Galapagos Spectacular Hammerhead, Manta, Mola and Marine Iguana Trip 2026 - Bluewater Dive Travel

Galapagos Spectacular Hammerhead, Manta, Mola and Marine Iguana Trip 2026

Galapagos Diving Hammerhead
Galapagos Bird Bluefooted Bobby
Galapagos Diving Turtle
Galapagos Diving Whaleshark
Galapagos Diving Darwin's Arch
Galapagos Diving Jackfish
Galapagos Diving Marine Iguana

 

Galapagos Spectacular Hammerhead, Manta, Mola and Marine Iguana Trip 2026

This will be an epic 10-night trip to see hammerheads, mantas, penguins, batfish, seahorses, Galapagos sharks and more. The trip is timed for the best hammerhead encounters, best visibility, and best water temps. The trip will be on the excellent Galapagos Master.

 

Why Join This Trip?

  • Incredible 10-night itinerary delivers non-stop schooling hammerheads, giant manta rays, Mola molas and feeding marine iguanas - plus eagle rays, Galapagos sharks, penguins and giant tortoises.
  • Special plans are made to maximize time with the Iguanas and Mola mola.
  • This is a must-do best of the best trip, at the perfect time of the year.
  • Our best and most popular custom Galapagos marine life itinerary.
  • Includes free photo workshop from Nirupam Nigam.
  • Unique 10-night itinerary also maximizes time at the world’s the best shark sites.

 

May 7 - 17, 2026

Trip Leader: Nirupam Nigam

10 Nights

Lower Deck Cabin: $10,400 per person, double occupancy

Upper Deck Cabin: $10,550 per person, double occupancy

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Early Booking Discount:

Get $1,000 off for the first 5 sign-ups!

 

Trip Overview

"I have put together an epic trip to the Galapagos, where we will help people get incredible photos of hammerhead sharks, mantas, penguins and more. I have picked a boat with the best possible itinerary for this purpose at the best time of year - this will truly be a trip of a lifetime." - Scott Gietler

The unique and isolated islands of the Galapagos are home to truly extraordinary creatures: Schooling hammerheads and a large variety of other sharks, mantas, sea turtles, and sea lions, as well as endemic species such as penguins, flightless cormorants, and extensive schools of fish.

Hammerhead during a Bluewater group trip led by Mark Strickland

Photos taken during a Bluewater group trip led by Mark Strickland in 2022

Scott has done extensive research to choose the best possible time of year and route for this trip. He will be making sure photographers and non-photographers alike have an incredible trip.

 

Galapagos Master Galapagos Master

 

The Galapagos Master is a first-class yacht with capacity for just 16 divers. Its spacious cabins and well-designed dive amenities ensure a comfortable and relaxing trip. A spacious indoor lounge boasts cushioned bench seating and a plasma screen for photo viewing, and there is an indoor camera set-up station with numerous charging points and storage drawers situated to the rear, providing ample room for a full photography charter group. Further camera preparation areas can be found on the rear deck next to the dive deck.

Read reviews on diving Galapagos here

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Marine Life to Photograph

Thanks to their extreme isolation, the Galapagos Islands have some of the most unique marine life on the planet. Here are just a few examples of marine life you're likely to see: dolphins, sea lions, penguins, turtles, marlin and large schools of fish, silky sharks, Galapagos sharks, whale sharks, reef sharks, hammerhead sharks, eels, and manta rays. This is a wide-angle photographer's paradise, but don't leave the macro lens at home: frogfish, octopus, seahorses, nudibranchs and other small subjects are found at various dive sites.

 

Diving Conditions

The trip takes place during the warm season in the Galapagos, with the highest water and air temperatures. We may experience afternoon rain showers,  but the sun shines again after the rain.

Water temperature is 21-30C (70-86F) with some cooler thermoclines at depth. The northern islands are generally warmer. Visibility stays at an excellent 12 to 33 meters (40-100 feet).

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Inclusions

  • Accommodations in a Lower Deck cabin, double occupancy
  • All meals and snacks throughout the cruise
  • FREE daily photo workshops and tutorials
  • Coffee from the espresso machine, tea, fruit juice, and soft drinks
  • Land-based tours
  • Airport transfers

 

Exclusions

  • Galapagos National Park fee ($100 cash, paid upon arrival in San Cristobal)
  • Ingala Transit Card ($20 payable at Guayaquil International Airport)
  • Nitrox ($225 cash, payable onboard)
  • Airfare, additional transfers, and hotels
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Equipment/computer/underwater torch rental
  • Dive insurance
  • Fuel surcharge
  • Gratuity

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TRIP TYPE

This trip is a PHOTOGRAPHY WORKSHOP. It will be led by one of our photo instructors and will include daily underwater photography tutorials, in-water photography support, and one-to-one advice and guidance as required.

What to expect from our Photo Workshops

  • Daily photo workshops - Your photo instructor will schedule seminars each day on topics including, but not limited to, equipment type and selection, the concept of underwater photography, lighting and composition techniques, and post-processing. They will also include additional topics relevant to the location and your experience.
  • In-water support - Where possible, each dive group will spend time underwater with the photo instructor, receiving in-water support and guidance on their shooting techniques.  Participants can also request in-water assistance during the workshop and the photo instructor will do his or her best to accommodate all requests. 
  • Consecutive days of practice & review - Each day you will have the opportunity to practice the techniques and skills learned in the previous day’s tutorials. If you are new to underwater photography you will likely see a vast improvement in just a few days.
  • Daily photo image reviews - You are strongly encouraged to bring your laptop, a thumb drive, edit your photos, and submit your shots for review from both the instructor and your peers. These are fun and interactive sessions encouraging you to improve throughout the trip.
  • Quality time with fellow photographers - Both new and experienced photographers from past workshops have expressed the advantages of joining a trip with like-minded divers with a passion for underwater photography.
  • Suitable for everyone - New and experienced photographers are welcome on all our trips. Gain the necessary skills to start shooting great photos, increase your confidence in finding the best underwater shots, or hone specific skills. We also encourage non-photographers to join, as many of them really enjoy the daily photo reviews, learning about underwater photography, and some have even returned to a photo workshop with an underwater camera setup!

Enjoy free, unlimited access to a wealth of knowledge and advice from your photo instructor.


trip syllabus

Bluewater's Galapagos workshop with Nirupam Nigam features the best diving in the world combined with the best underwater photo tips! Experience the opportunity to photograph and swim with hammerhead sharks, possible whale sharks, marine iguanas, Galapagos penguins, manta rays, harlequin wrasse, and more!

This workshop will include 8.5 days of instruction including 8 x 60-minute presentations as well as 2-3 x 30-minute image reviews and a final underwater photo contest. Teaching will take the form of PowerPoint presentations, informal group discussions, 1-on1 training, streaming live demonstrations (e.g., using programs like Lightroom), and underwater help.

 

  • Introductory Topics (Days 1 & 2):
  • Introduction to Galapagos's Top Creatures and Photographic Opportunities: This introduction will go over our favourite subjects and reef scenes we can photograph in the Galapagos. Nirupam will cover his top tips for photographing each subject as well as information about their natural history, habitat, and lifecycle. Subjects include Galapagos sea lions, Galapagos penguins, marine iguanas, harlequin wrasse, mola mola, hammerhead sharks, whale sharks, manta rays and more! 
  • Introduction to Underwater Photography: This class is Nirupam's grand introduction to the hobby of underwater photography. He will cover essential information from the phenomenon of light attenuation to the triangle of exposure to underwater composition and strobe positioning. This class can sometimes span over 2 days.
  • Intermediate Topics (Days 3, 4 & 5):
  • Underwater Lighting Demonstration: This is a short class that will cover general positions for both underwater strobe and video lights with a single light source or dual light sources. Nirupam will cover both wide-angle and macro photography as well as what to do in difficult conditions with limited visibility or white sand. 
  • Introduction to Macro Photography (short class): This class introduces students to the concept of a macro lens and subject. It covers ideas for lighting, composition, and creative tools of the trade. Nirupam will talk about how to photograph blue-striped nudibranchs, gobies, blennies, and more macro subjects. 
  • Adobe Lightroom - the Full Spectrum: This is the largest class of the workshop. Nirupam's Adobe Lightroom class includes the full spectrum of use for underwater photography including importing images, using the star rating system and sorting, creating collections, basic underwater editing, backscatter removal, and new AI masking tools/denoise/sharpen. As a follow-up, students will have the opportunity for 1-on-1 lightroom instruction in the evenings. Introduction to Wide-Angle Photography (short class): This class introduces students to wide-angle lenses, photographing reefscapes, and dome port optics. It covers ideas for composition and lighting as well as different techniques for photographing sharks, sea lions, iguanas, and other Galapagos critters. 
  • Photographing Sharks: Nirupam's top tips for photographing sharks with an overview of shark behaviour, approaching sharks, and techniques for focus and lighting. This class will focus on the hammerhead sharks found in the Galapagos.
  • Advanced Wide Angle Topics (Days 6 & 7):
  • Ambient Light & Close Focus Wide Angle: This class covers more advanced wide-angle techniques for close focus and ambient light. Nirupam takes a look at lighting techniques, lens selection, capturing refraction, and light attenuation. 
  • Capturing Quick Action Underwater: It can be difficult to photograph quick pelagic subjects underwater. This class will cover my top techniques for locking focus, using burst shooting, and composition with quick underwater subjects. 
  • Photographing Sea Lions (Short Class): Sea Lions are a lot of fun to play with but can be frustrating to photograph! This class goes over Nirupam's recommended lighting techniques, autofocus techniques, and settings for getting great detail and colour in your sea lion photos.

 

Nirupam will have open sessions for one 1-on-1 time at least one hour per day. During dives, he will be alternating dive groups and offering underwater help to provide lighting and triangle of exposure settings advice to the best of his abilities. He will be available by request to anyone. Many of these dives have strong currents or variable encounters with subjects, so there will be fewer underwater instruction opportunities than in other workshops. This is especially true for Wolf and Darwin. Nirupam will also be available underwater to anyone who is having camera issues and can try to fix any problems that are occurring underwater. He will be available for 1-on-1 advice throughout the workshop and will have open sessions in the evenings before bed to help with lightroom and any questions that people have.

 

Trip Schedule

The itinerary can be variable and will be planned according to the direction of the trip leader and cruise director on board. They will have a good idea at that time of the conditions at the various locations.

 

galapagos dive site map and route

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About the Galapagos Master

The new Galapagos Master liveaboard used to be the "Deep Blue" - a very well-laid out boat. The Master Liveaboard fleet, owned by the Siren Fleet (WWDS), has refitted the boat with new engines, new compressors, new generators, new water-makers, individual air-con, an entertainment system in each room, a dedicated camera station, new dive gear for rent, and Nautilus lifelines, along with many other small improvements.

Read the report on our previous Galapagos trip and great reviews of the Galapagos Master!

 

Galapagos Master

Galapagos Master  Galapagos Master Saloon

Galapagos Master  Galapagos Master

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Flight Information

  • The trip will begin and end in San Cristobal.
  • When the time comes (no sooner than 1 year before departure) we can assist you with flight suggestions and booking.
  • Guests will fly into Guayaquil International Airport (code GYE) or Quito (code UIO), then take one of the daily 1-hour flights to San Cristobal (code SCY).
  • Embarkation begins on May 7th; it is recommended that guests arrive on the 6th and stay in a nearby hotel, although if you are tight on time it is still possible to arrive on the 7th and immediately board the boat.
  • Disembarkation is the morning of May 17th; you will take one of the daily flights out of San Cristobal back to GYE or UIO. Have at least 3-4 hours layover before your international departure, or stay a night near the airport if you want to play it safe. 

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ABOUT THE TRIP LEADER

Nirupam Nigam is a dedicated underwater photographer and fisheries scientist. While growing up in Los Angeles he fell in love with the ocean and pursued underwater photography in Southern California's Channel Islands. He received degrees in Aquatic and Fisheries Science and General Biology, as well as a minor in Arctic Studies, at the University of Washington. He spent some time as a fisheries observer on fishing vessels in the Bering Sea and North Pacific, collecting data for NOAA. When he is not at sea, he is traveling with his wife and taking photos.

As the Editor-in-Chief of the Underwater Photography Guide and the Chief Marketing Officer at Bluewater Photo & Video, Nirupam is one of the world's few full-time underwater photography editors. You can get in touch with him at nirupam@uwphotographyguide.com or through his website www.photosfromthesea.comRead more about Nirupam here.

 

 

Payment Schedule

  • Deposit: $800
  • Payment 2: $2,400 - Due 2/15/25
  • Payment 3: $4,000 - Due 8/15/25
  • Final Payment: Due 11/15/25

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Got Questions? Ready to Book?

Call us today at +1-310-915-6677 email us at trips@bluewaterdivetravel.com

Or stop by our office at 3961 Sepulveda Blvd, Suite 206 Culver City, CA 90230 

And let us book your dream vacation!

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Photo Gallery 

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Galapagos Photos & Video from Previous Trips

 

Galapagos 2018 Trip Galapagos 2018 Trip

Galapagos 2018 Trip Galapagos 2018 Trip

Galapagos 2018 Trip Galapagos 2018 Trip

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TRIP DOCUMENTATION

A resource of information for guests who have signed up for the trip.

10-Night Detailed Itinerary

Master Liveaboards Trip Information

Domestic Flight Schedule  - N.B. the prices quoted may not be accurate and are currently under revision. Please contact us for the latest flight prices.

Guyaquil Hotels

Quito Hotels

Bluewater Waiver

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