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Galapagos Islands News
Scuba Diving in the Galapagos Islands
May 6th, 2011
The Galapagos Islands are world renowned as a SCUBA diving destination: people come from all over to see the turtles, whale sharks, hammerheads, colorful fish and other underwater marvels. Taking a land tour to see the islands themselves is a bonus that most divers enjoy as well. There has been a lot happening in the islands lately, however, that prospective visitors may need to know.
First the bad news: the combination dive/land tours are a thing of the past. As recently as last year, you could book a live-aboard boat tour that included several dives as well as visits to some of the more popular solid-ground visitor sites. The well-equipped boats had quality SCUBA gear, as well as trained divemasters for the sea and naturalist guides for the land tours. There were a handful of boats that offered these tours and they were very popular among divers who also wanted to see the giant tortoises, Darwin finches or other spectacular island wildlife.
Unfortunately, in response to the complaints of islanders that about the lack of sustainable local tourism, the Galapagos park service has decided that combination tours are no longer allowed. It's complicated, but the argument goes like this: by removing the combination boat tour, those interested in diving AND land tours will have to spend more time in the towns of Puerto Ayora or Puerto Baquerizo Moreno.
The locals benefit when tourists stay in town and spend money on hotels, restaurants, tours, etc. For example: a diver books a five-day dive trip but wants some land time, so rather than book another five-day boat tour he stays in town, takes a couple of day trips to other islands and then returns home. Several options for hotel based tours are available here.
The new plan should work out smashingly for the islanders. Unfortunately, what is best for the islanders is not always best for the tourists, who suddenly have fewer options and now must spend more time and money in the islands if they wish to dive as well as see the islands. Sadly, this is not the first time that the park service has put the interests of tourists last.
But that's the bad news. The good news is that there has never been a better time to dive in the Galapagos! The dive boats and land-based dive shops are staffed by professionals, feature sound rental equipment and offer reasonable rates. There are many dive shops to choose from, as well as some live-aboard trips for the more serious diver. Introduction dives, Photography courses, certification courses…they're all available.
Consistently named one of the top sites in the world by diving magazines and web sites, there are numerous outstanding spots to explore. If you head to the far-flung islands of Darwin and Wolf you may see whale sharks and hammerheads, and at any site you're guaranteed to see dazzling reef fish, eels, rays, sharks, sea turtles and more. Don't let a little bit of island politics get in the way of a visit to the stunning Galapagos underwater world! For more details on some Live Aboard options, please click here
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