Diving in the Galapagos with Ridlon and Carin exceeded all expectations.

We knew it would be wonderful, since we have traveled many times with Global Diving Adventures, but were blown away by the density and abundance of sea life in the Pacific.

Ridlon is an excellent guide, and was careful to point out to members of our group that Ruben (El Toro Grande) was NOT to be confused with the whale shark (El Gran Senor)

. We are lucky he and Carin still let us dive with them, since El Toro Grande always runs out of air before everyone else. This is not to mention Marilyn's perpetual mask problems and psychic meltdown during the first Galapagos dive.

In truth, Ridlon and Carin are the only people we were willing to trust with our children when they first learned to dive, years ago in Bonaire. We always have a blast with GDA, both in the water and above.
— Ruben and Marilyn Lemos, Founding Members since 2002.

Resorts/Yachts/Dive Ops

Our Favorite Galapagos Yacht – The MV Sky

Without a doubt, The Galapagos Islands are a world of their own. 600 miles off the west coast of Ecuador these young islands are still a hotbed of volcanic activity and home to some of the most unique creatures on the planet. The abundance of endemic life on the islands and in the water make Galapagos a place to treasure and to save.

While there are a few hotels on the main islands, you would be severely hampered to get to much of the good scuba diving by diving Galapagos land based. Pretty much only the hard core backpacker type with very little resources would attempt to dive the Galapagos Islands this way. If you want to see the prolific endemism and especially the schooling hammerheads and whale sharks, you will want to book a live aboard dive boat or plan a guided adventure with us. So this “resort” review is actually a review on the dive boat, The Sky.

From www.divencounters.com

In 1835, Charles Darwin visited the Galapagos Islands (Archipelago) and commented: “The natural history of this archipelago is very remarkable, it seems to be a little world within itself.”

Little has changed since 1835 the Galapagos Islands are still one of the most beautiful and unusual places on earth except that Darwin never got to see the amazing marine life underwater!
Whale sharks, graceful rays of every description (giant manta, mobula, golden, spotted eagle, and marble, just to name a few), giant schools of fish gracefully providing circular tunnels of ingress and egress that’s just the beginning of the thrill of Galapagos diving.
The Galapagos islands are among the most remote on earth 605 miles from mainland Ecuador contributing not only to Darwin’s theory of evolution but providing, over the years a natural haven for marine life to thrive.
15 main islands and countless smaller ones dot the archipelago providing plentiful shallow water habitats. With deeper water just offshore and with the archipelago washed by 3 major oceanic currents this combination is a dream prescription for underwater paradise.

Overall Feel of The Sky live aboard

*A special note about The Sky. There is probably a great deal of confusion over The Sky and the Sky Dancer and the Dancer Fleet and Peter Hughes. Basically what happened is that Peter Hughes sold the Dancer name so no longer carries his name. Most of the boats were franchised. Peter then joined forces with Santiago Dunn, the owner of the Sky Dancer and formed a new company, Dive Encounters. Peter Hughes is now the President of this company which owners the former Sky Dancer, now called just The Sky.

The Sky has similar look and feel to the rest of the Dancer fleet. She is 100 feet long with a beam of 26 ft. She comfortably holds 16 divers.

Dive Boat Spec Highlights

  1. 100 feet long
  2. 26 feet wide
  3. 8 staterooms, 4 doubles down below and 4 queens above
  4. Nitrox included in price
  5. Full rental gear available
  6. Camera/housing available for rent
  7. Video services available

The Live Aboard Experience in Galapagos

Diving in the Galapagos is unique because of the incredible animal life both above and below the water. Restrictions on live aboard dive boats have lessened this amazing experience recently. The dive boats are now restricted to the number of land visits they can make and the number of days on each itinerary. In the past we were able to offer complete custom trips of ten days with many land visits and diving throughout the archipelago.

This pendulum may be swinging back again by 2012 so I plan to wait a couple of years and see what happens. However, rates are still climbing for these vessels and expect to pay $5000 for your live aboard experience by 2012.

With that said, in my opinion, Galapagos is one of the most special places on earth. The northern islands of Wolf and Darwin allow for close up encounters with 35’ female whale sharks during the months of June-November and large schools of hammerhead sharks that will blow you away! The shoals of eagle rays at Wolf island are phenomenal and with patience you can have very close encounters.

North Seymour island supplies a smorgasbord of everything as the current sweeps you down the rocky reef. Large groups of whitetip sharks, eagle and manta rays, turtles and sea lions are all on parade!

The sheer endemism of Galapagos makes it a must do for anyone interested in wildlife. The bird life is incredible and walking among the sea lions is unforgettable. I even witnessed a sea lion birth on one trip!

Ah….but it’s easy to write and write and write about the wildlife. Let’s get back to the boat.

The Boat

The Sky is a very comfortable boat though I would not put it in the luxury class. It serves its purpose well. None of the cabins are super large but truly you need so very little on a live aboard. In fact, after packing all the dive gear, I just stuff in a couple of pairs of shorts and t-shirts and I always come home with clothes I didn’t wear.

The four cabins on the lower deck (Lido) all have two single beds and portholes. The four cabins on the upper deck (Dolphin) all have a queen bed and full window.

The main salon has booth style seating for 16 passengers which also doubles as a seating area for downloading photos on laptops etc…. There is also a small area for relaxing, watching movies and socializing.

The dive deck is well set up for 16 divers with a large camera table and plenty of space for chargers etc…

The sundeck is probably the most well used place on board. It’s a great place to warm up after the dives and just hang out and watch the scenery go by!

The Operation

As I mentioned above, with all the restrictions now placed on live aboard dive boats, it’s difficult to do anything truly new and exceptional on an itinerary at the moment but what I love about The Sky is the crew. I have been on this boat six times and I have loved the attention from the crew. They are outstanding. After a cold dive, they are there with a towel and hot chocolate. They are the only crew I’ve ever met that actually will help you get out of that thick wetsuit after the dive! Everything goes like clockwork with this well oiled group of young men from the Captain on down to the cabin steward.

Diving is done from pangas (zodiac style boats) with a back roll entry. The panga drivers are amazing at knowing just where to drop you depending on the daily current. They are expert bubble followers and are never far away when you surface. I feel very very safe with this operation.

The Food

The Sky could do a bit better with the food as the meals are somewhat redundant. However, it is plentiful and warm when you get back from a chilly, exciting dive. And the snacks between the dives rock!

Overall

In the beginning of the live aboard dive boat era, Peter Hughes truly had the most upscale boats in the world. However, with more and more full on luxury dive yachts coming on line, boats like the Sky will need to refit and upgrade to keep up. But I think she still has a few more years in her and is the best thing going to get to the whale sharks and hammerheads of Galapagos.

Request a Free Quote or Make a Reservation

Interested in traveling to Galapagos?  We are here to help by sharing our global expertise.  Create your own personalized diving adventure by requesting a risk free quote.  It’s easy and there’s no obligation.  Or, if you already know what you want, you can make a reservation.

Or, join us on a Guided Diving Adventure.

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