Galapagos – Santa Cruz

Galapagos – Santa Cruz

Written by: Jessica

Every flight we found to the Galapagos routes you through either Quito or Guayaquil, Ecuador.  Our flight to Baltra Island, of the Galapagos, flew through Quito. It was a rush when we got to Quito because our flight from Lima was delayed by an hour; most of which was spent sitting on the plane. Thankfully customs on the mainland of Ecuador don’t take too long so we made it through with enough time to sit in a lounge for a little while before our flight. This was a bonus as it allowed us to have a free lunch.

Much better than the waiting area by the gate – and great WiFi speeds!
Choice of drinks and food, we had lunch here.

The Galapagos have their own customs to go through. First, before you get off the plane, they spray your overhead luggage with a WHO recommended pesticide. They do not spray you or the luggage at your feet. Then you get off the plane and venture into the airport, getting your first taste of the intensity of the sun. Inside, you form a line. If Quito was a layover, you get routed to a second line to buy your Transit Control Card ($20). You are then jostled to the front of the National Park entry fee line as the entirety of the islands is a National Park and is $100 per person to enter. Thankfully, for us, that didn’t require any conversions, as Ecuador uses U.S. currency. After all the passports and documents are checked, your bags then go through another x-ray machine.  Second set of customs in one day: cleared.

It’s much bigger than it seems, there are 3 boarding gates with plenty of souvenir shops inside.

From there, you exit the airport and catch a free bus to the port. At the port you will be asked to pay $1/person for a short ferry ride to Santa Cruz Island—there is nothing but the airport on Baltra. After that, there is then a bus ride for $2/person.  We picked the slowest bus, somehow. All the other buses passed us. It was supposed to be a 45 minute to an hour ride. It took two. And then a taxi ride into the city from the bus station at $1.50/person. It wasn’t that long a walk really, 2km or so, but the sun was brutal and we had all of our luggage with us, and no shade on the walk.

Have cash ready, $1/person. Always have cash in the Galapagos.

Arriving at our hotel, we discovered a few things. The internet is slower than dirt and credit card readers, when they have them, don’t work reliably. Still, we checked in, looked around, and then took off for an appointment.

Loading 2018 websites/content with 1995 speeds. THIS IS WHY WE HAVEN’T UPDATED ANYTHING FOR SO LONG!!!
Hotel looked pretty nice.
Good view – digging this place.
Only to be brought down (slightly) by such a bland room.

We had to check into the dive shop for our 2-tank SCUBA dive the following day. We had chosen Macarron’s Scuba and pre-booked online.  They fitted us with our wetsuits, boots, and fins, and got us all registered with our dive logs and PADI numbers, so we would be ready to go the following morning. We were requested to arrive by 6:50am. Afterward, we enjoyed a delicious dinner at La Garrapata, a local restaurant. While waiting for our food, the bar next door cut down some coconuts.  We got a free one, which Diego enjoyed.

Food was pretty good! Staff is friendly, located on the main walkway.
Owner decided to cut down some coconuts, I (Diego) talked my way into free drinks.

The next morning, we woke up and went to get our breakfast at 6:15. The lights weren’t on, though the kitchen was bustling. After knocking, we discovered something truly unfortunate: It was 5:15. Our phones did not auto-update and had the time zone wrong. We had gone to bed super early and woken up at 4:45am. Well, back to bed for a little more rest, before trying it over again. Bagged breakfast in hand, we walked toward the dive shop.

Our dive group consisted of two guides, the boat captain, and two other divers, girls from Brazil. Since I was the only one who didn’t speak Spanish, the guide explained everything in that language and Diego translated for me.  Our first dive was Seymour Canal.  We dove for 40 minutes, at a maximum depth of 16 meters (~50ft).  During that dive we saw black-tipped sharks, a hammerhead shark, along with varieties of fish and a ray.

A RAY!!! This is pretty cool to see right away. There was also a bunch of fish nearby.
There were quite a few sharks at the bottom. I (Diego) was terrified at first but they’re not that interested in us and just want an easy meal.

The second dive was at Mosquera North, and had the same depth, though we stayed under for 45 minutes.  This was the truly spectacular dive.  We saw a Green Sea Turtle, an eel, and whole schools of black-tipped sharks and rays. The sharks were curious about us and swam fairly closely until the guide decided they were getting a little too brave and used noise to scare them off.  We also saw three hammerheads on that dive. Visibility was great, about 15 meters (~48ft).  Diego was initially scared of the sharks, but quickly calmed down. After the dive, the whole group convened at a local restaurant for lunch and to exchange photographs.

The rest of the day consisted of some relaxation, then once the sun was less powerful, we slipped back out for dinner, and to walk around and enjoy the sights of Puerto Ayora, the main town on the island of Santa Cruz.

 

Lots of little shops selling their goods. You can haggle, but it’s not as prominent and you won’t get as much as Peru.
It gets a little lively at night, mostly shops.

It had only been two nights, but the next morning we were scheduled for a water ferry to take us to another island.

One Reply to “Galapagos – Santa Cruz”

  1. WOW, Beautiful pictures! And the ‘Fat Sharks’ and Manta Ray swimming around !….I can see Diego enjoying coconut water (and good food). You could call local internet – ‘lazynet’ or ‘snail-net’ … super slow. I remember that a H-D dealer in Ecuador mentioned something about local mosquitoes… are like ‘flying -sharks-vampires’. I hope they did not bother you guys.
    I can’t wait to hear the story of the other Galapagos island (Isabella)… The airport VIP lounges are fantastic !
    PS: Diego, o tubarão estava com sono? ou era gordo?… hehehehe

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