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Dive Review of Galapagos Master in
Galapagos Islands

Galapagos Master: "Very Good Diving Despite Catching Covid", Feb, 2022,

by David Marchese, PA, US (Sr. Contributor Sr. Contributor 20 reports with 27 Helpful votes). Report 11863 has 2 Helpful votes.

Photos Submitted with this Report


Click on an image to see an enlarged version and captions

Ratings and Overall Comments 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Accommodations 4 stars Food 4 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity N/A
Dive Operation 5 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 4 stars
Beginners 1 stars
Advanced 4 stars
Comments This was our 3rd Galapagos liveaboard trip, but the first outside of "whale shark season." We were hoping to see more hammerheads, more manta, and have better visibility. We figured that seeing all that would make up for the lack of whale sharks. December through June is also supposed to be the warmer-wetter season. In our 15 days there (5 on a nature cruise and 10 on the Galapagos Master), we didn't have one day of rain, and the water was colder than it was on our prior visits (August and November).

While this trip was excellent, it was similar to our other trips except that we didn't see any whale sharks this time. We saw many hammerheads, but no more than we did previously. Also, the visibility was no better, and we didn't see any manta. Therefore, we didn't experience any of the "benefits" of the "warmer-wetter season."

The water at Darwin and Wolf was 78F but it was 58-61 at the southern islands. A 7 mm was more than enough at Darwin/Wolf, but even with a 5/3 hooded vest under a 7, anything below 61F was barely tolerable for my old, lean body. After about 30 minutes, my core temperature would drop rapidly and my air consumption would increase significantly as I'd start to shiver so 40 minutes was about all we could take. My fingers and toes would just start to get warm when it was time for the next dive.

It was turtle breeding season so we saw between 5 and 20 green turtles on every dive. We saw hammerheads, Galapagos sharks, black tips, white tips, tuna, eagle rays (up to 9 in formation), sting rays, mobula rays, golden rays, and rays that I've never seen before and can't name. We also saw the ruby lipped batfish, sea horses, a frog fish, mola mola, dolphins, and many sea lions. The only things we didn't see were whale sharks and silkies. Silkies hung out along side the boat, but we didn't see any underwater.

The Galapagos Master was clean and functional, but perhaps a bit basic. The layout is good, but the dive deck is a bit cramped. The 14 guests (of a possible 16) were divided into two groups, and we rarely saw each other underwater. We didn't see divers from other boats underwater either, and only only saw one or two other boats moored in our vicinity (most of the time, it was only us).

Our last dive was at Cousins Rock. It was one of our best dives (frog fish, sea horses, eagle rays, sea lions, mobula rays, sting rays, white tips) and everyone wished that we could have done more dives there.

We had not seen iguanas underwater on our prior trips so seeing them this trip was great. We also had much better mola mola encounters. We saw 1 or 2 on each dive at Punta Vicente Roca, but the visibility is in the 25' range and the water is cold! I was only able to get grainy photos of them.

Despite Ecuador requiring everyone to show a negative PCR test and proof of being vaccinated, several guest got sore throats within a couple of days of boarding. One guest said he had the "worst sore throat of his life" and was unable to dive. He brought a covid test kit and tested positive. He volunteered to self quarantine for the rest of the trip. No one else got tested. Afterwards, all the US passengers were required to test negative before being allowed to return home (the Europeans - half the guests - weren't required to be tested to return home). 4 out of 7 Americans tested positive and were forced to quarantine in Quito. Fortunately they all tested negative after 6 days and were finally able to return home. We were also fortunate that we didn't have to miss any dives (except for the poor guy who self-quarantined) and that no one had any serious or lingering symptoms. Since everyone flew a US domestic flight before boarding their flight to Ecuador, we suspect that one of us caught covid on a US domestic flight where neither proof of vaccination nor a negative test result is required.
Websites Galapagos Master   

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience Over 1000 dives
Where else diving Caymans, Turks & Caicos, Bay Islands, Bahamas, Fiji, Saba, Maldives, California, Revillagigedo, Cozumel, Midway, Kona, Galapagos, Panama, Palau, Tahiti, Cocos, Malpelo, Tonga, PNG, Komodo, Sulawesi, Holbox, Solomon Islands, Belize, Komodo, Raja Ampat, Wakitobi, Alor, Marquesas, GBR
Closest Airport Quito Getting There Overnight in Quito or Guayaquil then to Galapagos

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, dry Seas calm
Water Temp 58-78°F / 14-26°C Wetsuit Thickness 7
Water Visibility 25-50 Ft/ 8-15 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile no
Enforced diving restrictions The dive Masters were very strict about staying in your group and with a guide. Dives were limited to 50 minutes.
Liveaboard? yes Nitrox Available? yes

What I Saw

Sharks Lots Mantas None
Dolphins Schools Whale Sharks None
Turtles > 2 Whales None
Corals N/A Tropical Fish 4 stars
Small Critters N/A Large Fish 4 stars
Large Pelagics 4 stars

Underwater Photography 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Subject Matter 5 stars Boat Facilities 4 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 4 stars Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments There was lots to photograph, but the low viz, appreciable currents, and shy animals made it challenging.
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Subscriber's Comments

By Ellen Marie Smith in MN, US at Apr 01, 2022 13:23 EST  
Hi - glad you had a great trip despite COVID. Did you book thru and agency or directly with Galapagos Master? Thank you.
By report author: David Marchese in PA, US at Apr 03, 2022 12:31 EST  
Hi, We booked through Equator Diving: equatordiving.com We've used them for our last 10 or so trips. They treat us well.
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Note: The information here was reported by the author above, but has NOT been reviewed nor edited by Undercurrent prior to posting on our website. Please report any major problems by writing to us and referencing the report number above.

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