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What To Expect On A Cabo Marshall Liveaboard
Liveaboards to Cabo Marshall in the Galapagos Islands will offer fantastic dive opportunities in this special area. Cabo Marshall is on the North East coast of Isabella island, the largest of the Galapagos islands. This headland is in the shadow of Wolf volcano. The volcano remains active and has erupted as recently as 2015. The lava flows from the last eruption threatened the rare pink iguana which is unique to Galapagos. Fortunately, this particular eruption was not as severe as had been feared but the wildlife in the area remains under threat from volcanic activity. In addition to the iguanas there are colonies of sea lions, sea birds and turtles.
There are no land visits permitted to Cabo Marshall and it is only accessible from a liveaboard dive boat. The depth here and the presence of a plateau around 12 meters/40 ft, makes this area an ideal cleaning station for mantas and other rays. Cleaner wrasse live on the shallower areas of the wall waiting for pelagics to pass by.
Morning - Most Galapagos liveaboards will do one or two dives in Cabo Marshall. The first dive will start early in the morning around 6:30 am with a light breakfast and a briefing before heading to the dive deck. The panga tenders will drop the divers quite close in to the headland where there is an underwater plateau. The swell can be very high here so a negative decent directly onto the plateau is normally recommended. The dive can last from 50-60 minutes depending on what depth you go to, the range is between 12 and 40 meters/ 40 to 130 ft.
Afternoon - After a proper breakfast there will be the second dive along the plateau. If you alternate between close to the shore, where the sea lions are and the plateau edge where you can see the mantas and rays you shouldn’t miss anything.
Cabo Marshall Underwater
Liveaboard diving at Cabo Marshall is about rays. You can see mantas and schools of rays at other dive sites but Cabo Marshall offers the best sightings. The deep drop-offs and plateau make it a perfect place for them to stop off and get a clean from the wrasse living here. This is a great opportunity for naturalists to observe this symbiotic relationship in action. The mantas also come onto the plateau itself making this dive an opportunity to take some amazing photographs of these strange and beautiful creatures.
Cabo Marshall is also a top location to see shoals of rays. In particular, mobula rays, a smaller relative of the manta ray can be seen travelling in large schools. Look out into the blue and up in order to see them, mobulas often travel a few meters from the surface.
Top Tips for Cabo Marshall
- The site is deep but best to stay on the plateau around 12 meters/40ft. There is nothing much more interesting deeper and it will reduce your dive time.
- Do your safety stop out in the blue. There is every chance you will see mantas or shoals of mobulas passing.
- Approach any mantas slowly and carefully, they are shy and easily scared off back into the blue.
Getting to Cabo Marshall
Getting to Galapagos from Ecuador is relatively easy. Most flights are around a 2-hour transit from Guayaquil and Quito which both have international airports. The most frequent flights are with airlines LAN, Tame and Avianca.
Most liveaboards in Galapagos will stop at Cabo Marshall towards the beginning or end of the tour. The area is fairly remote for the central islands. It is on the very North Eastern part of Isabella and is more than a few hours’ sail from other main dive sites such as Cabo Douglas and Cousins Rock.
Diving day boats do not normally visit Cabo Marshall meaning that the only way to get here is to do a liveaboard. Keep an eye out from the deck while travelling close to Cabo Marshall as it is a common place for mobula rays, which can be seen breaching to attract mates. Once the liveaboard arrives, divers will normally be dropped by tender close to the shore due to the depth and swell at the shore.