Is a drysuit overkill in the Galapagos?

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Our experience at Wolf and Darwin was that the dive masters would try to get you settled in at a "cleaning station" and then you would be holding on to a rock in current waiting for something exciting to swim by. You don't have to settle on your knees to watch, but depending on the current you do get pushed around quite a bit if you don't wedge yourself in. If you are a photographer holding on with one hand and trying to take shots in the current is an effort. Most of our group found that hiding behind a rock with your fins helping to keep us in place was the best approach. You can pop up at the last second and get your shot as things swim over you. A couple of notes: using your flash when the fish is 20 feet away makes the fish turn and become 60 feet away. Also when wedging yourself in take a good look for what is under the rock. There are LOTS of very active green morays and stepping on one is not good for them or you. In early July the coldest dive we did was 72 degrees. I was more than comfortable in a 7mm and would have preferred a 5mm. Only wore my hood once. I also wore out the finger tips in a pair of 5mm gloves just from hanging on or having to rock hop in the current when we decided to move to alternate cleaning station.
Do have to settle on your knees to watch the show?


I found that the best way to position yourself was to hold on to a rock with one hand and let the surge push you back and forth. Sort of "swing in the breeze" if you will. Doing so will wear out your glove by the end of the week. Settling on your knees will wear out your whole suit.

Ideally get between/behind an outcropping or something to keep you out of the worst of the current/surge.

One thing to keep in mind is that MOST of the dive in the Galapagos are spent "hanging on and watching" for a while and the drifting out into the blue. Either way, you're not moving around a lot on your own... so there's a greater tendency to get chilled than if you were swimming around a lot. My buddy and I dove dry and would again. (But we dive dry in Bonaire...)

The only time you really need to work is when you're trying to get in - and stay in - the shot when your buddy is shooting the whale sharks...

I wore my drysuit in the Galapagos a couple of years ago. Only a few minuses I found. 1- I ripped a wrist seal, but with zip seals was quickly fixed. 2- I got caught in an up current that sent me from 70 ft to 40 ft & then from 40 ft to the surface very quickly (it was "blow & go"). Back rolling off the Pangas, I had to wear extra weight to overcome the air going to my feet. On the last dive, my neck seal rolled & my suit flooded. Was freezing by the time I got out of the water.
I wear a 7 mm plus 5/7 mm hooded vest, gloves, 5 mm boots etc in 80 degree water. I have been mostly fine in this in three non-El Nino Galapagos Aug/Sep trips. On all the trips I have done, Darwin and Wolf (where you spend most of your time) have been 70-73 F. Where it typically gets cold are Isabela (typically 1-2 dives), San Cristobel (had one La Nina dive at 59 F) and Santa Cruz (check out + maybe 1 dive) but those are only a couple dives. Punta Vicente Roca is apparently freezing. I am sure the action packed diving partially accounts for me not being cold. Plus even when you are stationary there is often current you must withstand. Also the dives are generally limited to 50-55 min, and between the steaming, land visits and GNP restrictions, usually one does only 4 dives a day.

As a photographer I have found the best position to be wedged amongst the rocks. If you're smart about exhaling and a decent distance away from bubble clouds you can experience some very very close passes.

I would definitely consider what your back up plan would be if your dry suit was damaged. Not sure if the boat would have any spare wetsuits.

Can't help you with conditions this summer but hope you have a fantastic trip.

Almost forgot - for whale sharks speed is key. But I like free diving fins for that.
Almost forgot - for whale sharks speed is key. But I like free diving fins for that.

And swim to where they are GOING... not to where they ARE!

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