Answers to Some Questions We Get Asked Every Day!
COVID changes – Is Galapagos Open?
The Galapagos islands are OPEN!! Regular flights will commence in August with Latam & Avianca. To start with Latam will fly to Blatra 2 times per week and Avianca will fly to Baltra 2 Sundays per month, and San Cristobal 2 Sundays per month.
Hopefully with increased demand for flights over the coming months we will see an increase in flights too.
Please see our blog post for all entry requirements to Ecuador and Galapagos.
COVID changes – What is Academy Bay Diving doing to keep you safe?
Academy Bay Diving – COVID Safety Protocol
GUEST SOCIAL ETIQUETTES
• Social distancing of at least 6ft/2 m where possible (other than travelling companions)
• Masks to be worn where 6ft/2m social distancing cannot be acheived
• Encourage hand cleaning with soap and wáter or hand sanitizer frequently
SANITISING OF SURFACES
• All high touch surfaces in the dive center and on the dive boat, in communal guest áreas and bathrooms will be disinfected/ sanitised before guest arrival and during the dives, or twice per day
• All food will be prepared following safety protocols from the appropriate authorities. All cups & cutlery will be washed and santised before use.
SANITISING/ CLEANING OF DIVE EQUIPMENT
• Each diver will be given equipment according to a number system. This equipment will be used by the same diver for the entirity of their dive experience with us.
• All equipment will be washed/ rinsed with a anti bacterial solution approved by local authorities.
• Mouth pieces on our regulators will NOT be changed for each passenger, but the regulators and mouth pieces will be washed with an anti bacterial solution and stored in clean/dry áreas. If customers would like their own mouthjpiece for the regulator they will need to bring their own. Our crew will be more than happy to help them change the mouthpiece before dives.
• Masks and snorkels that are shared during the tour will be washed in an anti bacterial solution after each use.
• Multiple hand sanitiser stations with gel/alcohol will be available in the dive center and on the dive boat
• Installtions of signs to encourage hand washing
• Recommended guests bring their own refillabale wáter bottles, masks/snorkels and regulators
• Monitor employees health daily, including taking temperature and watch for signs and symptons of Covid-19
• If possible, have guests tested for Covid-19 prior to arrival
• We will not allow any guest and their travelling companions to join our tour if they exhibit any Covid-19 symptoms at time of travel
• We will not allow any employee to come to work if they have Covid-19, exhibit any symptoms or have been exposed to someone with Covid in the past 14 days
• Crew, guides and other employees will wear masks while in close contact with guests
• Guests to sign online Waivers before arrival to reduce contact in the dive center
These protocols are for Academy Bay Diving dive center and dive boat and may be changed and/or altered at any time. We will also adhere to any protocols established by the Galapagos National Park, the Ecuadorian Ministry of Tourism/Health/Labor and any other authority our business and guests fall under
Are there any changes to group sizes in response to COVID-19?
Our trips are based on small group adventures and as a result carry less inherent risk of COVID-19. We will follow local government guidance on permitted group sizes, but you will never be in a group larger than 16 people.
Will I have to wear a mask during the tours in Galapagos?
In Ecuador and Galapagos the use of face masks is obligatory, including during tours. Wearing a face mask provides an additional physical barrier and helps to reduce community transmission of COVID-19.
All of our guides and crew will wear masks.
We advise you to contact your airline as well as check the foreign travel advice for updates or changes to restrictions regarding wearing during travelling as you will need to bring your own supply from home to cover the duration of your travels. While our leaders carry masks as part of their first aid kits, we are unable to provide masks for daily use for travellers.
Do I need to bring my own hand sanitiser?
We are working with our local partners to provide hand sanitiser at accommodations, on transport and at restaurants. It will also be available on all dive tours. We recommend also bringing your own personal supply for times when it is not available, such as when exploring a destination independently.
How will you manage physical distancing on the trips?
We recommend and practice physical distancing of 1.5meters when possibly during all trips. We understand that maintaining physical distancing at all times between group members when on a trip would be difficult and impractical. We put emphasis on COVID-19 protocols such as enhanced hygiene and sanitation to help reduce the risk of group tours.
What happens if there is a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19 on my trip?
If you or someone else on any of your tours has symptoms of COVID-19 while travelling with us we will assist you to access appropriate medical care as quickly as possible. We will follow the advice of local health authorities on whether a COVID-19 test is required, whether there is a need to self-isolate or quarantine or whether there is a risk to other travellers on the tours. We will help contact family and friends if needed as well as support with translation services at hospitals or medical centres and in contacting insurance companies, travel agents and airlines to make arrangements to return home if required.
Should COVID-19 be confirmed, our full health and safety protocols will be enacted, including informing local health authorities, informing other travellers of the potential exposure, and sanitation protocols such as deep cleaning and disinfecting of accommodation and transport.
Please note that while we will assist to ensure that you get all the help and support you need, any expenses for testing, treatment or self-isolation will need to be covered by you and your travel insurer, so please ensure you have access to funds while travelling in case of this or other emergencies.
Will insurance cover me for COVID-19?
The travel insurance industry is currently still working out its response to the COVID-19 pandemic and some providers are now starting to include COVID-19 cover in their policies. Please check with your individual provider for more information.
How do I get from the airport to town?
When you arrive in San Cristobal the transfer to Puerto Baquerizo Moreno (the town) is very simple. Many taxis are available and it will take you about USD 5 to get to your destination. The transfer from Baltra to Santa Cruz Island and then Puerto Ayora can be a little more complicated.
Most tour operators organize transportation but if you need to get from Baltra to Puerto Ayora there are some steps you will need to take.
Find a bus with the sign “Canal”. This bus is $5 – the tickets can be bought in a booth along the wall to the right after you collect your bags and depart the arrivals section. The bus will take you to the Itabaca Channel.
Do not take a bus with the sign Muelle, this bus will take you to the dock where live-aboards and naturalist cruises dock. If you are enrolled in one of those, look for a representative of your tour company. They will be there at arrivals to meet you.
The bus ride to the Baltra side of “Canal de Itabaca” takes about 10 minutes. Once there you will have to board a ferry . The ferries take the luggage on top, but the baggage handlers will transfer your bag from the bus to the ferry. Take your hand luggage or delicate items with you. Crossing the Itabaca Channel is quite short and has a cost of $1
Once on the Santa Cruz side of the Itabaca Channel you will have two options for the 40 kilometer drive to Puerto Ayora. Buses and taxis are available. Buses are definitely slower but charge approx USD 5 for the transfer. Taxis are faster but a private one will charge about USD 25. Taxis take up to four people, so make some friends on the plane or at the airport and you can Split the fare! If you arrive by taxi to Puerto Ayora, the drives will require a drop off place. Make sure you know your accommodation’s name or location. If arriving by bus you will find the last stop is close to the pier. You can orient yourself from there or take a taxi (USD 1.50) to the place where you will be staying.
The return trip is very much the same.
Day tours or Cruises? Which will I do?
This question is asked of us numerous times a week by people arriving to Galapagos not knowing if they should spend their savings on an 8 day cruise or take the more economical option to stay on the islands and take day tours.
Having done both, I can say that, though they are different experiences, both options have a lot to offer. (Especially if you don’t do too well on boats!)
The cruise boats will take you to islands not able to be visited in one day tours, and they take you to different and often more exclusive sites than those of some of the daily tours. Having said that, some of the daily tours are exactly the same as the day on the cruise. Typically you will visit 2 land sites and 2 snorkel sites per day, and have all your meals catered and generally be with the same guide (and same group of people, for better or for worse!) for the whole trip. Day tours on the other hand are done by 5pm, you can go back to your hotel, stroll around the town, take dinner where ever you like and still have seen an amazing amount of flora and fauna. Due to time constraints of transport to and from the islands, the daily tours offer 1 land site and 1 snorkel site for the day. So it all depends on your budget, how much you like boats and how much you like to gamble (on the other 15 passengers who will be on your boat!)
Can I take a day diving tour to Wolf and Darwin?
No, to reach Wolf and Darwin you need to take an 8 day dive cruise. These cruises require divers to have at least 50 dive experience due to the strong currents and deep dives.
What is the water temperature in Galapagos?
The Galapagos “garua” season (from June to December) has the coldest water temperatures and the “wet” season (from December to June) has the warmest. On the other hand, the water temperature in the archipelago varies with the different ocean currents that influence the Galapagos Islands.
Surface temperature usually stays at 18 – 25 Celsius (64 – 77 Fahrenheit) all year round. In contrast, temperatures at depth can reach 13 Celsius (56 Fahrenheit) in thermoclines or in colder parts of the Galapagos archipelago. Thermoclines in the Galapagos usually occur between 12 – 18 meters (40 – 60 feet). Thermoclines also affect visibility
How are the currents in Galapagos?
Probably the most challenging condition for diving the Galapagos is current. The currents are often too strong to swim against reaching up to 4 knots in strong conditions. The strength and even direction of current changes with depth and time; often very different conditions can be found at the same dive site from one dive to another. Whirlpools, eddies and localized down (or up) currents can be found in different parts of the archipelago. The influence of up and down currents can often be hard to control by novice divers, though there are certain áreas of most sites where experienced guides can take novice divers to aviod the strongest currents.
How is the visibilty in Galapagos?
Although there can be 30 meter (100 feet) visibility in the Galapagos Islands, the more common visibility conditions are between 10 – 20 meters (30 – 70 feet).
Visibility is very dependent on the amount of plankton in the water. For this reason, the colder months of the year have poorer visibility than the warmer months. In exchange, more plankton in the water means more activity.
Can I fly out the day after diving?
The recommend no fly time for 2 recreational dives is 18 hours. Our dive trips depart at 7am, so you are normally out of the water from the 2nd dive at approx. 12.30pm.
As most flights out of Galapagos depart after 10am you should not have any problems flying the following day.
Is there a Recompression Chamber in Galapagos?
Membership to Divers Alert Network (DAN) is highly recommended. A modern recompression chamber is available and functions as a DAN referral center. In addition, travel insurance is also highly recommended.
It is easy to get money in Galapagos?
The legal currency is US Dollars and no other currencies are accepted in regular businesses. International card ATM machines are available in Puerto Baquerizo Moreno (San Cristobal) and Puerto Ayora (Santa Cruz). There is one ATM machine at the Baltra airport (serves Santra Cruz), but it is out of order frequently. There is also a new ATM on Isla Isabela, but I would reserve that for emergencies and not rely on it functioning! Travellers cheques are generally not accepted. Many restaurants, boutiques & agencies accept credit card, Visa & Mastercard, with some taking Diners or American Express, and most have a minimum 6 – 9% surcharge to use the service.
What is the best time of year to go on a dive liveaboard in Galapagos?
There are two seasons.
January to May is the “warm” or “rainy” season. We call it the Panama season. The climate is tropical due to the Panama, El Niño current. These warm waters bring in usually calm oceans with very favorable surface and underwater conditions.
This is a great season for beginner divers who want to dive Galapagos, technical diving expeditions and diving with Manta Rays. The water productivity in Galapagos is generally poor during this time of the year (poor meaning less productive in terms of plankton and up-welling). The reduced amount of nutrients make finding big animals such as whale sharks less likely. In addition, the “milder” currents make it less likely for hammerhead sharks to school in great numbers. Nonetheless, diving is still superb quality during the Panama Season.
During the Panama season, water temperatures average 24-28°C. Sharp thermoclines can be encountered. Usually the thermocline depth will determine the depth at which the best activity can be found underwater . The average daily air temperature is 25 – 28°C. Weather during this time of year consists of cloudy charged skies and almost daily rain followed by a burning sun, then charged skies followed by rain, followed by burning sun etc….
June to November is the “cold” or “misty” season. We call it the Humboldt season due to the influence from the cold Humboldt Current coming up north from Antarctica. When the deep ocean water runs colder, it carries nutrients and plankton and creates an up-welling when it reaches the Galapagos Islands. As a result, waters are colder and marine mega fauna is more frequent. This is the prime season for whale sharks and also the most favorable conditions for hammerhead sharks schooling in greater numbers.
During the Humboldt season, water temperatures average 19-23°C with less noticeable thermoclines. The average daily air temperature ranges from 21-24°C. Usually gray skies and “garua” (spanish for misty) are encountered. Clear skies are also common in some areas of the archipelago.
Can I go shore diving on my own in Galapagos?
No. Diving is strictly regulated by the Galapagos National Park and is allowed only in specifically defined areas of the Galapagos Marine Reserve. As part of the regulation, divers must be accompanied by a certified Galapagos Marine Reserve Dive Master Guide. All of the diving happens in off-shore areas and a properly licensed boat is needed at all times.
Can non divers accompany me on the dive trips?
No, we prefer not to take non divers on the dive boat for snorkelling. Most of the time they would be the only one snorkelling, most people don’t like snorkelling in deep water, and many times non divers get quite seasick waiting for the divers to surface.
What are the fees I will pay to enter Galapagos?
The first is the transit card that you will need to pay in Quito or Guayaquil at the airport before checking in. The cost for 2021 is $20. You can register online for a pre check in by following this link
Most of the time this link does not work, you can also register at the airport with no problems.
Once you arrive to the Galapagos airport you will be required to pay the National Park entrance fee – IN CASH – is it $100 per person for 2021/22, but there are rumours that it will increase.