What I Thought Of Scuba Diving In The Galapagos

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cleung

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Okay as I sort of promised, I did a separate video and article on Galapagos scuba diving for those thinking of going on such a trip (separate from my review and video tour of the Calipso liveaboard). In short, here's what I liked and did not like about diving there.

Liked

Marine life - whale sharks, hammerheads, dolphins, fish that are not scared of divers, seals, marine iguanas, my first mola mola, my first big fish bait ball and magical encounters including getting a sea turtle slap me in the head with its flipper and a seal poking its head in to look at my dive computer during a safety stop.

Hated

The colder water temperatures requiring my use of a dry suit over multiple dive days which resulted in bruising and irritation along my neck and wrists where the dry suit seals are. I especially hated the big currents and having to hang onto rocks in order not to get swept away (even though I did get swept away one time). The rocks totally ripped my dive gloves. Also hated using the inflatable panga boats especially in these rough sea conditions.

I did a much more detailed article based on my dive week there along with tips based on what I experienced and also produced a video to go along with it for those who would like to see it -- what Galapagos scuba diving is like plus tips

Definitely a magical place but at the same time, the most intensive week I've ever experienced!
 

Scuba Lawyer

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Having spent a total of 24 diving days on various trips to the Galapagos I can agree it is one fantastic dive destination! I can also attest that the diving, overall, is not for the brand new diver or the occasional vacation diver. Most folks that go on a LOB in Galapagos who are good divers come back even better divers due to the vast variety of dive conditions. I never used a drysuit there, a 7mm farmer john with hooded jacket was plenty for me in the 60 F southern islands. I can see where diving dry all day, every day could get physically umcomfortable, especially diving from the pangas and climbing back on, which require some contortionist moves on occasion. :) I would go through a pair of gloves on each trip, plus my wetsuit always needed a bunch of neoprene cement to patch all the rips and tears from hanging onto rocks in current. Regardless, Galapagos is a MUST DO, at some point in one's diving career. My 2psi. M
 

Esprise Me

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@Scuba Lawyer and others familiar with both, how would you compare the challenges of Galapagos diving to Southern California? A lot of the complaints I've heard about both places from people who dive in the tropics sound somewhat similar, but maybe it's actually a lot harder there? I would give anything to have a turtle slap me upside the head, but is the diving I'm doing now adequate preparation?
 

caydiver

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Cannot compare with So Cal but would say it was by far the toughest diving I have done. The few rough dives we did in the North in OZ were like taking a bath in comparison.
 

MaxBottomtime

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The rocks totally ripped my dive gloves.
In your video, you have neoprene gloves. Were you wearing them over dry gloves? Also, how tough were the negative entries in your drysuit? Did you have to make negative entries every dive, or just the sites with current?

Cannot compare with So Cal but would say it was by far the toughest diving I have done. The few rough dives we did in the North in OZ were like taking a bath in comparison.
Water temperatures are the same. The OP had 59°-75° depending on the site.
 

Merry

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Thank you for your video and comments, Clint. Very helpful. How many negative entries did you have to do? After a giant stride, I have to go back to the boat to get my camera so I haven't practiced that yet.
 
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cleung

cleung

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In your video, you have neoprene gloves. Were you wearing them over dry gloves? Also, how tough were the negative entries in your drysuit? Did you have to make negative entries every dive, or just the sites with current?

Water temperatures are the same. The OP had 59°-75° depending on the site.

I did not bring my dry gloves since they were leaking and was told before hand that warmth for hands were not the issue but protection was more important so tropical gloves were enough. My tropical gloves have leather palms and neoprene backs but as you can see, they still ripped. I ended up with some cuts on the finger tips where my gloves broke but did not cut my palms since that part help up okay. My hands were never cold even with the tropical 2mm gloves.

The negative entries were tough for me at first because I had never used my dry suit in salt water before so was still figuring out the weight needed. Took me a few dives before I settled in then was okay for the rest of the week. I tried to burp out as much air from my dry suit as possible before climbing into the pangas. We were advised to do negative entries on pretty well all dives except a few which were the two night dives (one in a lagoon and the other one in a cave) and the marine iguana dive. These dives did not have currents or very little plus they were shallow at about 45 feet so yes, it seems the negative entries were mainly for the dive sites with currents.
 
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cleung

cleung

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Thank you for your video and comments, Clint. Very helpful. How many negative entries did you have to do? After a giant stride, I have to go back to the boat to get my camera so I haven't practiced that yet.

All dives were negative entries except for the two calm night dives and the marine iguana dive. Those with cameras did have to wait at the surface to be handed their gear so yes some had a bit of trouble at top. There were no opportunities at all for giant stride entries since we used the panga boats for all dives including the few easy ones.
 

Scuba Lawyer

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@Scuba Lawyer and others familiar with both, how would you compare the challenges of Galapagos diving to Southern California? A lot of the complaints I've heard about both places from people who dive in the tropics sound somewhat similar, but maybe it's actually a lot harder there? I would give anything to have a turtle slap me upside the head, but is the diving I'm doing now adequate preparation?

Growing up diving the entire California coast, North and South Channel Islands, and off-shore seamounts I had no issues with diving anywhere in the Galapagos. Very similar in many ways. Areas of calm coves (albeit with with playful underwater penguins and marine iguanas), and areas of off-shore pinnacles and rocks with ripping current (and big-ass sharks). My opinion is that as long as you are a competent diver with cold-water experience (meaning heavier than used in the tropics exposure suits) you will do fine. Just an observation, but there were zero newbie divers on my trips to the Galapagos. There were some divers who were just plain idiots, but they were otherwise competent divers. :) It all depends on how comfortable you are in the water. I have known freshly certified divers with competency who would have no problem with diving the Galapagos. I have seen vacation divers (no disparagement meant) who have been diving once a year for 20 years always with a divemaster and always in 80 degree F tropical water who would likely die when the first hammerhead or Galapagos shark to come along knocked them into a barnacle-encrusted rock in a high current (and yes, that has happened to me several times in the Galapagos). So, to answer your question, some of the diving in the Galapagos is challenging, other dives not challenging at all. If you are a level headed diver with cold water experience you should do fine. YMMV. My 2 psi.
 

davehicks

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I did not bring my dry gloves since they were leaking and was told before hand that warmth for hands were not the issue but protection was more important so tropical gloves were enough. My tropical gloves have leather palms and neoprene backs but as you can see, they still ripped. I ended up with some cuts on the finger tips where my gloves broke but did not cut my palms since that part help up okay. My hands were never cold even with the tropical 2mm gloves.

The negative entries were tough for me at first because I had never used my dry suit in salt water before so was still figuring out the weight needed. Took me a few dives before I settled in then was okay for the rest of the week. I tried to burp out as much air from my dry suit as possible before climbing into the pangas. We were advised to do negative entries on pretty well all dives except a few which were the two night dives (one in a lagoon and the other one in a cave) and the marine iguana dive. These dives did not have currents or very little plus they were shallow at about 45 feet so yes, it seems the negative entries were mainly for the dive sites with currents.

I strongly suggest Kevlar dive glove for Galapagos. There are multiple sites where you will likely need to hold on to fairly rough and sharp volcanic rock. Typical tropical gloves won't protect you enough.

Not a fan of Negative entries as they are risky. Since I always dive with a camera as well, I don't do them and don't find it to be a problem as long as your don't linger on the surface.
 
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