Exploring Isabela Island in the Galapagos, Ecuador

Isabela Island in the GalapagosAt the main dock in Puerto Ayora, we took a water taxi to board our ferry to Isabela Island. We were surprised to find the boat, Gaby, was barely larger than the small boat that took us scuba diving the day prior. The boat was completely full with every inch of space occupied by bodies. They handed out life jackets to each passenger and we headed out to sea. About thirty minutes into the two hour journey, the captain slowed down the engines with a concerned look on his face. Galapagos inter island ferry engine repairAfter turning off the engines, he motioned for the passengers sitting along the back to move and he began to inspect one of the three engines. After a ten minute inspection, we noticed that the caption appeared to be changing filters. He put the engine back together and we again headed towards Isabela. About twenty minutes later, a different engine began smoking. Continue reading

Scuba Diving with Sharks in the Galapagos, Ecuador

Santa Cruz Island, Puerto Ayora HarborWe ended the Galapagos tour onboard Darwin Yacht before 10am in the town of Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz Island. We had a rough plan of staying in town for a few days to go scuba diving and then wanted to head to another inhabited island for exploring on our own. While walking the main street in town, we stopped at several scuba diving shops which all seemed very similar. We decided to focus on finding a place to stay and use wifi to research the different dive companies. I’m glad we did because several of the companies have very negative online reviews stating that safety was compromised. We found the top rated company, Tip Top Dive, which turned out to just be a training center but they recommended that we dive with Scuba Iguana. We signed up for a trip to Gordon Rocks leaving the following morning.

Gordon Rocks Dive SiteGordon Rocks is known for schools of hammerhead sharks and we were excited for the possibility to see some. We had about an hour ride to the dive site in a small speed boat. We first stopped at the Plaza Islands where we did a short dive to test our equipment. We were excited to learn that we would be in small groups with only four people per dive master. During the briefing for the dives, the dive masters informed us that they wanted to maximize down time so offered to share air with the first person to run low but that it was only an option, not a requirement. Neither Will or I considered this a safe practice but did not feel pressured to participate. Continue reading

Still Touring the Galapagos, Ecuador

Traveling around the world, Yacht Darwin in the GalapagosOur five day tour of the Galapagos Islands onboard Darwin Yacht started out with a bang! (Click here if you missed the first half of Touring the Galapagos) The fun continued with several more stops:

Day 3 Continued: Espanola

After lunch, Darwin motored to the other side of Espanola for our afternoon adventure. Along the way, we spotted a huge pod of dolphins and Captain changed our course so we would intersect them. As we became surrounded by the pod of hundreds, several dolphins swam into formation with the bow of the boat. It was amazing to watch them swim and jump out of the water in perfect speed with Darwin.

Albatross colony in the Galapagos IslandsWe made it to Punta Suarez where we went for an afternoon hike. When we landed, we immediately saw a baby sea lion nursing which Billy estimated was only a few days old. We continued on a trail where we found more baby sea lions, marine iguanas, a Galapagos mocking bird, and a Galapagos hawk. But the main attractions were the large colonies of albatrosses and nazca boobies. Nazca Boobies or Masked Boobies giving a rock giftWe sat for quite awhile watching the albatross landing zone. Several of the young birds were doing a courting dance where they find their mate for life (a process Billy said would take several months). We also witnessed the nazca boobies courtship where the males present rocks as gifts to his partner for life. It was amazing to stand only Continue reading

Touring the Galapagos, Ecuador

Flying over volcano to the Galapagos IslandsWe arrived in Quito‘s airport bright and early for our 8:00 flight to the Galapagos. Thankful the tourist agent gave a complete description of the special process because signs were lacking, we got in line for the extra Galapagos check and processing before checking-in with the airline. The two flights on LAN were uneventful but it made us wonder if stopping in Quito was necessary. There are rarely direct flights from Quito to the Galapagos and upon arriving in the Galapagos we saw that any traveler could just show up, make their way to town, and grab a hostel (contrary to needing a guide for everything as we had heard from family members).

Exiting the airport, we found a tour guide holding a “Darwin Yacht” sign Continue reading