Ecuador – Galapagos

8 years after our first trip to the Galapagos, we finally made it back to this very special place. A chance to SCUBA with whale sharks during peak season lured us back, and we were immediately reminded why we love these islands so much. Wildlife galore both on land and in the water…wow, Galapagos did not disappoint. Unlike our first trip in 2010, we came back armed with underwater cameras to record our marine adventures. Some of our highlights included: playing with friendly, bubble blowing sea lions at Playa Mann (with one trying to gift Becky some seaweed), snorkeling with dozens of turtles at La Loberia, swimming with a marine iguana at Punta Carola, being mesmerized by a whopping 24 whale shark sightings at Darwin’s Arch, getting front row seats at cleaning stations to watch scalloped hammerhead sharks getting rid of pesky parasites via butterflyfish, watching schools of dozens of hammerhead sharks both at Wolf Island and Darwin’s Arch, laughing as Becky got some turtle love by an overeager sea turtle keen on curling up in her lap, and indulging in phenomenal ceviche for cheap (courtesy of the excellent “menu del dia” offerings at the beach side food shacks). We met some wonderful people on our liveaboard with the Humboldt Explorer (two huge thumbs up), and had excellent dive masters Daniel and Paulo to guide us. Our return trip was so phenomenal that we are hesitant to return for a third trip…we fear nothing could top this trip!

San Cristobal

Hostal Terito – free airport pickup. Friendly owner and clean room with hot water shower and free drinking water. WiFi very weak and unusable. Had to ask for the AC remote control. No ventilation in the room (esp the bathroom, so nothing wet will dry overnight). Cost: $40 for 2 per night. Check out is at 9 am, but we were able to store our gear in the living room.

Casa de Jeimy – walking distance of the airport and sea port. Friendly staff who let us check in at 9 am. Huge rooms with fan (good ventilation). Close to the mercado (cheap meals upstairs). Decent WiFi at times. Free drinking water, two kitchens for self caterers, hammocks on the top floor. Cost: $30 for 2 per night.

Cri’s Burgers – people rave about the burgers here but they were just OK, prices were quite high. We preferred eating at the local food shacks which cost $4 – $5 (juice, soup, main). Highly recommend getting ceviche!

Humboldt Explorer Itinerary

27 Aug: San Cristobal check dive (near Playa Mann)
28 Aug: Punta Carrion (2 dives), North Seymour Island tour. Transit to Wolf Island
29 Aug: Wolf Island (4 dives)
30 Aug: Wolf Island (2 dives), Darwin’s Arch (2 dives)
31 Aug: Darwin’s Arch (4 dives)
1 Sep: Wolf Island (3 dives), Transit to Santiago Island
2 Sep: Cousins Rock (2 dives), Santa Cruz (visit El Manzanillo Galapagos Tortoise Ranch and free time)
3 Sep: San Cristobal morning drop off

The Humboldt Explorer is a great option for SCUBA diving in the Galapagos. Staff is competent and friendly. Dive masters were excellent, swapping between dive groups daily (2 dive groups of 8 pax). Briefings are very good, with nightly lectures on the wildlife. Nitrox is $150 extra (worth it). The crew bends over backwards to ensure everyone is happy and satisfied. Hot water jacuzzi on the top deck was a nice bonus although water level too low. Free soda, beer and wine on board, although you are cut off from diving the moment you have your first drink. Smart TVs in each room fully stocked with new movies and BBC Galapagos specials. We were upgraded to a stateroom next to the kitchen. Huge windows, including one in the shower (nice views looking out but nearby boats can also peep in!). Food on board was varied and good. Snacks all day and hot beverages and towels provided after each dive. We would dive with this liveaboard again if offered the chance!

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