crystal blue water

A Remarkable Week in the Stunning Galapagos Islands

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So as part of our South American trip for us, the Galapagos Islands couldn’t be missed. We saved extra money especially to experience the uniqueness of these Ecuadorian Islands. The excitement was definitely reaching fever pitch. A week in nature with wildlife unique to this area. A week of being in the sea and sand between my toes. I couldn’t be happier. I grew up by the sea and it is still my favourite place. Although, The Mountains now come a very close second.

Day 1 – Galapagos Islands: A Day Spent in Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz Island

This is was our first full day on the island of Santa Cruz… apparently, October is the cool and dry time of the year with highs of 22 degrees. Well, being from England this still felt like summer to us. We opted for day tours to see areas as the cruises didn’t have any good last-minute deals. However, October is meant to be a good time for them. Your best bet to snag one of them is at the port by the airport not down in Santa Cruz. Or you can book a cruise in advance. These are on the pricey side but perfect if you are just taking a holiday.

A Visit to The Charles Darwin Centre on The Galapagos Islands

Our first adventure for the day was to the Charles Darwin Centre. The centre showcases all the conservation work going on to preserve the endangered species on the islands. Galapagos Giant Tortoise are impressive in size and can only be found here. These islands helped shape Darwin’s Theory of Natural Selection. And you can find all the information you need here at the Charles Darwin Centre.

Las Greitas swimming gauge in the Galapagos Islands
Las Greitas

An Afternoon at the Las Grietas

Las Grietas is an unknown adventure as it isn’t advertised. However, it is worth the visit. We were shockingly surprised this wasn’t spoken about more… maybe they were hoping to leave it as a local’s spot. An afternoon of fun. First, you catch the inexpensive water taxi across the water to the other side. Although, there is a little walking involved. It is simple enough as you follow the path. The walk is a little rocky but we did it in flip-flops with no problems.

Me and my friend jumping into the Las Grietas swimming area
Swimming in a Unique Place
A pink salt flat in the Galapagos Islands
Pink Salt Flat

On the way to the final destination, we were surprised by a mini, pink salt flat. The walk is pretty with views back across the bay. We walked past the beach to the spot we were hoping to find. Las Grietas. This was an awesome unique swimming spot. It is a small channel of water between two volcanic rocks. Also, the water is turquoise in colour making it so inviting. Snorkeling is allowed and there is plenty of small fish to spot.

Day 2: A Day Boat Trip to Island Prizon

We were more than ready to be on that boat. Our first of three trips. It was a cool, windy overcast day as we set off from the dock with the tour group. We prayed that the sun came out. Along with the tour we were lent short wetsuits and snorkels.

The First Snorkel

Our first snorkel of the day was around a shallow bay where sea lions were the entertainment. They are very playful. The visibility was good. We swam around. There was plenty of sea life such as many different varieties of fish, sea turtles, and stingrays. String-rays always give me a heart attack. I don’t like swimming near them. However, we were told these ones don’t sting. I’m not sure how true that is but I believed it at the time.

No one warned us how cold the sea was. I know we were there in October so a cooler month but it was worse than England’s sea temperature. In my eyes that is saying something. I go in the sea at home in the summer (England) in just a swimsuit. Crazy to think here the short wetsuit wasn’t enough to protect me from the freezing cold!!

A Walk Around Island Prizon

Sea Lion on Galapagos Islands
A Sea Lion Catching Some Sun

This stop was a short walk around the rocky coastline of the inhabited (well by humans) island. Island Prizon is in the middle of the sea. This island was home to the blue-footed booby. They actually get their name because they nest in the open. It was nesting season so we got to see it first-hand. Nests just lay there ready for predators to attack. Let’s hope they are good at defence.

The Second and Third Snorkel

Still freezing and no sun to warm us up yet; our guide was nice enough to combine the last two snorkels together. We opted out of the first half because around a rocky coastline to see green sea turtles. We had already seen many of them so getting warmer to enjoy the last part was our priority. With the sun breaking through we managed to warm up in time for the second part. Yes, I love it when a plan comes together. Of we jumped into the freezing sea again and caught up with the group.

This section was around a bay and the mammal we were looking for needed to be ticked off my list… White-tip Reef Sharks. Yes, that’s right… sharks. Sharks of the non-scary, non-human biting kind. I hovered still and quiet over about four or five of them. I didn’t finish counting before a member of the group who clearly lacked snorkel experience scared them all away!!

My friend who lacked speed in the water only because she was flipperless. A sore toe meant she couldn’t use them so she spent her time behind the group. This was a good thing because as she swam back to the boat. The sharks were swimming along with her. What a bonus.


Day 3: My First Ever Scuba Dive at Seymour

This nearly never happened. I went back and forth so many times. Yes, I can conquer this; actually, no I can’t. After a night of persuading me, my friend took me with her to the dive shop. Luckily, I was in luck they had a space on their beginner boat. The nerves really started to set in. I was quiet the whole boat ride out to the dive spot.

Finally, it was my turn. I don’t have a PADI so down with the instructor I went. I tried to go down once but failed. My goggles filled with water. I switched them out and down I went again. I had a session in the pool before coming but it wasn’t the same. Once under and distracted by all the awesome sea life I began to relax.

Sea lions kept me company for a couple of seconds rolling as they came past. However, the highlight was these small blue sea slugs pointing out from a rock. Only after, I discovered that these are a rare find. What a bonus to one of the most incredible experiences ever!!! I don’t know why I was so scared, to begin with. I definitely will do this again.

Day 4: Island Isabela, Galapagos Islands

Another early start like our whole trip to be fair. There was once a time when you wouldn’t have me awake so early. However, as my days are filled with new adventures and new people waking up has never been easier. I was ready and raring to go. The ferry took us to Island Isabela, more of a local island, and much less touristy than Santa Cruz. After a smooth ferry over, we found accommodation and set off to explore.

A Boardwalk Around the Mangroves

Mangrrove Boardwalk on Isabel
A Nice Walk Around Mangroves

There is a nice stroll along a boardwalk that went through the mangroves and out to an open bay. Around this beach area, sea lions were high in numbers as well as marine iguanas. This is a reptile unique to just the Galapagos Islands. The marine iguana is the only lizard that forges at sea. This is incredible and a great showcase for adapting to the environment around you.

Afternoon Spent Walking Around Island Isabela

Sunset on Island Isabel
Fabulous Sunset

After a much-needed rest and refill, we were ready to set off and find the tortoise breeding centre. This turned out to be a much longer walk than expected but with different landscapes to keep us entertained. We found the Galapagos flamingo as we strolled around the wetlands. It was a long but easy walk as it was all flat.

We made it back in time for sunset at the beach. I do love a good sunset and this one didn’t disappoint. Well, do sunsets ever!!

Day 5: A Boat Trip to the Lava Tunnels

This was our final full day here, and of course what else would we do? That’s right, we had another snorkel planned as this is a good way to see sea life. The lava tunnels are a popular choice and it only leaves from Island Isobel. Although, you can book it from Santa Cruz. This was the best one yet as luck was on our side. We were expecting penguins so when the guide told us we would be lucky if we saw one. We got a little disappointed.

As we headed to our destination, we were greeted with manta rays swimming past. They are so magnificent and graceful as they glide through the water. Also, there is something that only happens four times a year in the Galapagos Islands. A large pod of dolphins making its way through. Yes, that’s right we saw that too.

The lava tunnels were fun to snorkel around and as well as walk around. Again, this was a blue-footed boobie nesting site. The second snorkel was through quite shallow water so easy to tear up the sediment at the bottom. It did obstruct the visibility a little. Again, there was someone who couldn’t control the flippers… how annoying. Trying to get away from him and when we did.

The Amazing Wildlife…

The biggest string rays I have ever seen. I didn’t realise they could get so big. I’m talking way over 2 metres wide how impressive is that? I was nervous to swim over the top of them. As I started to swim over him he went on his merry way with such grace. Any ray swimming is incredible to witness as they make it look so effortless. Also, among this rocky bay lived some whit-tip reef sharks, again of an impressive size. Also, something I haven’t seen before… a collection of sea horses. This was fresh and exciting.

This was a day that kept on giving. From the moment we got onto the boat till the moment we docked. As we swam back to the boat this snorkel had one last surprise. Can you guess? The moment we had hoped would happen. The reason why we chose this day tour. Minding our business tired from the long snorkel suddenly the call out from our guide. There it was all alone resting at sea.


Penguin in Galapagos Islands
The Best Moment of The Week

Just when we fought it was all over. The one animal we really wanted to see. Yes! This moment is so engrained into my memory I can picture it so clearly. We hovered in one place for what felt like ages and then suddenly the penguin dived down right in front of us. Undisturbed view of this incredible encounter. Words could not describe the happiness and excitement at that moment. WHAT A DAY!

Summary of the Best Week in the Galapagos Islands

Wow! This week left me speechless. Wildlife in its abundance. New experiences and many many vivid memories were made. This is one week I never will forget. I think you can guess what I am going to say. That’s right if you are in South America you have to make time and a budget for the Galapagos Islands. It felt like paradise every moment we were there. On every trip outside we encountered a variety of different species. What a magical week. A dream destination.

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