The Galapagos Islands are probably the most famous wildlife-watching destination in the world. And no wonder – it’s almost impossible to exaggerate the sheer spectacle of the place that provided inspiration for Charles Darwin’s ground-breaking theory of natural selection.
If there is one place on earth that you should absolutely go at least one time in your life is definitely, the Galapagos Islands. It should be in your bucket list without a doubt. I remember when I was a child watching National Geographic and being astonished of that incredible beautiful Islands of Galapagos and I promised myself that one day I’ll travel there.
Galapagos Islands, Santa Cruz
I heard about the Galapagos in the context of Darwin’s research and theory conducted on the different islands allowing him to compare the differences of evolution of species.
When I arrived at the airport of Baltra, there is a bus to take for around 5-10 minutes and then a boat to pass the channel between Baltra and Santa Cruz (2 minutes). The first thing that surprised me is that there is only one road linking the North part of the Island to Puerto Ayora which is the town where people live. The reason for this one road is that the rest of the entire island is a protected area where no alteration of humans can be done.
My first visit in Santa Cruz was the world’s top 10 most beautiful beaches, Tortuga Bay. In order to arrive there, you need to walk for 40 minutes in order to arrive to the actual beach. Alongside the walk, you can enjoy Santa Cruz flora with big cacti, different type of trees such as Mangroves, Palo Santo. The beach was absolutely stunning, the sand was white and the water, crystal clear. When you start walking toward the bay, you can admire Marine Iguanas taking a nap under the shadows of Mangrove trees. I enjoyed my day at the beach, swam in the sea, did some snorkeling and relaxed.
In the evenings, there are always great things to do. There are many great restaurants, bars where you can have a drink. Or just walk around and shop.
The next activity I did on the island, was the Bahia Tour (or Bay tour), which takes you on a boat to discover Santa Cruz bay and the surroundings. It was me and an Ecuadorian family very excited as well for this day trip! While waiting for the boat to arrive, we all took pictures of the relaxed sea lions laying on the benches at the port. With the boat we managed to close enough to take pictures of the famous blue footed boobies! They were magnificent! We went to Las Grietas which are caves where you can enjoy a swim and the crystal clear water, to some snorkeling and refresh yourself. After that we went to do snorkeling in a place where there are an abundance of sea turtles and sea lions. The experience was incredible! Right before the sunset, we went to the “Playa de los perros”, where you can see a reef of sharks. We then enjoyed the sunset on the boat on the way back to the port.
In Santa Cruz, there also the highlands worthwhile visiting. It not only gives you an amazing view from the entire island, but as it is a little cooler and more humid: the land is home to the famous Giant Tortoises. There are ranches you can visit where you can enjoy the natural habitat of these Tortoises and a guide will tell you the story of those beautiful creatures. In the afternoon, the tour continued to the Garrapatero beach, which is a rather small white sand beach. I did kayak for more than an hour exploring the bays, where it is forbidden for humans to access by feet those places as it a protected area.
I decided to visit the largest island of the Galapagos, Isabela Island. After a 2-hour trip by boat, I had the impression to be in a postal card view. The colors of the water were unreal! Together with the group, we visited the Giant Tortoise Breeding Center where they explained to use the process of breeding and their conservation and preservation efforts. We then visited a lake with Flamingos, that decided to start living there instead migrating every winter. At the end of the day we enjoyed snorkeling in a bay, it was beautiful. Next time I go back, I’ll visit the spectacular volcano and Las Grietas where is one of the best places in the Galapagos to snorkel.
Another activity that you can’t miss is the Darwin Center! Together with the guided group, we walked around and got a better insight on Darwin’s theory and what kind of species he was comparing. In the center, there are some rare species they desperately try to preserve. In the afternoon, we enjoyed snorkeling around on a beach in the actual center.
Galapagos Islands, Santa Cruz
I got the chance to be part of the Pinson tour. It’s a chance because there is only one boat per day with 10 people maximum that gets the opportunity to do the tour. It means that for the entire day, you won’t see any other boat on your trajectory, and you’ll be the only ones enjoying the different islands you visit. This day, I got the chance to swim with sea lions, penguins, and turtles. It was absolutely fantastic! We did a beach landing and got free time to enjoy the beach where there were only us. We could see on the sand the pathways of the sea turtles going in the land to set up their nests.
My last experience, was scuba diving. I didn’t have my license so I did a discovery day where we had instructors showing everything you need to know and assist you constantly. The day was absolutely perfect. We went first for scuba diving in North Seymour and then scuba dived for 45 minutes. The water was crystal clear and the visibility was incredible! We swam with white-tipped sharks, beautiful fish, turtles. We saw Batoidea, commonly known as Rays. There are such beautiful creators and the expert eyes of our guides were needed in order to find them.