How is diving in Galapagos in December?

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Dan

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I'll be vacationing in Galapagos for the first time in December. For those who have gone there in December, how is your diving experience like (in terms of water temperature, current, visibility, what you would expect to see underwater in December, etc.)?

I'll be on a 7-night liveaboard trip with Galapagos Master from Dec 26 to Jan 2 and in Santa Cruz 3 nights before heading to San Cristobal. I sure like to know what best land tours (may be including some diving / snorkeling) to choose for the 3 days prior to the LOB.

Thanks
 

NatashaS

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Hi Dan,
I've done 3 Galapagos liveaboards in Dec. I summarized the wildlife sightings in an earlier post in this thread Galapagos xmas time .

I have found water temps fairly consistent over all the liveaboard trips I have done. Darwin and Wolf 72-74*F. Isabela mid to low 60s. Santa Cruz low 70s. I have not done Vincente Rock but I have seen high 50s in other spots in Isabela. You can also ask the liveaboard for the current temps that particular Dec.

For land-based day trips out of Santa Cruz I would look at North Seymour and South Plazas. If there are no trips there on the dates you have, the beach which you can walk to from Puerto Ayora is worth a visit (check the hours, it closes near dusk). Your liveaboard is likely already doing Bartholome but if it's not, that's beautiful for landscape.

I also love to dive Kicker Rock for liveaboards based out of San Cristobal (liveaboards can't dive it) if you can get a trip organized for your dates. Chilly (low 60s, I even saw high 50s one trip), but in the top two land-based dives of all the land-based dives I've done from Santa Cruz, San Cristobal and Isabela. I've even done it the morning you meet the liveaboard (when staying in San Cristobal beforehand).
 
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Dan

Dan

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Thanks for the info NatashaS.

At those temperatures, what kind of wetsuit did you wear? Would you think a 5mm wetsuit with hood is enough to keep you warm?

I haven't seen a hammerhead shark while diving. So, I'm excited to be able to see one in Galapagos. The only time I saw one was about 20 years ago, while fishing in one of the piers in Galveston, TX, accidentally caught one juvenile hammerhead shark about 3' long. I'm planning to go to Banda sea in November next year to see a school of hammerhead sharks.
 

NatashaS

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Hi Dan,
Alas I am likely not the best person for you to ask - I wear a 7mm in 80° and am frequently cold. I would be wearing my new 7mm suit + 7mm hooded vest for Isabela and the southern islands.

But I can tell you I have seen people skip or truncate Galapagos dives due to cold, so I would advise bringing as much neoprene as your luggage allowance will allow, focusing on layering. Better to have it and not wear it than wish you had it. The Master website is very vague on what your actual itinerary is (I always like to see the permit as you can see from there the itinerary for different times of year) but if you ask them, they should be able to tell you whether you're diving Punta Vincente Roca and/or Cape Douglas (the two coldest sites by far) on your trip. Also how many dives you are doing in San Cristobal or Santa Cruz (the next coldest) and how many night dives total you will likely have. Also you need good gloves (the liveaboard FAQ should have mentioned this) - you will be grabbing on to barnacle covered rocks in a bit of current.

I hope you have a great Banda trip but I assure you those hammerheads will be quite redundant after Galapagos. :wink:

Have a great time and hope you'll let us know how it went when you get back.
 
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randpchi

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I went to the Galapagos last December and had a great time. It was an El Nino year an the water temp was unusually warm, wore a 3 ml and wished I had my shorty.

The currents were strong but as an experienced diver you will be able to handle them, just settle down in the rocks and watch the show go by.

We saw hammerhead, galapagos, whitetip blacktop and silky sharks. There was a school of silky sharks that stayed around the boat the entire time we were on one site. There is a video of them on you tube.
Other sea life included sea lions, turtles, eagle rays, free swimming moray eels etc etc.

We did a buoyancy check the first day which was just a 5 min. go down, get weight dialed in and come back up excersize until this little sea lion pup shows up to play. Wow

Other than the lob (Humbolt Explorer) we just hung around San Cristobal so I can't help there. I am sure you will have a great time.
 
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Dan

Dan

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All my bags are packed & I'm ready to go! :D

Flying on the jet plane in a minute. :)
 
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Dan

Dan

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Unbelievable. After flying for half hour, captain of UA1035 announced that he heard knocking from the baggage compartment wall. So, as a precaution, we turned around & flew back to IAH. Now we are on the ground, seeing fire truck, ambulance & police cars flashing their lights. They are going to inspect the baggage compartment to see if there is someone hiding in there, may be freezing his / her b*tt off.
 
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Dan

Dan

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We are asked to change plane, so they can search the source of noise more carefully. It'll be 4 hour delay. Luckily my next plane from Quito (UIO) to Baltra (GPS) is 8 hours after from the original flight UA1035 arrival to Quito. So, it's down to 4 hours transit now. We'll see what happens next.
 
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Dan

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The trip turned out well. The 4 hour delay didn't affect the rest of the trip. I arrived in Quito on Dec 23 around 4am. My next flight to Galapagos was at 8am. I just needed to wait for an hour in front of the Galapagos National Park Office, inside the airport, until the office opened at 5am to get my permit for $100 fee. Flew to Galapagos as scheduled. Below is my itinerary.

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Here are some pictures I took while I was there:

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Tippytoes12

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Wow wow wow , what a fabulous hammerhead picture ! I'm so pleased that you had such a good time.....what was the water temperature like ?

Thanks so much for posting .
 

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