After such a phenomenal time diving in the Galapagos, I genuinely felt a huge amount of trepidation ahead of my next dive – what if diving just wasn’t the same now?! Fears were unwarranted – the diving here is great!
I went with Oceano Scuba, a German-owned 5-star PADI dive centre that has been running for 31 years. The dive shop is immaculate, well-stocked and the staff are friendly. I paid $200.000COP (£52) for boat transfer, two dives and lunch. I believe you can pay less elsewhere in town but I had heard that other places use sub-standard gear. Also, Oceano accepted credit cards without question and didn’t apply a fee – almost everywhere else would add 4-5%.
I arrived at the dive shop at 08:30 to pay and get the dive gear ready. Thankfully a 3mm wetsuit is fine here. There were about 10 divers but some were dropped off after only 10 minutes for their PADI Open Water qualifying dives. There were 5 of us diving with an instructor at a dive site called El Torin. A few people took a while to get sorted and down to the bottom so I had a great time exploring the coral for all sorts of little creatures while I waited.
The reef was so colourful. It looks really healthy which was a massive relief. The brain corals were enormous!! Some were olive green and brown so they looked like army camouflage versions. I saw Christmas Tree Worms for the first time and thought they were excellent, they look just like little bottle brushes with white bristles and a colourful underneath.
I also saw fireworms for the first time and many more arrowhead crabs and cleaner shrimps than I’ve seen previously. The hard and soft corals were both impressive and the dive site in general was really good. I strongly recommend a visit.
We jumped back on the boat and went to a tiny hut on the shore for a lunch of sandwiches and fruit. There were some tame iguanas that scaled down the wall to join us and the big one was friendly enough to pet. He would tilt his head up to get a good scratch and close his eyes so it looked like he was loving it.
Dive two was close to where we had lunch at a dive site called Piedra en la mitad. This was another nice site and the visibility was really good, making the colours brighter. It was another great place to hunt among the coral for cool little creatures although I found more than enough mini eels for my liking. I reckon they were normal sized but after those monsters in the Galapagos these seemed quite cute/pathetic. As we were heading up for our safety stop at the end of the dive I was a bit behind the group, having a look under a brain coral, when I rounded the corner and bumped into a huge lobster! Tempting to bring him up to the safety stop to show the others but I left him.
It was a leisurely dive and much more comfortable after diving in the strong Galapagos currents. I highly recommend diving here if you’re passing through.
We made it back to the dive shop by about 3pm and I headed off to the Dreamer Hostel in Santa Marta (home) to meet up with my buddies again ready for our next group adventure – Minca, up in the cloud forest.