SANTA CRUZ AND GALAPAGOS ISLAND (ECUADOR)

August 2013.

Almost whenever we think of visiting the Galapagos Islands as a diving destination we have in mind to do a "liveaboard" cruise with costs that can reach 5,000 €. It is true that in this type of trip, in addition to diving in Darwin and Wolf, two of the most emblematic islands of Galapagos for divers, offer a diversity of very attractive dive sites, but not always these routes are available to all budgets.

Santa Cruz Island, in the center of the archipelago, is a very good option to spend less and also enjoy spectacular diving.

SANTA CRUZ ISLAND

Santa Cruz, also called "Indefatigable", is the second largest island of the archipelago after Isabela Island. Due to its proximity to the international airport of Seymour, located on the island of Baltra, it is the departure point for almost all diving cruises. Puerto Ayora is its main city, where all the tourist offer of the island is concentrated: hotels, restaurants, stores and dive centers.

As points of interest is worth visiting the scientific station "Charles Darwin", where you can see several giant tortoises and iguanas in their small ranches; the upper area of the island, called "El Chato", where you can observe in almost total freedom the large turtles roam freely; Tortuga Bay, a huge beach with turquoise waters where you can stroll, sunbathe or watch hundreds of marine iguanas in freedom; "Las Grietas", a fabulous landscape formed by high stone canyons crossed by a brackish water river where you can swim or snorkel; and Puerto Ayora itself, with a charm in itself worthy of seeing and living.

DIVING NEAR SANTA CRUZ

One of the advantages of being in Galapagos waters, even if it is shore diving, is the possibility of encountering large animals on any dive. It is not difficult to dive with five meter mantas, sea lions, large schools of carangids, turtles, marble rays, Galapagos sharks and schools of hammerheads, which with a little luck can come within a couple of meters of you.

North Seymour is one of the typical diving areas near Santa Cruz. Both in the "Channel" (18 meters) or "Nordeast Cliff" (25 meters) you can find among its large rocks white sandy areas where large garden eels and marble rays abound. Lying among the rocks or swimming close to them there is always the option to see white tip sharks, very common in all the dives, which you can get as close as two feet to take good pictures. In the Cliff area, encounters with different types of sharks such as gulper sharks, hammerheads or even whale sharks are quite frequent.

Mosquera is an island located between Baltra and Seymour that although its size is quite small, only 600 meters long, can give us spectacular encounters. Without going any further it is one of the best areas to dive with sea lions. Not only can you see them resting on land but they can give you a "fun" scare when they dive just a few centimeters away from you. It is a very good area to see hammerhead sharks, large schools of barracuda and with a little luck have encounters with large mantas.

Although there are many more dive sites, as an end to this small summary of the dives in Santa Cruz, we can't stop talking about the jewel in the crown: "Gordon Rocks". At almost an hour and a half of navigation, in the eastern part of the island, two gigantic rocks emerge from the sea. The narrow channel formed between them acts as a funnel and generates strong currents, which attracts several different types of sharks, including large schools of hammerheads. The best area to wait for their passage is between the pinnacles or on the northwest rock. At only 10/12 meters deep one can have the experience of a lifetime, dozens of hammerheads passing very close overhead. If there is not much current one can dive in the same channel and go to meet them. In this case the approaches are usually more extreme, you can even see them coming towards you a couple of meters away.

NAUTILUS

Unlike other dive centers, there is one company that has opted to take the divers out on a 20-meter sailboat. That is the "Nautilus", from the company Nautidiving and since September 2013, within the Hispania chain of dive centers.

Being that length, the trips to and from the dives are infinitely more comfortable than if you go in a 9-meter boat. You can take advantage of this time to sunbathe in the bow or if the weather is bad, you can rest in one of the cabins. Another fact to take into account is the small snack that they give between dives and the final meal that is served in the lounge of the boat and back to port.

The dives are always done from their support inflatable, which simplifies any approach to areas complicated by waves or currents.

Sin duda, todo es comodidad y buen hacer a bordo del Nautilus

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