These islands had been on my bucket list for decades. Time and price had held me back to some extent but with the threat of climate change looming I decided I had better go sooner than later.
I chose to stay on land instead of booking a cruise allowing me to do some of the sites on my own and then taking day trips on small boats going to islands that would give me the best chance of seeing the animals (and fish) that I most wanted to see. This option was also less expensive.
I could have saved even more money if I had waited until arrival to book the boat trips. One could save up to 50% if you were flexible and willing to fill up spots on tours at the last-minute. I didn’t want to chance it since I only had four days. One could also save this much buying air tickets in Quito instead of 0nline…again, I no longer take those risks.
I stayed at a great mid-range hostel called Colima Galapagos on Santa Cruz in the town of Puerto Ayora. This island is home to both the famed Darwin Station and many land tortoises, marine iguanas, and various birds. There was plenty to explore right here for the first two days and then the last two full days were spent on different boats going to other islands for snorkeling, hiking and lunching.
Much to my delight I saw a pilot whale and jumping manta rays on the way the first day, then hiked among the land iguanas, marine iguanas and a few of the hybrids. I also saw the blue footed booby and frigatebirds among many others. Snorkeling that day I met a white-tipped reef shark and a plethora of colorful and sized fish.
Pelicans and sea lions were plentiful everywhere but as I live in San Diego I wasn’t as thrilled with them. (spoiled I know) The second outing involved a pod of dolphins swimming with the boat in addition to another school of the largest manta rays I’ve ever seen. That day I snorkeled with a big sea turtle feeding under me. Awesome.