After arriving at Baltra airport, I made my way down to Santa Cruz Island, which is probably the busiest of all the islands. Puerto Ayora is the main tourist town on the island and a great jumping off place for Galápagos adventures. You can arrange many day tours here, visit the other inhabited islands via ferry as well as purchase last minute cruises in one of the man agencies. (Side note: Ecuador uses the USD).
As I mentioned this leg of my trip was not planned, but I did book two nights at a hostel (through booking.com) before arriving. I found two online resources regarding DIY Galapagos and last minute cruises. The first afternoon that I arrived, I wandered in and out of some of the tour agencies and asked questions about day trips. I also investigated the ferry options- it costs $30.00 USD each way, to DIY and visit San Cristobal, Isabela or Floreana (the only inhabited islands). However, you cannot go island hopping, you must return to Santa Cruz. So, if I wanted to go to San Cristobal and then to Isabella, I would first have to take the two hour ferry ride back to Santa Cruz and take an additional ferry to Isabela. There are many free walking, exploring and snorkeling opportunities. Yet, you must hire a tour guide to do 80% of activities in the Galapagos, simply because it is a national park and there are a lot of rules.
I knew I wanted to dive, so the first thing I did was book a diving trip, that included two dives and lunch for $175.00 to Las Moscaras and Seymoure Norte. Although I enjoyed the experience, the ocean water was cold, and despite wearing a semi-dry suit, I was flipping freezing by the end of the second dive. The ocean is quite choppy in much of the Galapagos, and depending on the size of the boat you are on, you might feel a lot of current and 'up and down' rocking on the water. (Many people get sick on the ferry ride from Santa Cruz to Isabela.) I swam alongside the dive master because I had not been diving in a year, and I only have about 5 dives under my belt. Also, I was informed that I could possibly see: sea turtles, black-tip sharks, white-tip sharks, hammerhead sharks, eagle and manta rays, barracuda and loads of fish on this trip. We saw ALL of the above, and I nearly lost it when the dive master pointed to his left and I saw not one but six sizable hammerheads. So, no, they aren't aggressive, but a shark (much larger than me) in its natural habitat, is freakin' scary if you have never experienced it before!
I also purchased a last minute Seymoure Norte tour from the Moonrise agency, and paid $160.00, which was full day and included lunch, a walk and snorkeling. Even though I had visited as a diver, it was completely different because this would include a land walking excursion, to see the nesting of the Blue-footed booby and the frigate birds. These colorful birds are so beautiful and allow you to approach within inches of them. I had an amazing day because I got to hang out with sea lions on the beach and the ocean! The sea lions swam with us and played with us in the water. It was incredible, they are so much like dogs. It made me miss my Billie, who was in my sissy's care, but I really enjoyed playing with these dogs of the sea.
I spent the rest of my time on Puerto Ayora wandering around, eating fish and lobster, eating ice cream at the Galapagos Deli on Tomas Ave. I also took a water taxi (80 cents!) to the German Beach and walked to Las Grietas, which is a swimming hole in a crevice of rock. You can jump into the water and snorkel around.
After much thought and questioning agencies, I booked a last minute cruise for 5 days, 4 nights for $900.00 at the Discovery Agency near the port. More about that in the next post.
The photos above were taken whilst I navigated by myself around the Galápagos via Puerto Ayora. The photos below were taken on a snorkel/walking excursion to Seymour Norte.
Hi, I'm Reverend J, a queer+ sober wanderer, activist, writer and ordained minister.