10 nights, international and domestic flights, hotels, transfers and all the hammerhead action you can imagine!
The Galápagos Islands are an Ecuadorian archipelago of volcanic islands straddling the equator about 970 km west of continental Ecuador. The Galapagos are a UNESCO World Heritage site, an official Ecuadorian province, an Ecuadorian National Park as well as a biological marine reserve.
You may wonder what all this fuss is about, but we can assure you that these islands have earned all of these titles!
Firstly, these 18 islands and 100 islets are world-renowned for their vast endemic and unique wildlife, which were studied by Charles Darwin during the voyage of the Beagle. His observations and collections in the Galapagos contributed to the famous ‘Darwin Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection’.
Due to being located both in the Southern and Northern hemispheres, the islands are already an oddity themselves, but this archipelago is the land of every extreme.
Their vastness (220 km from North to South, 7,880 km2 of land spread over 45,000 km2 of ocean) is surprising, but the fact that it’s still being shaped by volcanic activity is amazing. The wildlife is just beyond wonders; plants, birds and animals do not seem to have changed much since ancient times. You’d be forgiven for thinking that this place seems frozen in time and to visit the Galapagos is truly a chance of a lifetime.
Few people are granted the opportunity of diving these pristine waters and no place on Earth will boast such a variety of underwater sightings. Your underwater adventures will encompass everything from whales to nudibranchs and much, much more. The islands are best known for amazing shark diving and you will generally have a chance to encounter silky sharks, the famous Galapagos shark and an abundance of schooling hammerheads. Macro-lovers will also get their share of the excitement with an array of seahorses, blennies, hawk fishes and many others.
Your trip to the Galapagos will be filled with memories to last you a lifetime and your experience may be challenging, but the rewards will be unforgettable!
**PLEASE NOTE**The description of the dive sites we may visit during your liveaboard safari aboard the M/V Galapagos Master. During our 10-night itineraries we schedule 4 days at Darwin and Wolf.
The M/V Galapagos Master is a 32 meter vessel and underwent a complete interior refit to the highest luxury standards in 2015, now sailing to some of the top dive sites in the Galapagos!
She welcomes a total of 16 divers on each liveaboard trip, maximizing safety and comfort for all guests on board! She features eight air-conditioned cabins spread across three decks with each cabin offering stunning views of the Galapagos archipelago. Each cabin has its own private en-suite bathroom with hot water, and ample storage room for all of your personal belongings. For your added convenience and flexibility, the M/V Galapagos Master offers cabins that can be used either as a twin or as a double bedded room.
The communal areas available to guests include a spacious indoor lounge on the middle deck. Relax and unwind from your day’s diving while watching your favourite movie or your latest underwater shots on the plasma screen television. The indoor dining area brings you a tantalising array of mouth-watering meals, complimented by the adjacent cocktail bar. Photographers can take full advantage of the indoor camera set-up station which includes multiple charging points (US round pin plug). Additional storage drawers to the aft of the vessel mean that even photography charter groups will have no problem finding enough space for their equipment!
The M/V Galapagos Master’s top sun-deck ensures that sun worshippers can top up their tan while soaking up the Galapagos sights. Or if you prefer to relax out of the sun, the shaded upper level is an ideal location to chill out in cushioned lounge chairs and benches.
The steel vessel is steadier than most due to the fact that it has been designed to be lower to aid stability and speed. The boat has an official license to operate and organise diving activities in the Galapagos, issued by the Ecuadorian government and the National Institute of the Galapagos, ensuring you that they have passed all the safety tests as well as complying with the strict environmental rules of the park. With all the latest safety devices – GPS, VHF radios, satellite communication, two life rafts, emergency oxygen and AED – you will know you are travelling in total protection and safety.
We can welcome everyone, but we recommend being qualified as a PADI Advanced Open Water Diver or equivalent and have a minimum of 50 logged dives. Dives can often be challenging, with strong currents and reduced visibility. All dives are guided by an instructor/naturalist guide and due to Galapagos National Park regulations all divers must dive with the guide at all times. While night dives are permitted in the Galapagos, due to conditions it is not often possible. The 4th day dive may be substituted for a night dive, but as this is only possible within a sheltered cove with minimal current, this averages about 1 night dive per itinerary.
Diving and travel insurance are mandatory to access the National park
|Prerequisites:||Open Water Diver||50 Logged Dives|
|Date:||4th - 17th March 2020|
The diving day aboard the M/V Galapagos Master has a typical schedule as follows:-
Light Breakfast followed by a briefing and dive 1
Full Breakfast, relaxation period, briefing and dive 2
Lunch, relaxation period, briefing and dive 3
Snack, relaxation period, briefing and dive 4, where possible
To allow our guests to explore the Galapagos to its fullest, on days 2, 7 and 10, dives 3 and 4 will be substituted by an island visit. Prior to your flight home, you may also opt to visit the Interpretation Center on San Cristobal Island.
After boarding at San Cristobal the Galapagos Master cruises to Isla Lobos for your check out dive. The sheltered bay provides an excellent shallow spot, at a max depth of 9m (30ft), in which to check your dive gear but also become acquainted with some of the local marine life. Sea lions playfully interact with divers, whilst sightings of turtles and rays are also common. Sea iguanas may be spotted too.
Punta Carrion – This boulder strewn reef provides a superb introduction to some of the larger pelagics we expect to see in the Galapagos, including white tip reef sharks but also the occasional hammerhead and Galapagos shark. Sea lions are ever-present and there is the opportunity for some macro critter spotting with sightings of neon nudibranchs. The wall has an average depth of 15m (50ft) and mild- medium current is to be expected.
Seymour North – Situated off the northern tip of Baltra Island, this site provides a stunning drift with sightings of white tip reef sharks, turtles, eagle rays and moray eels. Average depth 18m (60ft) medium current is to be expected.
Mosqueras – Lying in between Baltra and N. Seymour islands, this white sandy islet is not only home to a sea lion colony but supports a myriad of marine life from manta rays and bonitos to Peruvian grunts and fields of garden eels, whilst occasional schools of hammerhead sharks may be seen here. Average depth 20m (70ft) with a typically mild current expected..
Named after the German geologist, Theodor Wolf, this extinct volcano reaches 253m (780ft) above sea level and lies some 160km (100 miles) northwest of Isabela Island. Land visits are not permitted however bird life, including red-footed boobys and vampire finch, may be spotted from the boat.
For our dives here we choose from a selection of reefs and walls, most having typically medium to strong currents where the use of gloves and reef hooks is advised. Schooling pelagics are the main draw with sightings of hammerheads, white tips and Galapagos sharks at each site. During the season (May – November) whale sharks may also be seen here. Divers should also be on the lookout for red-lipped batfish, barracudas, moray eels and dolphins!
El Durrumbe (the Landslide) – average depth 20m (70ft).
La Ventana (the Window) – shallow lagoon leads down to a pinnacle and then out along the reef wall – average depth 15m (50ft).
La Banana – Wall dive with an average depth of 9m (30ft) – can have strong currents.
Punta Shark Bay – Reef dive with an average depth of 20m (70ft), typically good visibility, however care must be taken in the shallow water where waves crash up against the reef.
Anchorage – The reef, with typically very mild current, provides a good spot for a sunset dive, average depth 18m (60ft).
Hat Island – another spot with milder current, this reef provides sightings of numerous colourful fish species, average depth 20m (70ft).
Pinaculos (The Pinnacle) – known for its strong currents and speedy drift along the reef at an average depth of 20m (70ft), the site is excellent for shark spotting and the many cracks and crevices in the wall provide extra interest.
This extinct volcano reaching 165m (490ft) above sea level was named in honour of naturalist Charles Darwin. It is amongst the smallest island within the Galapagos Archipelago and like Wolf Island, no land visits are permitted.
Perhaps the most famed dive site is “Darwin’s Arch” which provides an amazing drift dive along the wall at an average depth of just 9m. Medium to strong currents are to be expected but bring with them hammerheads, black tips, silky and Galapagos sharks – and in large numbers! Schools of jacks are a common sight, along with turtles, angelfish and moray eels. Occasional sightings of tiger sharks, manta rays and bottle nose dolphins make for a thrilling time spent here. Whale sharks may also be seen between May – November.
Douglas Cape – Situated on the northwest point of Fernandina Island, this wall dive, with an average depth of 20m (70ft), offers something truly spectacular and is now famed for the feeding marine iguanas that congregate here along with sea lions, fur seals and speedy penguins!
Punta Vicente Roca – Alternatively known as “The Ice Box”, due to its chilling thermoclines, this point off the Northwest coast of Isabela Island offers a wall drift dive, along which mola mola can be spotted. The occasional Port Jackson shark may also be seen as well as the endemic Camotillo (White spotted sand bass). Yet Punta Vicente Roca is not just for the larger marine life but is also a fantastic place to spot pacific seahorses, frogfish, octopus, nudibranchs, flat worms and a variety of sponges. We stick to a maximum depth of 30m (100ft) with an average of 18m (60ft) whilst enjoying some milder currents!
Punta Albermale – Drifting along this wall on the north of Isabela Island, we stay at an average depth of 25m (85ft) to see manta rays, hammerheads, turtles, schools of barracuda and tuna. Roca Redonda – This underwater volcano, with its bubbling streams of natural gas (fumaroles) plays home to schools of hammerheads sharks and barracuda. Other commonly sighted marine life include Galapagos sharks which typically come close to divers during safety stops, as well as manta rays, silky sharks and some beautiful green/blue nudibranchs. With typically strong, changeable currents and some down currents, the diving here is challenging, though with an average depth of 18m (60ft).
Cabo Marshall -The craggy volcanic walls are covered with black coral bushes and the sheer variety of marine life is astounding. Sightings of manta, mobula and cownose rays are to be expected during the warm season (November – May). Meanwhile shark varieties include scalloped hammerhead, Galapagos and white tips. Schools of chevron barracuda and black striped salema are regular visitors along with yellowfin tuna and big eye jacks. And let’s not forget the sea lions and turtles!
Tagos Cove – On the west side of Isabela Island, opposite Fernandina Island, this shallow reef is an excellent late afternoon dive, where we have the opportunity to find seahorses, frogfish and long nosed hawk fish.
Cousin’s Rock – One of the most photographically productive dives of the region, Cousin’s Rock is formed of coral covered rock and lava flow. Sea fans, hydroid bushes, red sponges and small hard corals encrust ledges and overhangs, sheltering hawkfish, nudibranchs, frogfish and seahorses. Plenty of larger visitors are also seen including giant manta and mobula rays, spotted eagle rays and hammerhead sharks. The wall drops beyond 30m (100ft) but rises up shallow to just 3m (10ft) providing an ideal spot to end your dive playing with the sea lions.