There’s nowhere in the world quite like the Galapagos Islands in Ecuador. It’s famed for inspiring Darwin’s Theory of Evolution because of its rich biodiversity. Naturalists flock here from all over the world to watch some of the rarest birds on Earth, while divers ply its deep blue depths to swim with endangered sharks, dophins and whales.
We’d taken a short flight from Guayaquil to the archipelago. And to give you an idea of how far the islands spread, it can take up to 3-4 hours to get from one island to another by speedboat.
But the minute we stepped onto San Cristobal, we came face to face into a colony of sea lions so comfortable in their habitat that they’d nap on brightly-coloured benches, and wait patiently for fish guts at the local wet market. They were absurdly friendly.
The best part of the island has got to be its sheer proximity to wildlife!
While snorkelling and diving, we could swim up to giant sea turtles, sea lions, sharks and even golden rays!
We could even spot little penguins everywhere. Whether we were on boats out at sea, by the harbour through crystal clear waters, it was amazing how close we could get to animals we’d normally never find in the tropics except for in zoos.
I must say though that the water was much colder than we went around August. So expect temperatures to reach about 16-17 degrees Celsius. It’s totally manageable for a short dip, but for long dives, definitely wear a full body wetsuit to stay warm and make the most of your trip.
While snorkelling, we spotted a school of golden rays..
and were even stalked by some black tip reef sharks! It was my first time swimming with sharks (however harmless) and it was really quite exhilarating.
I really appreciate Sean so much for always being patient with me as I slowly overcame my fear of swimming in the ocean and murky water. I’d always had a bit of a phobia of swimming in the sea especially when I can’t see what’s around me (no thanks to childhood Jaws movies).
But he was the one who held my hand, taught me how to breathe easy when snorkelling and showed me that no underwater creature would hurt me if I respected its space.
Naturally, being surrounded by an abundance of marine life, the seafood should’ve been nothing short of fantastic. And it WAS. Just look at this.
From tuna tatare, to grilled buttery lobsters, to tangy milky ceviches, we tucked in and got our hands dirty with all the juicy harvest of the sea.
They also served plantains a lot, kind of like an Ecuadorian alternative to fries. And it’s really starchy and satisfying, especially after a whole day out at sea.
The amount of lobster we ate in that week was just astounding. I don’t believe we’d ever get to indulge in something so decadent at nearly every meal anywhere else in the world!
But despite its reputation as being a price-y place to vacation, the people on Galapagos were super down-to-earth and gracious hosts. There was hardly anything ostentatious or touristy about many of the main islands. And we got to enjoy some of its local culture and way of life as well.
From this man here handing out colourful ice balls to the local kids, to night-time soccer matches on the streets..
and these spectacular sunsets at sea after a long day frolicking with sea lions in the water.
In a way, it was truly island life at its finest. Not in the luxurious, exciting, tourist-friendly way of Bali or Phuket. But I adored its natural beauty, untouched biodiversity and the charming simplicity of the Ecuadorian way of life.