Malpelo is the
place to go to see a huge concentration of hammerhead, silky, and galapagos sharks. A sheer and barren rock, this island is uninhabited except for a small military outpost manned by the Colombian army. The crossing from Puerto Mutis in Panama is a reasonable 30 hours and the one-boat policy enforced in the National Park ensures that guests get an exclusive diving experience.
This is a challenging destination due to occasional rough weather and tough sea conditions in the area. Guests are required to have an advanced open water certification, at the minimum, in order to be on this trip. We were fortunate to have calm seas and good visibility on most of our dives; although we did have ripping current at times and sporadic squalls during the trip.
Our trip was hosted by Coiba Dive Expeditions aboard their vessel, the Yemaya. It's a 115-ft steel boat that accommodates up to 16 guests. I can't say enough good things about the boat and the crew. The laid-back atmosphere and the competent crew onboard made for a very comfortable and enjoyable trip. The standard cabins were conveniently located on the lower level (above the water line) forward of the dive deck. After we dipped our cameras in the rinse tank, hung our wetsuits to dry, and enjoyed a freshwater rinse, it was just a hop, skip and a jump away to our cabins for a change of clothes or a more thorough shower. Meanwhile, Sergio, Felix, Franklin, and Tino were busy working behind the scenes, making sure that we always had nitrox in our tanks for our next dive (we did 3 dives a day), a fresh supply of dry towels, and clean cabins and common areas. For some of us who wanted to socialize, Captain Wil and divemasters Sten, Arthur, and Eric were always around to lend a helping hand or trade jokes and life stories without invading our personal space.
My favorite place was the upper deck, where the sundeck, dining area, and bar were located. We always dined al fresco and Chef Juan Carlos would whip up the most delicious dishes, each with its own unique twist. Aside from preparing the usual continental fare, he also injected a lot of variety in the menu by serving different cuisines from the region and the Far East. And he made sure that guests who had special requests and last-minute dietary preferences were well-looked after. DJ Nelson would apply the finishing touch by carefully selecting a CD from his extensive music collection and playing the perfect accompaniment (special requests were entertained) to a feast served in a special, remote place. With this culinary tag team, other liveaboards would be hard-pressed to top the dining experience on the Yemaya.
I highly recommend Coiba Dive Expeditions and will return for another trip to Malpelo on the Yemaya. I would also choose this liveaboard for a dive trip to Cocos. Following is the link to their website: http://www.coibadiveexpeditions.com/coiba/