquera point. Visibility over 15 meters maximum depts. 70ft. Very little current, sea life included: 2 green turtles, 2 white tipped sharks one Marble Ray, a Mola Mola (sunfish). The topography was a rocky ledge.
Dive 3, same spot maximum depth was 56 ft. Same Marble Ray and fish but this time we played with a bull sea lion (not normally recommended).
Dive 4 and 7. Land Slide (I call this dive the amphitheater), Wolf Island, visibility over 80 ft (25 m). Fantastic dive. Strong currents. 4-6ft swells with consistent surge. We dropped to rocks and held on tight to watch the show. Hundreds of hammerheads, black tip, white tip, silky and Galapagos sharks. Large schools of eagle rays "floating" in the currents. Huge morays were abundant through out the rocky structure. Saw 5 green turtles.
Dive 5-6. Stark bay, visibility 60-80 ft. moderate currents. Saw several dolphins, more sharks.
Dive 8,9,10. Darwin Arch. 85 ft, visibility over 80 ft. moderate currents. Again, more hammerheads, Galapagos blacktip. Pod of dolphins. Eagle rays, Creoles. Several curious sharks came with in a meter of my camera. Prolific fish population. The week before six whale sharks was seen at this site.
Dive 11. Wolf Island Land slide. Again sharks rays prolific fish. My dive buddy was low on nitrox and wanted to go back towards the pangas. We hit the blue water current and were separated. Huge swells, strong surge and no boat or buddy in site. I was drifting farther away. My dive alert was useless. The wind made it difficult to keep my dive flag vertical (if needed all divers had gps tracking devices). I felt a "bump" on my fins. When I looked under the surface there were six silky sharks circling my feet. I temporarily fended them off with my dive flag; it was still a little scary until I saw Walter and the panga about 40 yards away coming to pick me up. I was very happy to get in that boat.
Dive 12-13. Cousins Rock; Visibility 70 ft. An old eroded crater made a nice rocky cliff dive. The many cracks and crevices were full of suprises. Including 2 seahorses and a frogfish. We saw two young sea lions chasing a shark.
Dive 14-15. Gordon Rocks. Visibility 50 ft +. Interesting dive site between two rocks. This area can get a strong surge", especially if there is any swell. Many rays, octopus, and several sea lions were observed at this site.
On our last day we toured a private ranch which is open to the national park. Since there are no other competing grazing animals, there are hundreds of giant tortoises. We spent a couple of hours there.
For more pictures of this Galapogas trip, please visit our web album .
Galapagos Aggressor is a first class operation and one of two operators who have permits for land and dive excursions.