A few years ago, I was fortunate to visit the Galapagos Island with my husband and 10 of our closest scuba diving friends. The purpose of the trip was to scuba dive in the wilds of The Galapagos Islands, Ecuador and to experience the diversity of these islands. For one week we would make the Sky Dancer liveaboard yacht our home away from.
Little did we know that in the course of that one week, we would cross the equator 4 times and experience more adrenaline rushing excitement than we believed was possible in a lifetime. Our itinerary included top-side visits to the islands the islands of Isabela, Fernandina and Santa Cruz in order to observe the Galapagos Tortoise, fur seals, sea lions and marine iguanas. We were also treated to visits to the furthest most islands of Wolf and Darwin to scuba dive the waters surrounding these mystical islands.
When preparing for the trip, we were told we should expect to experience some current, colder waters and would most likely see hammerhead sharks during some of our dives. We honestly expected we would see a shark (aka one or two), but we didn’t have a clue what was actually awaiting us.
Although our home base was the yacht, our diving was done solely from a rubber dinghy. I can say without exaggeration that you haven’t lived until you have done a back-roll into the Pacific Ocean from a tiny Zodiac, 600 miles off the coast of Ecuador, 137 miles from the closest inhabited island in the Galapagos Archipelago.
We were instructed by our dive masters to descend as soon as we hit the water, as the water will be moving fast and we could easily be swept onto the neighboring rocks surrounding Darwin’s Arch.
- My first thought – “Are you kidding me?”
- Second thought – “Get me off of this Zodiac.”
- Third and Final Thought – “Stop telling me these things and let’s just get it over with.”
As we hit the water, the rush of cold water swirls into my wetsuit, but knowing I don’t have time to complain about it, I dump all of my air from the BCD and begin to kick away from the surface. As I look back, I can see the pounding surge of Darwin’s Arch from below in the distance and the slower divers getting tossed around. I don’t have time to think too long about what’s happening above me or what is waiting for me below. Before I can slow my breathing and collect myself, I’m being pushed along from behind by an unknown force – the current.
What at first is a gentle push, soon turns into a ripping current and I am flying horizontally through the water column like Superman. I give my husband, the “holy cow” look and then the universal “o.k.” signal and we are off, soaring through the water. Yes, I even stuck my arms out in true Superman fashion just to see how it felt.
I’m just beginning to get used to this new sensation, when my husband grabs me by the fin and gives me a hard yank. As I turn around to give him the “evil-eye”, he is pointing and flailing wildly. I look in the direction he is pointing and within 25 feet of us, there are three hammerhead sharks cruising along beside us.
Natural survival instincts take over and I start thinking “Oh boy, I need to get out of the water NOW. Where are all of my friends? There is supposed to be safety in numbers. Where are they? Can I swim faster than my husband? That’s all that really matters, right – sharks go for the weaker species?” Survival of the fittest – wasn’t that Darwin’s theory?
Yes, I was thinking all of those thoughts and apparently I wasn’t the only one that’s a terrible person, because suddenly my husband gives me a little shove so that he can get behind me. Seriously? I couldn’t believe he was thinking the same thing as I was!
It soon became apparent that the sharks were actually quite disinterested in our being there. Once we realized we weren’t going to perish and the sharks weren’t coming after us, we relaxed and enjoyed the rest of our dive.
That one dive, would be the start of many more shark encounters that week and in fact, for the most part, seeing two or three sharks were rare. On most occasions, we would observe them schooling in the hundreds and although we managed to become at ease with the presence of the sharks, we didn’t completely let our guard down. We learned to keep one eye on the sharks and one eye on each other at all times.
If you’re looking for thrills beyond your wildest dreams, the Galapagos Islands are for you. Both topside and underwater adventures will yield once in a lifetime experiences and memories.
When planning a trip abroad, take the time to read blogs and social media posts about your destinations. This is important if you are traveling to a nearby country or planning your turkey holidays. You’ll enjoy your trip more and save money.