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We were so excited... we were on our way to The Galapagos!! During our travels we did some amazing scuba diving, but Galapagos is the next level. All the 'big stuff' does exist here and especially the Hammerhead Sharks were still on our dive-bucketlist. Time to tick some great marine life of the list ;-)
Before heading to this beautiful archipelago we enjoyed a bit of the mainland in the biggest city of Ecuador: Guayaquil.
When travelling to Galapagos one of the main choices is booking a cruise or explore while based on the islands. We decided to go for the land-based option, because most cruises are without diving or diving only. We wanted a combination of diving, snorkeling, land tours and relaxing. It turned out to be the right choice for us!
We visited 3 island: Isla Santa Cruz, Isla Isabela and Isla San Cristobal. Island hopping is very easy as there are many boats between the islands. We didn't pre-book anything, which gave us the freedom to enjoy the flexibility and stay on islands longer.
Like most people we arrive on Isla Baltra (above Isla Santa Cruz) and Puerto Ayora on Isla Santa Cruz was our home base for more than 10 days. When not diving or on a day trip you could find us multiple times a day at 1835 Coffee Lab for coffee (grown on the Galapagos!) and a chat or Galapagos Deli for lunch. And never change a winning team, so every night we had the best dinner on the Galapagos at La Garapatta where Diego became our friend for life.
Everywhere in Galapagos, even in the villages itself, nature and amazing animals are close by. Sea lions and pelicans on the shore, sharks and rays near the jetties, marine iguanas and tortugas crossing the roads and plenty of birds around.
We had to wait a week for our first dive trip and took the 'taxi', a 2 hour boat ride, to Isla Isabela. This is the largest island and most of it is only accessible by boat. Puerto Villamil is a small and nice village on the south coast with a relaxed vibe with sea lions and marine iguanas as welcome committee. This village would be our base to explore the surroundings.
It's so cool to rent a bike and take tortuga road towards the wall of tears with many nice beaches on the way. While cycling through an amazing landscape, we bumped into the well-known Galapagos Tortugas many times! They are so big (and slow, haha).
One of the main attractions on Isla Isabela is the snorkel trip to Los Tunelos. We did the snorkel trip twice as we fully agree why it's the number one activity for the Galapagos in the Lonely Planet. Snorkeling between hundreds of turtles, lots of white and black tip reef sharks, rare sea horses and close to penguins and sea lions on the rocks, spotting the blue-footed boobies in a beautiful lava area and from the boat many manta rays cruising on the surface. This is wildlife paradise! And the best had yet to come...!
One of the endemic species: the Land Iguana.
After a great week on Isla Isabela, we travelled back to Isla Santa Cruz. We had to search a bit as there are many tour operators offering day trips, but most of them were either full or did not offer the area that we wanted to explore. But we managed to book a day trip to both Pinzon and Daphne Island. The conditions were perfect and playing with sea lions in crystal blue water is incredible. Watch the video here to see how fast and agile they are.
It was finally diving time. We booked several dive trips with Scuba Iguana to Seymour Channel, Punta Carrion, Seymour North and Gordon Rocks. We can highly recommend this dive operator!! Great staff and very professional.
We jumped in the water in Seymour channel for the first dive and it was more than we could have dreamed of. A Mola Mola (sunfish) and lots of Mobula Rays, Ealge Rays, Turtles, Black Tip reef sharks, White tips reef sharks, and finally... our first Hammerhead Sharks sighting! Whoohoo!
During the following dives we added Galapagos sharks, Golden Rays and Manta Rays to our list. And we saw more Hammerheads and every time a bit closer.
During our 4th dive with Scuba Iguana, this time at Gordon Rocks, our absolute dive-dream came true... While our group was focused on a Manta Ray, we stayed behind, looking 'into the blue' to find something else. And suddenly we were hanging in the middle of a large school of approx. 50 Hammerhead Sharks. What an experience! Linda was crying with happiness...
After this dive we decided to extend our stay and book more dives at Gordon Rocks. The next available trip was in a couple of days so we decided to go to Isla San Cristobal in the meantime. Another taxi-boat ride via Isla Santa Fe brought us in 2 hours to Puerto Baquerizo Moreno.
The island is not really a dive destination, but we were in the dive mood and booked a Kicker Rock trip. And we were so lucky again, hanging in the blue in the middle of a large school of Hammerhead, Galapagos and Black tip sharks!!!!
Back on Isla Santa Cruz we did our last dives at Gordon Rocks again. This time the conditions were completely different. It was a washing machine with strong currents all over the place. And strong currents means lots of big fish. Hanging on a rock we didn't know where to look and we saw our complete dive bucketlist over and over again. It's so cool to watch the Hammerheads and suddenly to see sea lions passing by from the left and then it becomes a bit darker because a 3 meter Mola Mola swims right above you followed by eagle rays under your fins and so on and on!
After our final dinner at La Garrapata and another cup of coffee at 1835 Coffee Lab, it was time to leave the beautiful Galapagos Islands and say goodbye to our new friends. But it's definitely not our last cup of coffee on the Galapagos... we will come back in the future. Wolf and Darwin Island with even more Hammerheads, Whale sharks, Orcas, Whales and other big stuff is waiting for us :) Until next time!