ABOUT US - The Team

A carefully crafted group offering decades of dive industry expertise!

Galapagos Dive Academy provides excellence in dive safety and instruction, while offering the highest levels of customer service available in the islands. Between them, company principals Claudia and Juan-Carlos bring together more than 35 years of experience as instructors, a wealth of specialist local knowledge, and a real passion for the natural environment. Add in the competencies of the others in the team and Galapagos Dive Academy provides an unrivalled capability drawing upon more than 50 years of know how!

Here’ a little detail about those at the heart of the operation…

Claudia Molina - PADI IDC Staff Instructor, SSI Instructor, and co-owner.

I grew up in Brazil, living close to the sea, and quickly learned to love the marine world. 

I moved to Ecuador at the age of 16 to study Ecological Tourism in Quito.  Following this, I arrived in the Galapagos for the first time in 2001, when I initially experienced diving.  I knew immediately that I would seek employment in the dive industry, and I became a PADI Instructor in 2004, thereafter working in Brazil and Honduras before returning to the Galapagos. 

It’s the islands here (and my Ecuadorian husband) that have captured my heart - and now I’m here to stay.
I’ve worked with all the best operators across the islands, forged great relations with them, and certified over 600 PADI students in recent years. When I’m not working on behalf of our dive and film operations, I’m to be found enjoying the sun’s rays and playing in the sea alongside my husband, Juan Carlos, and our two children..

Image - Claudia Molina

Juan-Carlos Balda - PADI Master Scuba Diver Trainer and co-owner.

I was born in Guayaquil, the large coastal city in southern Ecuador.

I fell in love with marine animals and the unique character of the underwater world at a very young age, thanks to my family. 

Dedicating my life to diving and natural history seemed a powerful way to teach others about the wonders of the sea and the need for us to take far better care of our oceans.  

I have been a diver since 2001 and a PADI Instructor since 2008, certifying some 300 students over the last 15 years.

Alongside Claudia, I’ve been developing our business supporting international film crews working in the islands and today, my roles are split between teaching and supporting documentary film makers.

Image - Juan-Carlos Balda

Alan Jacome - PADI Free-Diving Instructor

I’m a local, having been born and raised in the Galapagos on Santa Cruz Island. Here, since childhood, I’ve enjoyed our many snorkelling and surfing sites. A few years ago, while at ‘Las Grietas’, a series of water filled lagoons adjacent to the coast, I was overcome with the desire to reach the bottom, and this became my motivation to learn freediving. I started a formal course in 2020 and became a PADI Freedive Instructor in 2021.

In 2022 I was invited by Claudia and Juan Carlos to join Galapagos Dive Academy and, since then, I’ve been sharing my passion for freediving with guests! I’m often asked, ‘why should I freedive’? For me, answer is simple, the training takes you deeper for longer, provides for magical encounters with shy marine life, and connects you to the ocean with minimal impact

Some people freedive for the challenge, but for me it’s true appeal lays in the calm it brings to a hectic world. While on a breath hold dive, I can silently merge with the underwater world and enjoy its many rare sights and extraordinary sounds - come join me!

Image - Alan Jacome

Sofía Green Iturralde - Divemaster

I’m a marine biologist and divemaster from Ecuador and I’ve been working in the Galapagos Islands as a scientific researcher, diver, and wildlife photographer for some 7 years.

Since 2021, I have also acted as a divemaster and lecturer on board educational expeditions ranging across our archipelago.

My main scientific focus has been on the whale shark population in the islands, in pursuit of which I have worked collaboratively with research projects led by local Galapagos organisations.

When you dive with me, I hope you will experience my passion for sea life, as I help you discover how to work as a citizen scientist in support of marine conservation.

Image - Sofia Green

Cristian Solis - Boat Captain

I’m a native of the islands, my family arrived in 1960 and were pioneers in the development of the Galapagos.

I’m the second generation of my family to have become a fisherman but, in recent years, I’ve turned away from this profession and dedicated myself to tourism.

As the captain of ‘NINA’, our dive platform, it’s my responsibility to look after the boat itself and all aboard her. To do this, I draw on the knowledge I’ve amassed over my working life about both marine technology and the seas around the Galapagos islands. This know-how comes with me on all our trips, alongside a positive attitude and sense of humour!

I’m a scuba diver and regularly spend time under the water. When I’m not working or diving, I like to enjoy life on my farm, communing with nature and pursuing a positive attitude to life.

(Claudia adds, ‘We greatly enjoy having Cristian as our dive boat captain and encourage you to get to know him when onboard, we are sure you will be appreciative of his enthusiasm, knowledge, friendly disposition, and his supporting hand as you climb back onboard the boat!)

Image - Cristian Solis

Nick and Paul - IT Services

Nick and Paul have known each other for many years and when not busy with work and their families they dive - Nick is a DM and Paul a Rescue Diver. Occasionally, they also collaborate, as ‘Nick and Paul Multimedia’, to produce websites and provide IT support to individuals and organisations working in the scuba sector.

Nick and Paul say:

We have come to hold those at Galapagos Dive Academy in high regard and are keen to see their business realise its full potential. Our best wishes to to Claudia, Juan-Carlos and everyone associated with the new company!

For the techies out there, this website was built using Hugo and is hosted on Github Pages.

If you would like to contact Nick and Paul, use the email address in the website footer.

Image - Nick and Paul at work on the GDA website

Want to join our team?

We are actively looking for volunteers and paid staff as we expand our business.  If you would like to be considered for a position as an instructor/divemaster/or office-based team member, do please send us your CV and a brief letter setting out your hopes and aspirations.  Fluency in German, French, Japanese or Chinese, as well as in Spanish, is of special interest.