Ken Riddick underwater photography of Galapagos Islands reefs and fish and creatures.
2006 Ken Riddick
elcome to the amazing Galapagos Islands.

Six hundred miles off the Pacific coast of Ecuador a unique confluence of ocean currents, volcanism and wildlife create a dive trip like none other. Considered by many to be the best diving in the world, it certainly is among the most rigorous and unique.

My long-time dive buddy, Brad Reynolds, and I dove the archipelago during eight days aboard the 105-foot live-aboard dive yacht M/V Deep Blue. An unforgettable experience.

We encountered dozens upon dozens of four different species of sharks, we wore ourselves out fighting sloppy seas and extreme currents, we made a few new friends. We had a ball.

All the hyperbole about these islands, well, isn't.

It wasn't all perfect. The notoriously fickle national park changed our itinerary at the last moment and we were not allowed to see the Darwin Science Center. And Brad was forced to change is return flight plans. The seas were often rough and several travelers were sick part of the time. But we had plenty of time at the best dive spots, including remote Darwin and Wolf Islands and we managed a couple of land excursions so that we could experience some of the topside beauty of this place, too.

All of our research told us that this was no ordinary dive trip. We learned that the water would be relatively cold, the currents strong and often dangerous and the visibility no better than some lakes. It was not a trip for beginners. But the divemasters take pretty solid precautions, including outfitting the divers with safety sausages, very loud alerts and even radio transmitters in the extreme case that a diver might be swept out into the endless Pacific.

The Deep Blue handled 16 divers very comfortably, the food was plentiful and delicious. Everything but the beer was included in the price, including the airfare from Guayaquil to San Cristobal Island. And the beer was cheap.

The service was top notch: hot showers followed by hot towels awaiting us after each dive. Then a snack and fresh juice. And the crew handled most of our gear so we weren't lugging it all over the boat.

And the pre-dive briefings were well informed and complete. We always knew what conditions to expect and how best to be prepared for each dive.

The dive crews worked very hard to make sure we got our value from the trip. We were in the water by 7 a.m. each day and could make 4 dives each full day of diving.

The trip started by flying to Guayaquil, Ecuador. We spent two nights there to assure that if our checked dive and photography equipment missed one of our connections, it would arrive before we had to board the boat, after which there would be no turning back. Many of the islands are remote and uninhabited. It would be essential that we had everything we needed on board.

We all had to do a "check out" dive at the mooring at Wreck Bay to tune our buoyancy and test our skills before we embarked. Then, it was off to far reaches of the archipelago and some experiences that will carry us into old age.

Press the "next" button below to join our adventure.

A note on technique: All the underwater images were made with Nikon D100 cameras housed in a Light and Motion Titan. For close ups I shot the Nikkor 60mm micro with the Light and Motion flat port and a 16mm lens for wider shots behind thier 8" dome port. All were lit with a pair of Sea and Sea YS90 strobes.

The topside stuff was shot with a Nikon D100 digital and either the Nikkor 16mm or 12 - 24mm zoom lenses for the wide shots or a Nikkor 80 - 200 zoom for the longer images.

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Pictures from other trips:
Roatan | Little Cayman Island | Galapagos | Grand Turk
French Polynesia | Bonaire | Belize | Saba | Exuma Cays

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