If you’re going to cut costs on a Galapagos Islands trip, don’t skimp out on a guided diving trip. As bumpy as my Galapagos adventure was (due to a choice to explore the islands without the comfort and convenience of a live-aboard boat), the few hours I spent underwater were unbeatable. And that’s thanks to local legend and dive shop owner Juan Carlos Moncayo. Known by other locals as “Macaron,” Moncayo is one of the few shop owners who dives with his customers frequently. After more than 20 years below the ocean’s surface, he knows the waters like the back of his hand. He’s the kind of person worth every penny when diving through new territory.
At the start of our first dive, Macaron directed his boat captain to the side of a lone rocky island away from the coast of Puerto Ayora. Once the engine had been cut and the boat steadied, I watched as his eyes darted here and there — I had no idea what clues he saw, but it seemed like something caught his attention.
“Let’s go,” said Macaron.
With much less grace than Macaron, we heaved on our tanks and weight belts and lined up seated on the edge of the boat. One by one, we flopped backwards into the waves, and sunk down into the center of a swirling, seemingly endless wall of fish.