What not to do Scuba Diving in the Galapagos Islands

Hammerhead Sharks,
Gordon Rocks, Galapagos Islands

Scuba diving with inexperienced divers and a useless divemaster in the Galapagos Islands

One of the things that had always been on my bucket list was to go Scuba diving in the Galapagos Islands.

The Dive Site

The Dive Site

Check out the different options for diving the Galapagos Islands here.
When I was there, I knew I didn’t have the money in order to hop on a live aboard, so I thought I would do some day diving from Santa Cruz and Isabela with my buddy.
We found it easy to travel around the Galapagos without a tour, and checked out some of the day diving from the islands.

The problem was that my buddy wasn’t particularly experienced… he had 7 dives to his name. I knew that the diving would be difficult, but figured it wouldn’t be much of a problem as I would be able to take care of him.
We found a shop that would let him go diving, breaking the island rule of divers having a minimum of 20 dives experience. It didn’t occur to us that others would also seek out this same dive shop for the same reason.
When we got on the boat, we asked the other divers; one had 35 but his girlfriend only had 13, and the other couple had 9 dives and 7 dives, respectively… awesome.We arrived at the site with meter high waves and were rushed into the water by the divemaster… and I mean rushed. He made everyone jump before him and refused to let anyone do their buddy checks on the boat, telling them to do it in the water. I jumped into the water as soon as possible to help out all the others and try to calm their nerves. I even had to tell the divemaster to hold on a second before we descended, so that the two  really inexperienced divers could calm down.

I was hoping for a experience similar to when I went diving with a whale shark in Thailand.… Where we also rushed into the water… boy was I wrong.

The conditions didn’t improve greatly underwater, and we continued to be pushed around by the swells. Visibility wasn’t great, 3 metres or so and the water was at 21 degrees.

Myself, Watching them surface

Myself, Watching them surface

After about 20 minutes the two were out of air and the divemaster told them to head to the surface on their own. We had as much of an altercation underwater as you can have, as I used some choice signs to tell him that he was f’n crazy to send them to the surface unguided with no marker in conditions that were anything but ideal. My personal dilemma was whether to end my dive with them, after only 20 minutes or to continue on… I decided that I wasn’t actually working, and watched them as they surfaced, whilst free flowing air from my regulator in order to create noticeable bubbles on the surface, hoping that it would make them noticeable… they surfaced fine and I continued on.

My buddy with functioning equipment

My buddy with functioning equipment


Back with the group we saw hammerheads. My buddy was fine so I wandered a little closer on my own with no quick movements and they came closer. As I turned I saw my buddy in full panic, his air had cut off suddenly. He managed to get to me, and I gave him my alternate regulator. The divemaster had also noticed his issues and came over to give him his alternate. Looking at my air, I realized I had used quite a bit in the free flow earlier, so the divemaster took over my buddy. At this point, I took notice that his alternate was a good 3 metres long, much longer than usual and it made me wonder if he had this problem frequently.

The rest of the dive went well, seeing many hammerheads. We surfaced around a corner and the boat picked us up. However, our other divers were not on board. Our divers were missing for a few minutes before we saw them on board another boat.

We weren’t able to go for our second dive, as the coast guard was there, and the captain told us something regarding not having a proper propeller-guard.

Later that day, talking to a dive instructor on the island, we discovered that a lot of dive shops don’t have licenses, so they try to go without getting caught. It turns out that the coast guard had showed up as we got to the site, which is why we were so rushed to get into the water, and why we were unable to go on the second dive.

If that got you a little down on diving, be sure to get the flip side by checking out my amazing experience with a whale shark in Thailand. 

Not all diving in the Galapagos is as unsafe as this experience, here are some better ways to do it:
Scuba diving in the Galapagos Islands

Or check out how to do the Galapagos without a tour.

8 thoughts on “What not to do Scuba Diving in the Galapagos Islands

    • Jonny Jenkins Post author

      If you’re planning on doing it on Koh Tao, let me know… Lived there for awhile, as a diver and still have some contacts out there… I’ll be more than happy to give you a little breakdown 🙂

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