Galapagos Scuba Diving – North Seymour from Santa Cruz

Posted By Jeremy in South America

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Goofing off while diving in the GalapagosI booked the dive trip to North Seymour while Galapagos island hopping on a whim.  My original intent (and budget) was to only go diving at the famous Kicker Rock off the coast of San Cristobal at the end of our trip a few days later.  But when Angie and her friends started planning a second day trip from Santa Cruz that was not originally scheduled, my mind began to wander.

Did I really want to go on another expensive island tour, or would I rather spend $30 more to go diving?

I’d be lying if I didn’t say that was the easiest choice I had during our entire trip to the Galapagos.

Not My Choice Dive Site

Rocking the wet suit.

Although I heard Gordon’s Rocks is one of the best dives to do from Santa Cruz, my dive date was not well timed (nor was my skill level) and I missed out this time around.  Instead, North Seymour became my destination of choice due to the target Galapagos animals being sharks, rays, and, if we were lucky, a few hammerheads as well.

If I can’t go to the number one spot, well, the number two better have an opportunity for hammerheads too!

My fear about not diving for several years quickly subsided as there was only one other diver on our boat whom I instantly connected with.  Along with our guide and captain, two other great guys to be heading out with, we took the 25 minute drive to the port and sped off to the dive site.

A Few Minutes in Heaven

Just a few moments after jumping in the water I was back in my element and felt like I had dove just a week or two earlier.  But what I was not prepared for was the first glimpse at the sea bed as we were surrounded by an endless field of Galapagos garden eels!  These tiny creatures look like tiny snakes and pop out about 6-10 inches from holes in the ground.  As we approached they’d zip down into their hole and hide until we were safely away.

If that isn’t an indication of a unique dive, what happened next certainly confirmed it.

While still marveling over the garden eels, we heard the bell from our dive master who gave the hand signal I was hoping to get: two fists above the head.   The hammerheads have joined us.

Galapagos hammerheads off in the distance and garden eels below

They were quite a ways off, but a few turns of their massive frames clearly showed off the iconic head I was so anxious to see.

Bucket list item check number one.

Since the current is particularly strong at this site, we got to enjoy being carried with it and did not get to swim after the hammerheads like we all wanted to.  (Although, who am I kidding, we would never catch up to them anyway.)

Rounding a bend of rocks and coral, we spotted a baby eagle ray swimming nearby and watched it fly majestically in the water.

Bucket list item check number two.

A massive eagle ray in the Galapagos, also known as Mr Ray

But the baby ray wasn’t the only one waiting for us, because around the next corner was the parent- a massive eagle ray well over 4 feet in diameter flying by.   We were later informed by our dive master that this particular one was “medium” and they can end up being far larger.

The first dive surely did not disappoint, as this was all within the first 15 minutes.

Hammerhead silhouettes from the surface in the Galapagos

Although the remainder of the dive did not have as many exciting encounters, except for a hammerhead silhouette view from the surface, we were able to cross off many more items from our Galapagos island travel list including the Galapagos sharks, puffers, and numerous other local species of fish.  Not a bad first dive!

Dive Number Two Brings a Flock of Sharks

Massive puffers in the Galapagos

The second dive at North Seymour was another planned drift dive with an exceptionally strong current that I was not expecting.  We dove down and let the current do its magic as we zoomed by many reef sharks, puffer fish, and other local species just as in the previous dive.

Eerie reef sharks in the Galapagos

Towards the end we came upon a reef that looked like something out of a movie.  16-20 white-tipped reef sharks were circling a very large rock in the incredibly eerie motions you come to expect from them.

We inched closer. They didn’t flinch.

Closer still.  No response.

The sharks got incredibly close!

By the time we reached the base of the rock the sharks acted like we were not there at all, and some even got so close that we could see the whites and movement of their eyes.  Not even kidding!

Nearly 20 reef sharks swimming in circles is enough to take your breath away as it is truly a sight to behold.  Unlike the other encounters of the day these sharks were not leaving; however, our air tanks did not last forever and it was time to let go.

Yours truly and the reef sharks of the Galapagos

I say let go in the literal sense, because the current was so strong at this particular point that we had to hold on for dear life (as was the case at Kicker Rock a few days later too).  Waving goodbye to our new friends, we let the current pull us to the end of the dive where we ascended and beamed from ear to ear for the rest of the trip back.

My diving addiction has been renewed.

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  1. Wow that sounds and looks super exciting! I only just got my open waters and will start my advanced this week on Koh Tao. While I have seen some baby reef sharks while snorkeling here before and loved it, I am still not sure if I can deal calmly with the parents though it looks stunning!

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    • It is great in the Galapagos. You don’t need to be afraid of the big ones, they’re harmless to humans!

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  2. Wow you were so close to those sharks! I think a lot of people might be afraid of that. It is incredible that they didn’t swim away from you or anything and you were able to get up so close!

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    • It is kind of funny you say that, because almost every dive shop owner I talked to there said it is pretty common for someone to freak out under water with the sharks. They made sure we weren’t going to do anything crazy underwater and were pretty relieved that we weren’t afraid!

      But you’re right, we got so incredibly close to the reef sharks. It was amazing! At Kicker Rock a few days later we got within 10-15 feet of hammerheads, but I didn’t get to take the camera there due to the depth. (The ones in this article were taken by our dive master and given to us for free, yay!)

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