Wow, what a week! After exploring Santa Cruz Island more, going to Floreana Island and ending the week with four amazing dives, I am happy and exhausted. I savored the moments and I now feel like going back to the US in a week wont be as hard.
In our time on Santa Cruz before the diving trip, we explored Tortuga Bay and Las Grietas. The walk to Tortuga Bay is beautiful and lined with these crazy tall cactuses, called Opuntia.
The beach at Tortuga Bay is unlike many beaches in the Galapagos because it is so long. It reminded me of the beaches in California, only with mangroves and marine iguanas. At the end of the beach there is a perfectly calm bay that many people swim around in.
To get to Las Grietas, you have to take a water taxi across the bay in Puerto Ayora, the main town in Santa Cruz. Then you walk past all of the incredibly fancy hotels on the Island and this beach, Playa Aleman. It looks like a tropical paradise and we stayed here for a few hours after we went to Las Grietas.
This is looking down from above at Las Grietas. The water is refreshingly chilly after a long walk and the cliffs that surround the water create interesting shadows on the rocks below. It was once possible to cliff jump here, but it is no longer allowed and they have a park guide standing watch at all times.
On Sunday we went to Floreana Island. It is one of the four populated Islands, but only has 140 or so residents. This is where my host mom grew up, so it was fun to see while thinking of her.
Our boat ride there took longer than expected (the seas have been really rough lately), so our tour was rushed at the beginning. We quickly walked through this black sand beach on our way to snorkel.
The snorkeling wasn’t my favorite, but by now it we are hard to impress considering all of the snorkeling we have done. Afterward, we walked up to a lookout spot to see the view. It was incredible.
After lunch we went to see the giant tortoises. They were all feeling quite frisky that day and love was in the air.
Following the trail we ended up at the Pirate Caves, where pirates used to come for fresh water and to stay overnight.
The pirates also carved faces like this one into the rocks.
Near the pirate caves is this house. The first German settlement on the Island. The history of Floreana Island is very interesting regarding the people that first settled in this area. It is summed up in the book and film called “The Galapagos Affair: Satan Comes to Eden.” If you ever get the chance to read the book or watch the film, it is an interesting story. Our guide told us that the family are now millionaires because of all of the farms they own.
After our trip to Floreana, the rest of the class joined us in Santa Cruz for our final dive trip. We got to go out on this sail boat and we had so much fun! It is a different to SCUBA dive off of a sailboat instead of a diving boat.
The first day we dove at North Seymour where we saw probably twenty White-Tipped Reef Sharks. I had only seen them snorkeling before and it was incredible to be close to them in their caves. Our second day of diving was spent at both Daphne Major and Daphne Minor. The topography of Daphne Major was spectacular. The Pencil Urchins had carved holes in the rocks making perfectly circular windows in the algae covered outcrops. Here we also saw white urchins, sea cucumbers and many sea stars.
It was a great way to end our diving in the Galapagos and a great week soaking in the beauty of the other islands. It is hard to imagine that our time here is almost up. I will miss laughing until I cry with my classmates at dinner and on boats, and I will miss exploring the unique flora and fauna of the Galapagos. This last week will not only be spent writing our final papers, but also packing in as many final activities as possible!
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<p>Hello! My name is Holly and I love nature and the ocean. For four months I will be studying Marine Ecology in the Galapagos Islands. I can't wait study, live and explore one of the most beautiful and wild places in the world. Adventure awaits!</p>