Galapagos Rebreathers in DEMA 2014

Jorge A. Mahauad, managing director of Galapagos Rebreathers will be attending DEMA Show 2014. Come by booth 2133 to have a chat and learn about what we are doing to promote rebreather travel to the Galapagos Islands. To make an appointment call (239) 400 - 4581 or (239) 240 7595.


Besides my own rebreather, what else should I bring?

We recommended the following minimum spares and consumables:

  • Oxygen Sensors (2) 
  • Oxygen compatible grease
  • Any unit specific O-ring kit
  • Any unit specific tools
  • Mouthpiece

What is the electricity voltage in the boat? Which plug do I take with me?

The standard electrical power in the Galapagos is 110V, 60Hz. Most outlets take two flat-prong plugs. Other appliances and voltages will need appropriate adapters and converters.

I want to come dive with you, how do I go about making a booking?

A minimum of two CCR divers is required to open a rebreather friendly departure. Galapagos Rebreathers will then market the departure as rebreather oriented in order to increase the number of CCR team members to up to 08.

We have a data base of people interested and can pull together people with interest to plan a departure. Just send us a note.

What paperwork will I need to sign?

Insurance, Liability Releases:

All divers must carry dive accident insurance for the entire duration of the trip. Travel insurance is also recommended. Upon arrival, rebreather divers will be requested to fill in standard forms for diving liability release plus a special statement of understanding and liability release specific to rebreather diving. All boat releases and additional paperwork required to dive are also required.

What ios the required personal equipment?

  • At least one CE / ISO tested Rebreather sold by a manufacturing company. No homemade units.
  • DSMB and spool are mandatory for all divers.
  • Audible device
  • Bailout regulator or BOV
  • Dust and water caps for regulators, connections, etc.
  • Recommended minimum spares and consumables:
  • Oxygen Sensors (2) 
  • Oxygen compatible grease
  • Unit specific O-ring kit
  • Unit specific tools
  • Mouthpiece
  • Recommended Equipment:
  • One “Nautilus Lifeline” device per buddy team.

What are the rules and dive profileswe require for a CCR friendly your?

Profiles are limited to a bottom time of 60 minutes and an average depth of 20 meters to avoid decompression.

Standard diluent provided will be air and maximum recommended narcotic depth 30 meters.

No “solo buddy diving”. The group, as a whole, needs to remain together at all times. If separated from the group, individual divers or buddy teams need to immediately deploy diver surface markers and ascend using the line as a reference.

Divers have to remain within the Galapagos National Park Guide supervision.

For special technical diving with rebreathers contact us directly. We are happy to accommodate new things.

What makes a Rebreather friendly tour to the Galapagos? What's included?

For rebreather friendly trips Galapagos Rebreathers provides an expedition technician to operate boosters and deliver high pressure oxygen. Granular or pre-packed CO2 absorbent, on board steel 2 or 3 liter rebreather cylinders with in line style valves and 6 liter aluminum bailout cylinders with DIN convertible valves and stage / sidemount rigging are available for all rebreather divers. CCR technician also acts as escorting guide for the divers.

Price includes the following items:

  • Accommodation on double occupancy cabins on board M/Y Humboldt Explorer
  • Transportation to and from dive sites
  • All meals on board, coffee, tea and drinking water
  • Fuel Surcharge
  • Air diluent and bailout
  • Sofnolime 8-12 (1 - 2.5mm) CO2 absorbent or equivalent in pre-packed cartridges.
  • Two Open Circuit Galapagos Marine Reserve dive masters.
  • One Rebreather support technician for the entire duration of the trip.
  • High pressure (150+ bar) medical grade Oxygen provided from Haskell Booster Pump.
  • Rental of one set of 2 or 3 liter steel cylinders for on board gas with in line style valves
  • Rental of one 40cf / 5,7 liter bailout cylinder with DIN/Yoke 200 bar convertible valve
  • Stage or sidemount rigging for off board bailout system.
  • Additional costs not included in trip fee:
  • Nitrox Bailout
  • Tips and Gratuities
  • Special drinks
  • Round Trip air ticket to the Galapagos Islands
  • Migratory control card tax
  • Galapagos National Park entry fee
  • Personal expenses
  • Transfers and hotels in Ecuador mainland
  • Additional extensions in Galapagos

What is the current state of Rebreather Diving in the Galapagos?

Rebreathers are a new field in the Galapagos Islands and present a series of added challenges for tour operators and diving. A bubble less environment and strong currents make group diving a must. In addition, conditions like ascending or descending currents, heavier and bulkier equipment and closer encounters with marine wildlife represent added challenges.

The Tip Top dive and Training facility hosts Galapagos Rebreathers, a firm specialized in Rebreather diving in the Galapagos Islands.

Galapagos Rebreathers provides support and equipment for rebreather divers, organizes land based and live-aboard trips and offers training in many levels in the Galapagos Islands.

How are Safety Stops / Decompression performed in the Galapagos?

Safety stops are highly recommended in every dive. Stressing conditions, cold water and strenuous situations create higher potential of gas absorption. Safety stops are usually performed “in the blue” while drifting with the current.

Decompression diving is mainly undeveloped in the Galapagos Islands. Decompression stops are performed “in the blue” with the aid of diver surface marking buoys to help panga drivers follow the divers along their hangs.

 The Tip Top dive and Training facility offers several special gas mixtures for decompression diving in the Galapagos Islands.

How are the currents in the 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 at really 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 with just a surface interval in between.

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 hard to control by novice divers. Needless to say, their effects can also be significant in the overall course of a dive.
The Galapagos Islands are a great place to take the Drift Diver course and experience real life conditions.

For the rebreather diver a rig bulkier than the usual single cylinder kit, along with increased workload and drag created by currents can become substantial challenges. Ascending and descending currents often unperceivable with open circuit can also represent a source of additional task loading. In addition, strong surface currents and winds over a big open water area can make tracking bubble-less divers a more complex task.

What’s the water temperature for diving in the 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.

Is there surge while diving the Galapagos?

A shallow water feature, surges are common when current or swells are present. This is the reason why safety / deco stops are usually made on the blue, away from the rocks to avoid surge pushing divers towards the rocks. Surge will also make a diver recovery difficult for the tender boat.

What type of diving is there in the Galapagos? Is it mainly Drift Diving?

Due to the currents throughout the archipelago dives usually follow the flow of the current. Most of the diving in the Galapagos is drift diving. Usually divers will descend in a rapid but controlled manner and hold on to an insensitive feature on the bottom. Once in the bottom, rocks and other natural features serve as good hiding places from the current. There is where a lot of the wildlife as hides so it’s a natural place for observing it. Once ready to move, just think ahead of where you are going, work with the current and find another anchor point or hideaway.

What are the dive insurance requirements in the Galapagos? Is there a recompression chamber in the Islands?

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. Galapagos Tip Top Diving is a DAN World Business member and provides insurance. Contact us for details.

What about getting money in the Galapagos? Cash on board?

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 not ATM machine at the Baltra airport (serves Santra Cruz). Traveller cheques are accepted. International checks are usually not welcome.

Many restaurants and boutiques accept credit card, a minimum fee and a 6 – 9% surcharge could be required.

On boar a live-aboard boat you will generally need cash for surcharges, tips, etc.

What should I bring to the Galapagos? General packing list

Although we are in the tropical Equator and air temperature is usually warm, breezes at sea or during the night can cool you down. This is what we suggest you pack:

Shorts and T-shirts
Long sleeve lightweight shirts
Long pants
Light sweater or sweatshirt
Hat (back and neck protection)
Bathing suit
Water sandals
Trekking / Hiking shoes

Personal Equipment:
Dry bag / Backpack Sunglasses
SPF Sunscreen
Insect Repellent (high DEET)
Movement sickness medication
Personal prescriptions

Imaging Equipment:
Camera with plenty of film / storage
Battery charger
Underwater housing if possible

Is there Internet in the Galapagos?

There are several internet cafés in Santa Cruz, San Cristobal and Isabela. Email and social media can be easily reached from those. Some internet venues in the Galapagos also offer voice over IP calling services. There is also a free WIFI service available at hotspots near the docks or walkways, the service is provided by RedGal. Although connectivity is good overall and many restaurants and cafés also offer free WIFI overall internet connection speed is rather low.

Country code for Ecuador mainland is +593. The area code for the Galapagos Islands is 05 when calling from an Ecuadorian landline or cellphone. For calling the Galapagos from abroad the “0” is not needed, just dial “+5935” and the phone number. There are many payphones available in Puerto Ayora (Santa Cruz) and Puerto Baquerizo Moreno (San Cristobal). Phone access can be a little more difficult in Puerto Villamil (Isabela) and Puerto Velasco Ibarra (Floreana).

Puerto Ayora (Santa Cruz), Puerto Baquerizo Moreno (San Cristobal) and Puerto Villamil (Isabela) have postal service.

How’s the weather in the Galapagos?

There are two seasons in the Galapagos Islands. Seasons are completely related to marine currents and trade winds.

The “dry” or garua season runs from June to December and is primarily influenced by cold the Humboldt current coming from Antarctica through Argentina, Chile and Peru. August is usually the cooler month of the year. During the dry season water temperature is lower. Fog and mist are usual while the sea is generally rougher. The plankton rich environments created by the upwelling deep currents that collide with the Galapagos platform create a wealthy marine environment.

From late December to early June the Panamá and “El Niño” currents are more active and therefore the climate changes to the hot or wet season. March and April are usually the hottest months of the year. Daily afternoon showers, high humidity are common. Water is much warmer, clearer and calmer. As the islands turn green many of the land species thrive.

The Galapagos Islands are a year round world destination and every season offers different conditions.

What if I get sick while in Galapagos? Do I need any special vaccines?

Medical services and prescription drugs availability in the Galapagos Islands are minimal. Visitors to the Islands must bring enough of their own prescriptions. Most pharmacies do not stock branded prescriptions so the generic chemical name is needed.

The hospitals in Puerto Ayora and Puerto Baquerizo Moreno are not sophisticated at all and most illnesses and injuries need to be treated in the mainland; however, there are a few Doctors available most of the time and airlines provide flexibility to evacuate people needing medical attention.

Do I need special Insurance to come to Galapagos?

Check with your insurance company for coverage abroad and evacuation fees prior to traveling, evacuation from a non-inhabited part of the archipelago can be quite expensive. Travel insurance is highly recommended. For divers, dive accident insurance is required.

What if I forget to bring something to the Galapagos? Are there stores?

Las minute or forgotten items can be purchased at the local shops. Variety and availability can be limited and prices higher. Puerto Ayora (Santa Cruz Island) and Puerto Baquerizo Moreno (San Cristobal Island) have several clothing stores with a decent supply of items in the case of lost or delayed luggage.

There are no shops in live-aboard vessels and you must bring everything you need on board from land.

How do I get around in the Galapagos?

The best way to get around in the inhabited islands is by foot.

All the restaurants, hotels, bars and most of the beaches and tourist attractions are within walking distance. In Puerto Ayora (Santa Cruz), Puerto Baquerizo Moreno (San Cristobal) and Puerto Villamil (Isabela) several businesses offer bicycles for rent if you wish to get one. There are also taxis to take you to the more distant places. Rates are reasonable.

Tour operators usually include transportation in their packages to non-inhabited islands in the Galapagos National Park Preserve. Check the tourism section for more information on the tour modalities in the Galapagos Islands.

How do I move from one island to another in the Galapagos?

Inter-Island transportation in the Galapagos is done with outboard powered fiberglass boats. The transportation central is Puerto Ayora (Santa Cruz Island). From Puerto Ayora the “fibras” depart to San Cristobal, Isabela and Floreana on a daily basis with itineraries scheduled in advance.

There is also a little air carrier (EMETEBE) doing short flights in the islands but it operates on a very flexible schedule and spaces are often limited to 8 people. EMETEBE flies between Baltra, Isabela and San Cristobal.

What are my boat options for diving in Galapagos?

You have two main options: a Galapagos live-aboard or Land based diving.

Liveaboard cruises in the Galapagos Islands are similar to others in the world. A Galapagos live-aboard is a “hotel ship” which cruises the Galapagos under a fixed itinerary. The boats accommodate 16 divers on board and are allowed to perform live-aboard diving in the Galapagos Marine Reserve. Liveaboard vessels are not authorized to make any land visits but do allow access to distant places; this is a must when divers want to visit the world renowned and northern-most islands of Darwin and Wolf.

Land based diving using daily tour operators based in the inhabited islands can take divers out to the Marine Reserve and offer two tank days of diving. All daily tour guests have to sleep on a land based accommodation on an inhabited island such as a hotel or hostel; therefore you will have more flexibility in your activities. There is some remarkably good diving in the central islands as well.

What are my travel options in the Galapagos?

Tourism is the economic motor of the Galapagos Islands. There are several tourism modalities:

Naturalist Cruises:

Naturalist Cruises in the Galapagos Islands are “hotel ships” which cruise the Galapagos archipelago under a fixed itinerary. These boats can accommodate from 8 to 100 people on board and provide all the services within the vessel. Short day navigations to and from visit sites and overnight transits allow these autonomous cruises to access distant places of the Galapagos Marine Reserve. Naturalist cruises are not allowed to any Scuba Diving in the Galapagos Islands without the support of a land based diving operator but can accommodate snorkeling, kayaking and swimming as alternatives.

Live-Aboard Cruises:

Liveaboard cruises in the Galapagos Islands are also “hotel ships” which cruise the Galapagos under a fixed itinerary. The boats accommodate 16 divers on board and are allowed to perform live-aboard diving in the Galapagos Marine Reserve; on the other hand, liveaboard vessels are not authorized to make any land visits to the areas defined as Naturalist Cruise visitor sites by the Galapagos National Park Administration. Diving live-aboards allow access to distant places; this is a must when divers want to visit the world renowned and northern-most islands of Darwin and Wolf.

Daily tour:

Daily tour operators are land based in the inhabited islands, mainly in Santa Cruz, San Cristobal and Isabela. Galapagos daily tour operators offer a wide variety of trips to areas within the Galapagos National Park. Daily tour operators in the islands are specialized by the Galapagos National Park regulation. Naturalist daily trip operators are not allowed to any Scuba Diving in the Galapagos Islands without the support of a third party diving operator but can accommodate snorkeling, kayaking and swimming as alternatives. On the other hand, land based diving operators in the Galapagos can take divers out to the Marine Reserve but have limited access to land visits and other activities. All daily tour guests have to sleep on a land based accommodation on an inhabited island such as a hotel, hostel, etc.

Island Hopping:

Recently developed in the Galapagos, Island hopping is a modality which combines the daily tour model with overnights at a different island every one or two days.

Due to the conditions particular to the Galapagos Islands, all of the tour modalities described above usually include transportation as one of the main parts of the service provided. On the other hand, independent travelers usually try to take advantage of the inter-island transportation

Tip Top Diving is a travel agency and can organize trips

Are there any fees and / or taxes in Galapagos?

Yes, there are. First you will have to pay for a transit card at your origin in Quito or Guayaquil. After the flight, you will arrive to the Islands and pay the Galapagos National Park fee. The entry fee has to be paid in cash. The fee will give you access to the natural protected area of the Galapagos Islands.

What are the taxes in the Galapagos? Tipping? Are there price differences for foreigners?

Standard service charges are 10% and VAT is 12%. A 10% tip is accustomed on top of the 10% service charge (20% total). In some situations a two-tier pricing system is in place.

How do I get to the Galapagos?

You have to get to Ecuador mainland first. There are two international airports in Quito (UIO) and Guayaquil (GYE). There are several direct non-stop flights from New York, Houston and Miami to Quito and Guayaquil every day.

American Airlines and United / Continental are the main US carriers but DELTA and other airlines fly as well. The main Latin American Carriers are LAN, TACA. Iberia has daily flights from Madrid. KLM flies to Quito and Guayaquil as well.

Most flights arrive late in the afternoon or in the evening. You will most definitely need to spend a night in Quito or Guayaquil before flying to the Galapagos Islands the next day.

Flights to the Galapagos depart from Quito or Guayaquil. There are two main airports in the Galapagos Islands, one in Baltra (serves Puerto Ayora in Santa Cruz Island) and one in San Cristobal. There are many flights a day. TAME, AeroGal and LAN are the main carriers. Flights to the Galapagos take about two hours, our Tip Top Travel Lufthansa City Center agency in Quito can arrange flights for you.

The way out process is very similar. You will need to fly from the Galapagos (usually before 12pm) and have a transfer – hotel night in Quito or Guayaquil to take an early flight out the next day. If you can book an international flight leaving after 7pm you might be able to save that night in the mainland.


Rebreather Live-Aboard 2015

Following the success of our first comprehensive rebreather trip to the Galapagos in 2013, we are now organizing the next bi-annual trip for September 2015.  These trips represent the pinnacle in aquatic interaction on closed circuit rebreathers in the Galapagos and offer unique encounters unavailable on open circuit scuba.

This amazing experience is now made available to a very limited and select group of divers.   The Galapagos archipelago is a world famous hotspot for observing marine mega fauna, especially sharks. The use of rebreather technologies provides great opportunity for very close wildlife experiences in the islands.

In the Galapagos hundreds of hammerhead sharks and rays cruising overhead, while big schools of Galapagos sharks wonder very close, can be the fore playing scene for a bus sized whale shark to appear out of the blue…

This is a reason why many diving enthusiasts and underwater imaging specialists come every year.  But very few of the regular tourists will ever have the opportunity to witness this world patrimony national park in its perfect silence.  If the experience is amazing enough in Open Circuit imagine it with the bubble less and quiet and moist environment a rebreather provides.

From September 7th to 14th, 2015 a rebreather oriented expedition to the Galapagos Islands is being organized by PADI Course Directors and Technical Instructor Trainers Andy Phillips and Jorge Mahauad. The specialized trip is supported by Galapagos Rebreathers.

Following the success of our 2013 trip and guests wishing to rebook we only have 9 places available as of January 2014. Please contact us for more information.