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Diving from land or liveaboard?

Aberdeen, United...
Level Contributor
106 posts
100 reviews
Diving from land or liveaboard?

I'm trying to plan a trip to Galapagos for my partner in December.

Ideally we'd like to do a land cruise to see the wildlife living on the islands and get to do some snorkelling AND as we'd also love to dive with hammerheads and so are considering a liveaboard.

Looking at the cost of doing both a land cruise AND a diving liveaboard cruise I suppose I want to ask the question:

Is it really worth doing the liveaboard to get the opportunity to dive Wolf and Darwin? Or is the diving you can do on day dive from Santa Cruz sufficiently amazing?

I'd love feedback from divers who have been to the area as to what you can see at the local sites versus how amazing the far away sites are - but any advice from the local experts is also welcomed too. :)

Thanks in advance!

Quito, Ecuador
Level Contributor
1,566 posts
146 reviews
1. Re: Diving from land or liveaboard?

To do the cheapest live aboard plus a tourist superior cruise you will need at least 16 days in the islands. The cost that this would involve would be roughly usd 6000 per person without usd 450 for the airfare and one or two nights to stay there at a hotel.

Diving Wolf and Darwin would be definetely a great experience but the only things you would see there would be dozens of hammrheads schooling around you.

Also on a day dive at San Cristobal island you would be able to find some members of this species plus other sharks like white and black tip ones.

Are you a serious diver? If so, my recommendation would be to take the dive live aboard, if not, you will be fine just taking a regular cruise. You can do day dives from Santa Cruz to North Seymour, Cousins Rock, gordon Rocks, Santa Fe, Española or Lobería.

Out of Santa Cruz you can do Kicker Rock, Tijeretas and Caragua.

Get good advice on scuba diving operators and cruise operators here in the forums.

Saludos cordiales,

Dennis Yepez

Quito, Ecuador
Level Contributor
651 posts
2 reviews
2. Re: Diving from land or liveaboard?

I agree with Dennis: If you are serious advanced diving enthusiasts, then a liveaboard is the way to go.

If you can afford the time (and the $!!) to do both trips, then obvisously that should be your first option.

I personally have had some wonderful diving experiences from the Puerto Ayora, including North Seymour, Mosquera, and the famous Gordon´s Rocks for hammerhead sightings. Of course one can never guarantee what marine life will be found on the days you dive, but you certainly will get a good taste for the Galapagos islands from doing day dive trips, as well.

Good luck!

Aberdeen, United...
Level Contributor
106 posts
100 reviews
3. Re: Diving from land or liveaboard?

Thanks for the feedback guys.

I'm not quite sure what a serious diver is .... we adore diving and learned in Scotland so the cold water shouldn't cause any problems. The currents ... well, they sound a bit crazy! But for us the diving is all about the wildlife.

I guess it's just a decision we need to make ourselves - and almost certainly depending on the cost. I have some reservations about spending 2 full weeks on boats with no break in between for hotel/land based living. Also, spending so much time in the islands means we'll be limited on time to look around Quito and the Andes. (although the point of the trip is to visit Galapagos so I guess spending lots of time on the islands is not a bad thing).

I think I need to find out more about the diving around the main islands ... because if diving Wolf and Darwin is just about the hammerheads then I'm not sure it's worth the money - especially if there is a chance we'll see them at more local dive sites. If there are sun fish, mantas and maybe whale sharks on offer along with hammerheads then I think a liveaboard is worth the extra money. :)

The land cruise is a certainty - this is why we are coming to the Galapagos!! :) I've waited my whole life for this trip.

Thanks again for the advice.

Guayaquil, Ecuador
Level Contributor
136 posts
24 reviews
4. Re: Diving from land or liveaboard?

There is no comparison between diving Wolf and Darwin vs the central islands. Anyone who thinks otherwise has an agenda. You may see up to 6 hammerheads at Gordon Rocks, but up north, you'll probably see a school of hundreds. Depending on the liveaboard's itinerary, you can see mola molas in Pta Vicente Roca and definitely mantas at Cabo Marshall.

I had a charter last week and could not make it, so gave my space to someone who used to be one of the island hopping dive programs' divemaster. So he dived the central islands daily. This was his first time to Darwin and Wolf. He was speechless. He said in the central islands you have to seek and seek for marine life, but at Darwin and Wolf, it's just overwhelming. He said in the central islands, if you see 1 hammerhead, it's Woo Hoo! whereas they had hammerheads almost in their entire field of vision at times. There is a huge difference otherwise people would not continue to pay what it costs. And you never see any of the central island dive sites rank in international polls, but Darwin and Wolf have ranked (usually #1) in polls for over a decade now in terms of both the health of the marine environment and the pelagic life.

Go if you can.

Aberdeen, United...
Level Contributor
106 posts
100 reviews
5. Re: Diving from land or liveaboard?

What wonderful inspiration to go on the liveaboard!!!! I have to admit - we have come to the same conclusion ... even at the loss of time on a land cruise (it is just too expensive to plan both!). We made a list of the top 5 things we wanted to do (dive with hammerheads, snorkel with sealions and penguins, see marine iguanas and at least 1 species of booby and see the tortoises in the highlands) and we realised all the land based and snorkelling options can be done without a land cruise.

We are trying to plan flights which will give us a couple of weeks before hand on the islands so that we will have chance of a last minute land cruise but if nothing is available the alternative option of a carefree travel itinerary with visits to Isabela, Santa Cruz and San Cristobal. We would then finish up with a week on the liveaboard and then a few days chilling out In Quito before heading home.

Reading this has made me realise we have made the right choice and I just have to wait now to see if the spaces are still available! (Am waiting to hear back!!) *crosses fingers*

Thanks!! And boy - if we see Mola Mola that would just the best ever!! (my boyfriend lists them things to see before you die!)

Utila, Honduras
Destination Expert
for Utila
Level Contributor
3,115 posts
343 reviews
6. Re: Diving from land or liveaboard?

you must dive darwin and wolf, they are in a different league than the rest of galapagos. we saw hundreds of hammerheads, orca's, whale sharks etc. etc. personally i was disappointed with the diving at the other islands and would never return to the galapagos unless wolf and darwin was on the itinerary.

ps. my picture of a mola mola was taken in ecuador.

Edited: 27 August 2011, 14:53
Aberdeen, United...
Level Contributor
106 posts
100 reviews
7. Re: Diving from land or liveaboard?

Orcas!!! OMG! Was that whist diving or from the boat? Gosh I think I'd be a bit scared seeing killer whales underwater in case they mistook me for a sealion! LOL.

Which site did you see the Mola Mola - was it Pta Vicente Roca? Amazing photo!!

Thanks for the feedback.

Utila, Honduras
Destination Expert
for Utila
Level Contributor
3,115 posts
343 reviews
8. Re: Diving from land or liveaboard?

actually the mola mola was seen at isla de la plata.

the orca's weren't interested in us, they were too busy hunting hammerheads, the large male of the pod passed some of our group with a hammerhead in its mouth.

check out this video of our trip to ecuador

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GWKp6G6YO10

Aberdeen, United...
Level Contributor
106 posts
100 reviews
9. Re: Diving from land or liveaboard?

Amazing video and it just breaks my hear how many sharks are killed for shark fin soup. Your video is really moving and really tells a story ... all the wildlife is there .... but it is slowly being decimated. :(

I made a note about the mola mola sighting. Such strange fish!

Quito, Ecuador
Level Contributor
1,566 posts
146 reviews
10. Re: Diving from land or liveaboard?

Excellent video! I have dived the Galapagos and Isla de la Plata. Saddly, what you see in the video at the end is thee "Fish market which happens daily in Puerto Lopez.

Every day Mantarays and sharks are slaughter in this town in terms to satisfy the "sea bass" demand of the tourists that visit this area. Also as Divenuts say, the fins of these species are exported to Asia to meet the Asian people dietary demands.

BEWARE when you eat "corvina" (spanish for sea bass). You might be eating SHARK. I don't go to Puerto López anymore with my clients because of this reason. Everyday the hammerheads and mantarays slaughtery happens and no one does anything.

Shark fishing in continental Ecuador is sponsored by our "Socialist government" in exchange of votes.

SAD....

Dennis Yepez

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