Visiting Galapagos islands for about 7 days. I did not read a lot upfront, e.g. weather, distances between islands, other island specifics, just bought a plane ticket, got a tip from a friend to go to Santa Cruz island / Puerto Ayora and explore from their by day trips.
So here comes my Galapagos itinerary and what I experienced during my one week on Galapagos.
I started with day trips from Santa Cruz to:
day 1. Arriving Santa Cruz by lunchtime, check-in, lunch and walk to Darwin Center and Darwin Beach
day 2. Scuba Diving day trip (Mosquera/ North Seymore) – back by 2.30pm, walk to Tortuga bay beach and Plays Mansa lagoon and detour by speed boat (fun through the wild sea). While diving we saw big classes of hammerhead sharks, galapagos sharks and eagle rays as well as green sea turtles and all kind of smaller fish, a morena, … (separate post on the scuba dive will follow)
day 3. Plazas Island daytrip: snorkling with white tip sharks, various birds, land iguanas, sea lions on Plazas. The succulent plants change their color during seasons – now a beautiful red / orange. Perfect contrast to blue sky / sea.
day 4. Santa Fe Island daytrip: snorkeling with green turtles, sealions in a beautiful bay and fishing chinese plastic garbage off the ocean while snorkeling along the cliffs.
day 5. Seymore Norde Island daytrip: short snorkel with not much to see (ocean visibility was generally not so good), walking and exploring the island and all its birds (fragates, blue foot boobies, …)
day 6. Ferry to Isabela Island for 2/2 (D/N): lunch at Casata Rosada, bike rental for a 6km ride along the beach to wall of tears (muro de las lagrimas), lagoon with 5 (!!) flamingos, camino de tortoise, a mirador at the very end of the trail with lovely view over the southern part of Isabela, and finishing this wonderful day off with a perfect sundowner again at Casata Rosada.
day 7. Isabela / Los tunelos day trip: by boat passing the rock Rica Union, snorkel in a bay along mangrove trees – watching big sea horses and white tip sharks. Later snorkeling in lava tunnels of los tunelos: wow! experiencing the under- and above-water lava formations, together with turtles, eagle rays and manta rays.
day 8. Return flight Isabela to Baltra (interisland, in a super small, 10 seat plane gives a special view on the islands shaped by volcanic activities). Then back to mainland, to Guayaquil.
It’s been a very special journey, I really enjoyed the trip and got what I wanted: My dive, seeing all kinds of wildlife and various vulcanic landscapes – thanks to los tunelos even their underwater structure. Most astonishing to me was the proximity of the animals and their amazing adaptation to their natural environment.
And due to the incident with the Chinese vessel (tons of killed hammerhead sharks and plastic garbage in the sea) I realized first hand, that even being 97% a protected national park doesn’t prevent this paradise from being endangered at all times.
What would I do differently?
Go in spring (April/May) or autumn (November/October) – its warmer, especially the ocean and thus more relaxed for snorkeling, but not as hot as in summer. (Dec/Jan/Feb)
I would book a short cruise (although its expensive, but everything here is expensive anyway) for a few days. Cruises are a different way to explore the islands, visit sights that are not accessible by daytours and travel the distances between then islands mostly overnight. Cruises are more suited for traveling with partner / friends – since being on a 20 people boat with the wrong people can mess up the
whole journey 😉 So combining e.g. a 5 day cruise with 1-2 day tours (on Santa Cruz or Isabela) and if you dive a one day dive-trip seems like a good idea.
But it’s important to check cruise itineraries carefully to not pay all the money for things you actually can do on your own (like Tortuga Bay and Darwin research center on Santa Cruz)!
Btw; did not expect to met any solo travelers here… but I did: thanks for the cool times Jim, Claudia, Daniela – cu!