Preparing for Galapagos/Socorro

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lancemajor

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Hi scuba colleagues,

My wife and I certified this last year and completed our advanced open water certification along with 20 additional dives in grand cayman this summer. One of our goals is to get the experience necessary to feel comfortable diving on a liveaboard trip to Galapagos (Darwin and Wolf) and Socorro Islands. We know we want some additional experience before we do this trip, so our question is:

Where are the best places for us to travel and get lots of dive experience at over the next two years to prepare us for the conditions we would encounter on a Galapagos/Socorro trip? Are there any additional certifications beyond advanced open water that would be beneficial for us to take?
 

Dogbowl

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Hi scuba colleagues,

My wife and I certified this last year and completed our advanced open water certification along with 20 additional dives in grand cayman this summer. One of our goals is to get the experience necessary to feel comfortable diving on a liveaboard trip to Galapagos (Darwin and Wolf) and Socorro Islands. We know we want some additional experience before we do this trip, so our question is:

Where are the best places for us to travel and get lots of dive experience at over the next two years to prepare us for the conditions we would encounter on a Galapagos/Socorro trip? Are there any additional certifications beyond advanced open water that would be beneficial for us to take?

We are basically doing the same thing (i.e., preparing for Galapagos), but have about 50+ and 60+ dives at the moment. I would not even attempt to go to Galapagos until after 100 dives at the least. I think some liveaboards actually have a minimum dive count set at 100. Galapagos is cooler water, so you'll either need 7mm wetsuit/hood/gloves or drysuit. So I suggest you practice where cooler water is the norm, such as in California. We are practicing in Canada, which is plenty cold. Cold water diving is a different beast than warm water diving. Galapagos also has currents, so you should practice where there are currents, such as Cozumel and maybe Indonesia, but they will not be cold water.

I am not familiar with Socorro but I believe the diving conditions are similar (maybe warmer?).

One more thing...don't make the Galapagos your first liveaboard. Do other liveaboards first to get the hang of it.
 

davehicks

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Galapagos has several sites where you are likely to experience strong currents, but this is mitigated by the fact that you will most likely be holding on to rocks (get Kevlar Gloves!) while you watch hammerheads drift along side.

Socorro might require more diving skill to do this location in an enjoyable manner. They may or may not be strong currents but you will need to be swimming in blue water (no bottom) for many of the best dives. There are some sites where you will want to go as deep as 100 feet and hang out for a while too.

Developing great air consumption, perfect buoyancy, and some extra aerobic fitness are core skills to build. Get yourself some sturdy power fins, lycra socks (no blisters) and warm booties. No floppy tropical junk full foot fins!

You don't get to do much blue water / no bottom diving in Canada, so Hawaii in Dec / Jan may be your closest bet. The water is in the upper 70's like Galapagos & Socorro and you can work on blue water buoyancy in your 5 or 7 mm wet suit.
 

dlofting

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I drove Socorro in a 3 mil shorty with a long sleeve rash guard in March. Others were in 5 mil suits but no one wore a 7 mil. Water temp was in the mid 70's. This is probably a bit warmer than the Galapagos.

To go and have fun you need to be comfortable in currents and be able to deploy an SMB from depth. I found Cozumel to be a good place to prepare/practice both of these

There is a hard bottom on all dives but it can be at or greater than recreational limits. You should be able to comfortably descend and then become neutrally buoyant at a specific depth, rather than needing to go right to the bottom
 

scubadada

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It's hard for me to say. I did Red Sea at 1110 dives, Cocos at 1280, Galapagos at 1540, with many cold water dives, drift dives, strong current, variable visibility. I enjoyed all these trips immensely. There were divers who had considerably less experience who had a tough time. I will be going to Revillagigedos next spring, really looking forward to it. Personally, I would wait for bucket list locations until you are ready, you will enjoy them much more and not be a burden to the guides and other divers. Sorry to be a bummer, I'm a realist.
 

Dogbowl

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It's hard for me to say. I did Red Sea at 1110 dives, Cocos at 1280, Galapagos at 1540, with many cold water dives, drift dives, strong current, variable visibility. I enjoyed all these trips immensely. There were divers who had considerably less experience who had a tough time. I will be going to Revillagigedos next spring, really looking forward to it. Personally, I would wait for bucket list locations until you are ready, you will enjoy them much more and not be a burden to the guides and other divers. Sorry to be a bummer, I'm a realist.

I agree with this. I've been questioning whether my Raja Ampat trip at the end of this year is premature. At least it's warm water.
 

Ministryofgiraffes

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It's hard for me to say. I did Red Sea at 1110 dives, Cocos at 1280, Galapagos at 1540, with many cold water dives, drift dives, strong current, variable visibility. I enjoyed all these trips immensely. There were divers who had considerably less experience who had a tough time. I will be going to Revillagigedos next spring, really looking forward to it. Personally, I would wait for bucket list locations until you are ready, you will enjoy them much more and not be a burden to the guides and other divers. Sorry to be a bummer, I'm a realist.

I agree with this. I did socorro as my first liveaboard and it was a mistake,
Second time round was much more fun. I struggled with the currents and swell, skipped some dives and was seasick. It was only after doing other liveaboards in the Caribbean that i realized that it would have been a better intro. It was still amazing but much much better second time around with the confidence.
 
OP
lancemajor

lancemajor

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It's hard for me to say. I did Red Sea at 1110 dives, Cocos at 1280, Galapagos at 1540, with many cold water dives, drift dives, strong current, variable visibility. I enjoyed all these trips immensely. There were divers who had considerably less experience who had a tough time. I will be going to Revillagigedos next spring, really looking forward to it. Personally, I would wait for bucket list locations until you are ready, you will enjoy them much more and not be a burden to the guides and other divers. Sorry to be a bummer, I'm a realist.

I agree with you! What I'm looking for is good locations that will help us develop the skills necessary for a trip like this. We want to get experience in mild/moderate current and any other factors that would help us prepare. We definitely are NOT planning on going to dive Galapagos right away! What locations have you dove in that are not as challenging as Galapagos but have some conditions that could provide training/practice? I know Cozumel has great drift diving, but we are open to other places too!
 

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