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Dive Review of Peter Hughes/Sky Dancer in
Galapagos Islands/Central and Northern Islands

Peter Hughes/Sky Dancer, May, 2008,

by Dave Hayden, Kent, UK (Reviewer Reviewer 3 reports). Report 4103.

No photos available at this time

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

Accommodations 3 stars Food 4 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity N/A
Dive Operation 3 stars Shore Diving 1 stars
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ N/A
Beginners 3 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments When we arrived at Darwin Island, 2 hours north of Wolf, I couldn’t wait to get down there. We’d already seen Manta Rays breaching clear of the water as well as dolphins.

The pangas took us close to the famous arch, we made our rapid descent to the viewing ledge where we clouds of Jacks, Travelly and Bonito. There were numerous turtles,white tips and Moray eels. There were tropical fish everywhere. There were a few small groups of Hammerheads drifting by in the current, one or two made close passes above our group. Suddenly I heard the bell of the other dive leader ringing frantically up current from us. I looked up and saw the huge sweeping tail of a Whale Shark. I remember itching to make a swim for it, but our guide, Glenda, urged calm and to wait. She knew there was no way we would swim against this current to get there in time for any meaningful encounter with this Mr Big. I could only sit and observe from afar as the other group were treated to a brief close encounter with Mr Big. I initially felt frustrated this opportunity had passed me by, but that quickly passed and I was pleased to have seen it briefly from a distance. It wasn’t the season yet so we were very lucky. After a period of eyes sharp into the Blue in hope of another sighting, the guides indicated we move away from the ledge. We were drifting for a short when we were visited by 3 Silky sharks. These were inquisitive animals, even sneaky as one would take your attention as the others would rapidly approach from behind. In one heart stopping moment one of our female divers was actually bumped by one shark. Shortly after this heard the bell ringing again, this time Glenda was off like a torpedo. We all followed quickly and soon were in the middle of a huge school of Eagle Rays. They were passing all around us, 30 or 40 of them, their beautiful body markings and graceful manor such a beautiful site and definitely one of the highlights of the entire trip. The bell rang again, this time frantically; we all looked into the haze and saw an enormous shadow. The guide was at full throttle, I was in close pursuit and then there it was. A whale shark, not a monster by their own standards but wow what an incredible animal. Although the animal was slowly swimming and didn’t seem to mind us being there at all, I was breathing a lot of air tying to keep up. I’d taken some video and photo’s so moved away to let others have their turn. That’s when the shark turned around and came back, heading straight for me. It passed us again and again and again. No-one pestered the animal and it seemed happy to be with us. Even interested in what we were doing down there?

Finally it left us and we had to make our safety stop, again we were surrounded by a large pod of Dolphins. This was an unbelievable dive, definitely my favourite ever. I don’t know how it could ever be topped. I had fulfilled a lifetime ambition to see a whale shark and it superseded my hopes and expectations. The rest of the diving at Darwin was equally as fantastic, although for me personally it couldn’t possibly match that 1st dive. There were lots of Hammerheads, schools of Yellow fin Tuna, Turtles and Rays. There was something that the entire group rated as “Amazing” on every dive. At the end of the trip some of the guys said Darwin was their favourite location because they’d seen things they’d never seen before. Others preferred Wolf because of the sheer numbers of hammerheads and Pelagics plus whilst we were there the visibility was slightly better. I personally preferred Darwin because of that 1st Dive. For me it was a life experience that I’ll never forget.

When booking a dive trip to the Galapagos, much is made of what month or season to travel in. Summer or Winter, Whale Shark Season or Palegic Season. I could find very little information on conditions and what to expect during the in between or change over month of May. I would say that for me May was a great month to choose. You had the benefit of the Palegic animals still being around.Although perhaps not quite in the numbers of other times of year, they are still there in abundance. The only problem was the visibility quality was decreasing, meaning they were sometimes difficult to find or to see unless you were reasonably close. But it was never what I’d call “Bad” visibility or under 10 meters. The plus side of this is, as the visibility gets worse, the chances of seeing Whale Sharks increases. Again perhaps not in the same numbers as at other times of year when 7 or 8 in one dive is common but none the less the chances of sightings is increased. So I would say instead of sacrificing to visit at peak times of the season, for a good chance to see every animal on your check list, May is a great month to visit. On top of this the weather is great in May. Sunny most days but not too humid. The water temperature is also great. I used a 5mm full suit with hood and a 2mm skin underneath but I found this too much even in the central islands. In the Northern Islands I ditched the vest of the undersuit and the hood. Peter Hughes Sky Dancer was a great boat with all modern amenities. 32% Nitrox was used by everyone and I would say was essential.The crew were fantastic,their enthusiasm to help and take care of the little details ensured a great trip.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 51-100 dives
Where else diving Sipidan, Australia, Zanzibar, Cyprus
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, dry Seas choppy, surge
Water Temp 0-0°F / -18--18°C Wetsuit Thickness 0
Water Visibility 0-0 Ft/ 0-0 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile ?
Enforced diving restrictions See report 1
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

Sharks Lots Mantas 1 or 2
Dolphins Schools Whale Sharks > 2
Turtles > 2 Whales None
Corals 3 stars Tropical Fish 3 stars
Small Critters 3 stars Large Fish 3 stars
Large Pelagics 5 stars

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

Subject Matter N/A Boat Facilities N/A
Overall rating for UWP's N/A Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments see report 1
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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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