July 4 – 5
Happy Independence Day everyone!
Our ferry was supposed to leave Santa Cruz at 7am, but we didn’t actually get going until 7:45. It was like they had never loaded a bunch of people onto a boat before, even though they do it everyday. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ The ride was about 2 hrs and Ethan and I ended up in the two awkward seats behind he captain above everyone else. It was bumpy and my tummy did not enjoy it. We heard later that a few people got sick down below. Upon arriving at the dock, we had to pay $10 to get into the island (this fee is on top of the $30/ person ferry, plus you had to pay for a taxi boat to the ferry boat and then to the dock. Someone had posted online that the fee was $5/person about a month ago, so we were shocked and annoyed that the price had doubled. Ethan tried to ask them why we had to pay this fee, but they only spoke Spanish, so we paid them. We got our bags and made the short trek into town.
While we were walking a girl approached us asking if we had a hostel yet. We didn’t, but we also didn’t want to be talked into anything so we were apprehensive at first, but she seemed cool. She’s from Argentina and is staying on the island for a month. The owner of the hostel asked her to go out and try to get people to stay there. She was nice enough and not pushy so we went with her to check it out. We were really glad she was there to translate because the owner speaks zero English. The price was better than we expected so we decided to stay.
It was a gorgeous, sunny day, so after we got some lunch we went straight to the beach. Isabela is a much “beachier” place than Santa Cruz. Only a few of the roads are paved while most of them are sand. The feel is much more laid back and other than that $10 fee, we already liked it more than Santa Cruz. There are several hotels and restaurants right on the beach, which is easy to access and stretches on for maybe a mile. There are way less people here and it’s quiet and tranquil. And absolutely beautiful. The water is definitely not tropical paradise water and is a little chilly, but felt great under the hot sun. We swam around and tried to body surf some waves until we got tired.
We went back to the hostel to shower and change, then headed to check out a couple of the islands lagoons where you’re supposed to be able to see flamingos and iguanas. The first was a bit of a bust as it is basically in town. Only one flamingo way in the distance. The second is a sort of a network of lagoons and you walk along a boardwalk to get to them. We saw several flamingos and iguanas. I’ve actually never seen a flamingo in the wild so that was really neat. The boardwalk/ trail ends at a tortoise breeding center. You can see turtles of all sizes and we found it interesting that the turtles born recently will outlive us by like 100 years. That’s crazy!
We spent the rest of the afternoon walking around the little town and booking our tours for the next two days – a snorkeling trip and a volcano hike. We also booked our ferry for our return to Santa Cruz on Friday to catch our flight to mainland Ecuador. Dinner was pizza because I was too tired and hungry to attempt the local food. The pizza was delicious and, in my opinion, worth the $12 we paid for it.
We were up bright and early for our snorkel tour to a couple places on the island. We were picked up at 7:30 and went to the tour office where we met up with the others in our group, got wetsuits, and flippers. The weather was grey and misty which was kind of a bummer and made the boat ride really cold. On the way Ethan saw a giant manta near the surface and the boat driver stopped at this big rock to show us some sea lions and blue footed boobies. Very cool stuff. Our first stop was a protected bay/lagoon area called Cabo Rosa. We saw a school of golden stingrays almost right away, then several white tip Reef sharks, sea turtles, and parrot fish. The guide took us to these little caves where the sharks hang out. He had us hold our breath then he would push you down so you could see in. I didn’t go in the first one, but Ethan said the second one was wasn’t as dark so I took the plunge. It was dark until you got into the cave, then your eyes adjust and bam! Sharks! Like 2 ft from your face. It was a little freaky, but really neat. We saw the biggest sea turtle we’ve ever seen just munching away on some sea stuff as well. Then we saw the school of rays again as we were leaving – they swam right under me. So awesome.
The second location was called Los Tuneles (the tunnels) because of the tunnels created by lava like a bazillion years ago. It’s also a protected lagoon. As soon as we got in we were joined by a curious sea lion. He/she swam circles around us and showed off its superior swimming skills. It was really magical to watch. We swam through several of the tunnels, saw a blue spotted stingray, and more huge sea turtles. We only spent about 30 minutes there, then went back to the boat for lunch. Our last stop was to see the blue footed booby birds that are only found in the Galápagos. We saw a baby that was only a month old and was all fuzzy and white. So cute. The guide explained about their mating rituals and how both the male and female take care of the baby. Adorable.
On the way out of the lagoon we saw some penguins on the rocks and it was the cherry on top of an amazing day. These penguins are the only kind that live on the equator and I really wanted to adopt one. 😉 The boat ride back was just as bumpy as the way there and everyone was doing their best not to fall asleep.
Back on the island, the weather was still kinda crappy, but we went out to the beach anyway. Then it started raining so we went back to the hostel for a shower and nap. Later, we picked out some photos that the guide took at the tour office, ate dinner and dessert (treat yo self!) and relaxed in our room. Gotta rest up for the volcano hike!