For many years, I wanted to visit the Galapagos Islands, especially Wolf & Darwin. For some reason, I thought it was very difficult and expensive to get to from the New York. I was completely wrong!
My first opportunity to dive the Galapagos came in May 2018. A few month before the trip, my friend called me to say he found a last minute deal on the Galapagos Master Liveaboard. I agreed to join the dive trip and began to arrange travel.
Traveling to Ecuador from New York is so easy. We flew from NYC to Miami (MIA), switched planes and flew from MIA to Guayaquil. We planned to spend a day in Guayaquil to do some light sightseeing then head over to San Cristóbal Island to meet the liveaboard. Lucky we planed an extra day because my buddies dive gear didn’t make it on to our flight from Miami. The next day we tracked his bag through the airline’s baggage tracker app. We were relieved once it was loaded on the plane in the morning and arrived to the hotel ahead of schedule.
We spent the remainder of the day randomly touring the city on foot and by taxi. I though the area was pretty easy to get around and taxis were readily available. The food was quite delicious and affordable. Guayaquil offers a few significant architectural points of interests, such as Churches, Government Buildings, Museums, and high look-out points. The Seminario Public Park (also known as Iguana Park) is located across the street from our hotel (Unipark by Oro Verde), and is host to several families of Iguanas who are quite entertaining.
A day later, we hopped on a short plane ride from Guayaquil to San Cristóbal Island to finally meet our liveaboard. Please note there were a few fees we had to pay in the Guayaquil airport (about $25) and we also paid a park entry fee (about $125) once we landed on San Cristóbal Island. While the fees were not a big deal, you have wait on line to pay them and can’t prepay online. So, I would advise to arrive at the airport earlier than normal and have cash ready.
Once at our hotel, Casa Opuntia in San Cristóbal, we were greeted by a bunch of amazing sea lions. They were everywhere you looked – on the stairs, benches, walkways, bar stools, etc. The locals treat all wildlife with a great deal of respect and they expect visitors to do the same.
The Best Check-Out Dive Ever!
The opening video highlights some of the cool creatures we observed during the week. Visibility was not that great when we visited so I wasn’t able to capture the greatest underwater footage. It’s ok, I just have to visit again.
We spent 10 days aboard the Galapagos Master Liveaboard. Our first stop after the check out dives was Wolf and Darwin. We spent a day and a half at each dive site. During the dives we saw plenty of Hammerhead Sharks, Galapagos Sharks, Silky Sharks and a Tiger Shark.
We spent a morning with Marine Iguanas after Wolf & Darwin. These Marine Iguanas are only found in the Galapagos and they are the only Iguanas that forage for food in the ocean.
We also found a rare Galapagos Bullhead Shark on one of our dives. Even though this small shark species was described as early as 1840, little is known about this elusive creature. It’s geographic distribution, life cycle and population size are still unknown to science. There are several organization who are trying to learn more about Bullhead Sharks like http://www.bullheads.org/ and http://galapagosconservation.org.uk/projects/galapagos-bullhead-shark.
During my trip to the Galapagos. I shot mostly video on a Gopro Hero 6 Black and photographs on a Sealife DC2000. Both with Sealife Sea Dragon 2500 lumen lights. You can see a picture of my underwater camera set up here.