Galapagos Islands Trip Report

By Scott Boyd

 The Galapagos Islands are a legendary diving destination, often considered to offer the best diving in the world.  I have to concur, so when the idea was floated for a second trip to the Enchanted Islands, I jumped at the chance.  Chartering the Galapagos Aggressor I for a ten day excursion was relatively painless, until the $54,000 invoice showed up and the two year wait for the charter dates began.

I won't bore you with the details, but the airlines damn near made it impossible to even get to the islands.  They cancelled flights and destinations on us four times.  We wound up having to actually move from Guayaquil to Quito, which at almost 10,000' of elevation, proved uncomfortable, but is a much safer city to stay in.

Arriving on San Cristobal island, we found the crew waiting for us, and caught up with some old friends from our previous trip (now working on another boat).  The luggage was laid out and we eventually found all of it, and passed it on to the crew.  We boarded a bus for the short trip to the town dock and took a quick trip in the pangas out to the Yacht, where the spoiling soon began.

After a safety briefing and room assignments, our gear arrived and we set up our gear for the week, as the boat headed to our first dive site.  Our checkup dives were fun as we were very entertained by the juvenile sea lions that cavorted around us.  After a nice meal, the boat headed to North Seymour Island.

North SeymourGalapagos Land Iguana

We had two very nice dives at North Seymour Islands, spotting lots of sting rays,  schools of barracudas, a few hammer heads and sleeping white-tipped sharks.  After lunch, we had a nice land tour of North Seymour Island.  I had been to the same island four years previous to this trip, but during June.  It was nice to see how the animals changed with the season.  

During our first trip, there were baby boobies everywhere.  On this trip, they were fewer and were just learning to fly.  The seal ion pups were still nursing and the iguanas were just as plentiful as I remembered them.  One of the most amazing reasons to go the islands is the extraordinary behavior of the animals.  The lack of predators on land means that they really have no fear of humans, and will often walk right up to you.  No petting allowed!

Cabo Marshall Manta Ray Photo from Cabo Marshall

That night, the boat moved to the east side of Isabella Island, just off Marshall Cabo.  We dropped in for three very nice dives off the point, and were astounded by the number and size of the Manta Rays that cruised around both the northern and southern dive sites.  Giant schools of grunts, barracuda and others blotted out the sun.  Isabella is the largest of the Islands in the Archipelago, but is rarely visited by divers due to its distance from the other sites. 

The currents were very strong, but you didn't mind at all as even during your safety stops, giant manta rays would cruise by next to you or just below your feet.  Capturing the rays on camera proved to be very challenging.  We also enjoyed visits by white-tipped sharks and many varieties of eels.

 Next ( Punta Vicente Roca and Wolf Island).