The Galápagos archipelago, a chain of islands in the Pacific Ocean about 600 miles off the coast of Ecuador, is like no other place on earth. More than a hundred islets, rocks and 13 main islands make up the Galápagos. It is home to strange creatures found nowhere else. This is one of the few places in the world where you can scuba dive and snorkel with animals which remind one of the dinosaurs of ages past.
It is 7:30 in the morning and I’m on my personal veranda on a small hill looking out over green trees and beyond them to blue water and a bright orange sun emerging from it. My feet are up on the rail and there’s a cup of coffee in my hand. I snap a photo for Instagram—#itdoesntgetanybetterthanthis. And the day’s diving hasn’t even started yet.
The main reason for diving Malpelo Island is the sharks. The area is known for large schools of hammerheads, silky sharks, Galapagos and whitetip sharks. In the winter there is a population of sand tigers, and in late summer and fall, whale sharks call these waters their home. Other large pelagics can also be viewed. Tuna, jacks and eagle rays are not uncommon, with the occasional manta ray making an appearance.
If I were to tell you about a special place where no one locks their doors at night, where crime is virtually nonexistent, where the number of tourists is intentionally restricted to preserve the ecological balance, and where each visitor must pay a daily fee of 15 Euros (approximately US$20) to protect the environment, would you think about Brazil? Probably not!
Tucked behind rocks at 90 feet, my fellow divers and I were getting restless hoping for a visit from hammerheads or one of the resident tiger sharks, neither of which were cooperating. The dive master motioned for the group to follow, as he headed to another cleaning station and perhaps better luck. As I turned to make sure the videographer to my right got the signal, I saw him kicking in the opposite direction to deeper water.
First off, a confession. I love diving in Roatan. Why? For a couple of reasons. Number one—the reefs around the island are still in superb shape. Not a lot of ocean-going pelagics, it’s true. But I’ve been diving the reefs of the Caribbean for more than ten years, and I would rank Roatan in the top two. (Bonaire would be my other choice.)