Santa Cruz is the bigger and busier of the Galápagos Islands… More touristic, giant tortoises, sea lions, plenty of diving and a tad more social.
Sitting at the back of a 2 hour water taxi has me absolutely drenched. A short walk and I’m at hostel Crossman. I’ve booked here purely because it’s semi central and has a kitchen. Cooking is a homely comfort I’m enjoying.
Mika, a girl from the hostel, has been working with some guys are creating a film about the Galapagos islands. She invites me along while they film content at Playa Alemania aka German Beach. We get free water taxis and use of the kayaks. A fun afternoon, and an open plan for tomorrow.
Sun comes out play! Time to explore Tortuga Bay. A 2.5km path leads to Tortuga. At one end of the bay you can surf and at the other, you can snorkel around and swim with salt spitting marine iguanas endemic to the island.
Back at the hostel, Tom, who I met from diving on San Cristóbal, arrives to stay a night before transiting to Isabella island. He sits and talks with an Italian dude he’s befriended.
Diving is booked in for Friday & Saturday. A long night run to cap off another day in the Galapagos.
To reach diving sites Seymour and Daphne, I’m driven across the island, near Baltra, where our dive boat is moored. Joel, all of 21, is our dive master and instructor. The dives are ok… visibility is average to poor… swimming with the sea lions is the highlight. They’re so playful and inquisitive. Other marine life includes turtles, a nudibranch, Gordon rays, sea worm garden, reef sharks but no hammer heads. Kind of bummed out about that… above water, the famous blue footed boobies perch on the shit splattered cliffs they call home.
Afternoon run to Tortuga Bay tires me out for the night.
Diving Gordon Rocks today with Adrienne and Maude (French Swisse couple) and a local restaurant owner, Fernando. The group is super chill and we all get along. For the second day, it’s raining yet an hour drive across to the other side of the island, the sun is out. Fingers crossed for hammer head sharks.
Gordon Rocks is a well known dive site off of Santa Cruz. Typically, you need a minimum amount of 40 dives to go as the area is exposed to strong currents.
The first dive starts with turtles and ends with hammer heads! Finally! So stoked. Three or more swimming in towards the coral bank.
Second dive isn’t as fruitful due to the water being so cold but ends in a drift dive, surfing the current with numerous turtles and getting shot out between rock formations into the big blue before our safety stop. Extremely fun way to end the dive. Number of dives – 69.
Lazing around the boat after lunch, we make plans to see each other again tonight.
At my hostel, Simonne, a Dutch girl in the dorm has returned from Isabella Island. I met her a few days ago and she’s keen to see the giant tortoises tomorrow.
Desalted, Adrienne, Maude and I go to Fernando’s restaurant, La Casita for dinner. Fernando is an artist, creating everything from the plates/ bowls to the seat covers, using the fabric of his business partners grandmothers clothes. It’s a thoughtfully decorated, quirky and cool place… the food is muy bien. Fernando makes me a cherry infused gin cocktail with lemon grass and cardamom. Best drink I’ve had in the last couple of months or more.
Friends of Fernando are having a cocktail tasting at their new bar. It’s not open to the public but free creative cocktails; yes please. Adrienne, Maude and I are grateful for the invite. We move on to Bongo, a regatón club and dance from the night, into the morning. 4am and I’ve been walked home and put to bed.
Waking a bit saucey from last night/ morning, I bite the bullet and book a flight back to the mainland for tomorrow. The only thing left to see now is the tortoises.
Catching a local bus to the town of Santa Rosa, I sit on Simonne’s lap. From Santa Rosa town, we plan to walk to La Chuga, a giant tortoise reserve. The road is muddy, the sky is grey and a light drizzle of rain begins. Music and noise is coming from the town centre where some kinda of fiesta is taking place.
In flip flops, a men’s singlet and shirt, I’m not entirely dressed for the occasion. Doesn’t stop me from committing tortoise trespassing, ducking under fences to get up close and personal with these giant dinosaurs. Back in town, sporting mud splattered legs and clothes, we fill up on dos empanadas and watch the local fiesta. Horse racing through in the middle of town, egg catching contests, bulk food and bull riding. It’s a thoroughly enjoyable day in good countryside and good company.
Fly out day tomorrow!