So I'm only 4 weeks off departing for South/Central America and whilst I'm leaving most of my itinerary up to chance, I am interested to find out if anyone thinks I need to pre-book scuba diving trips in the Galapagos before I go?
My friend and I have booked flights from Quito to San Cristobel and we have 3 days available to dive. The guide books/websites are saying June is a peak month in the Galapagos and we should book ahead, but it appears most of the 'pre-book' dive trips are about USD$200 per day for 2-3 immersions. To me this seems quite expensive and I'm tempted to just turn up and try and find a local provider for cheaper. On the other hand, the Galapagos dive sites are apparently some of the best in the world and I would be devastated if we got to there and all the dive trips were booked out.
So…. I’m keen to find out if any other scuba divers have just turned up in San Cristobel and found a dive operator when they got there… if so – was it cheaper? Did you have any problems booking? Was the equipment/boats in good repair? Also, for anyone that has dived in Galapagos in June – how busy is it? Should we pre-book dives and accom?
There's great snorkeling in San Cristobal, but the best land-based diving is in Santa Cruz. If you can find someone to take you to Floreana from San Cristobal, that's worth it. Otherwise, the best dive sites are from Santa Cruz, not San Cristobal. Sites like Gordon Rocks, North Seymour/Mosqueras, Cousins' Rock, etc.
Most daily dive shops work on a schedule (Site A on Monday, Site B on Tuesday, etc) and only with a minimum number of divers. They will cancel the dive if they don't have the minimum number. I work with a land based diving program out of Santa Cruz and it took me six months of work to arrange a situation that will guarantee the dive you want in advance.
Be careful of who you dive with!! Just because someone has a divemaster's license does not necessarily mean they were trained for it. Many were literally purchased. I had friends last year who were left at sea for nearly an hour while currents kept pulling them further out because they went with someone too inexperienced to realize they had to compensate for the current in terms of paying attention to where divers would surface. Go with Macarron or Scuba Iguana on Santa Cruz. I have no recommendations on San Cristobal. It is more expensive in advance because of credit card/paypal fees, overhead to cover online transactions, arrangements, etc. You may or may not be able to dive if you wait and just show up. Sometimes I've been able to, but twice last year, I tried to dive and never got to. On the other hand, dives do cost less if you just show up and get one...maybe you save $40-$50 pp
Equipment can vary so check it out first, however, due to weight restrictions on GPS flights, pretty much all dive shops provide all equipment as part of the price...no additional rentals necessary with dive computers being the only exception. Almost all provide 7mm wetsuits and the water there is 4-6% saltier, so you are much more buoyant than other places you may have been diving.
[ Edit: Edited on 15-May-2009, at 13:22 by divegps ]
Thank you so much! this information is really helpful - I've decided i'll pre-book 1 day of diving to make sure I definately get out at least once. I figure I'll then just turn up and hope for the best with the other days Thanks again!