The Galapagos Islands: Barracudas, Eels, and Sharks, Oh My!

The Galapagos Islands

One of the biggest question marks we had in South America was whether or not to visit the Galapagos islands. We were on the fence mainly because of budget concerns. While the Galapagos islands are one of the coolest places to visit in the entire world, it is also very pricey. After doing some research, we decided to just go ahead and book the flight there and hopefully get on a last minute cruise once we arrived.

The instant you land at Baltra airport, there is a unique feeling of excitement. The volcanic archipelago that makes up the Galapagos islands is home to some of the most interesting wildlife in the entire world. The arrival was a bit of a culture shock for us as well. We haven’t seen so many older white people in a single destination in a very long time, and this particular bunch seemed to exclusively adhere to a dress code of goofy looking hats and fishing/exploring gear clearance racks. We weren’t the only younger people to visit, but the vast majority of visitors are of the older variety.

Most people opt to start their cruise immediately upon arrival in the Galapagos, but we chose differently. Our plan was to shop around on the island for the biggest savings available on a cruise. But our other objective was to schedule two days to go scuba diving. In addition to some of the incredible wildlife above ground, the Galapagos hold some of the world’s greatest and most well preserved underwater wildlife, and we have been looking forward to diving since our sea lion dive in January.

We booked our two days of diving with Scuba Iguana, one of the best diving outfitters in the Galapagos. Both Dana and I were excited and a little nervous, because this was only our seventh dive and it’s been almost four months since our last one. It took a couple hours to reach our dive destination by boat, and we met a very nice couple from Australia named Mike and Sandi. They were our age and had almost 50 dives under their belts! Mike and Sandi would be the other two people who made up our dive group, so it was nice to be divers who had a lot of experience.

When we reached our dive location, the divemasters gave us our safety briefing and then it was time to suit up our gear and get in the water. We managed to acclimate ourselves to being underwater quickly and comfortably. Now it was time to see why the Galapagos is known as a world-class diving destination.

Getting ready to dive

A unpuffed pufferfish

An eel sticking his head out of a hole

A school of barracudas

Rockfish (can you see him?)

Big stingray

Parrotfish (Dana's favorite- they look much better in person)

Another eel we encountered later on

The sheer number in the schools of fish were amazing

As you can see from the pictures, our first dive was great. We saw a great variety of interesting marine life, and both of us had a great time. Our second dive brief was where things would get interesting. We were told we had a great opporunity to see white tip sharks and maybe even some hammerhead sharks! Dana wasn’t thrilled with this news, but as always, she was a trooper and was ready to go for the second dive.

A napping shark, up close and personal!

These guys were thankfully uninterested in us, but breathtaking to see swim around our group

I know its a bad photo, but it's still shows our view of our first Hammerhead shark!

A shark swimming below Dana

You can see the full view, but that's a shark swimming below me

A Nudibranch - one of the coolest small lifeforms in the ocean

Another miniature creature of the sea, stick his head out of his house

Heading up to the surface with our other diving partners, Mike and Sandi

Heading to the surface

 Our experience with the sharks was incredible. They were pretty indifferent to us observing them, but to see such a fearsome creature in their habitat was exhilarating for us. We only were able to see the hammerhead for a few seconds before it disappeared, as they are shy towards humans. We have one more day of diving and then we hope to have a cruise booked to see the rest of the less inhabited islands of the Galapagos.

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One Response to The Galapagos Islands: Barracudas, Eels, and Sharks, Oh My!

  1. Mike says:

    Nice pics, especially like the Nudibranch! I really have to get myself an underwater housing one day…

    Hope you guys are settling in well… we’re back home in a few days too

    p.s – check out our latest album on facebook – we did a Great White Shark cage dive last week and it was awesome!

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