Island Hopping with IES Abroad

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Nicollee Hammer
March 24, 2024
We saw turtles, sharks, pufferfish, and more all by just looking from above into the crystal clear waters!

After finishing our third class of the semester we finally had a break from school! Although it feels like time’s flying and I’m more than halfway done with the semester, I was so excited to visit the other islands with IES Abroad and my classmates! We left on Saturday morning for Floreana island where only around 150 people live. Our group dropped off our things at a restaurant and loaded the open air chiva busses to visit our next destination, a Tortoise Sanctuary in the highlands where we walked beautiful wooded paths and saw many giant tortoises. Later on we returned to the restaurant to have a quick lunch and then headed to the black sand beach to relax for a bit before we took off on our next long boat ride to Isabela. 

That afternoon I was sitting up on top of our ferry with the captain and my friend when halfway through the boat ride to Isabela he shouted out that he saw dolphins somewhere ahead. We were all looking out to try and see them for ourselves but when we got a bit closer, I could tell that they weren’t dolphins but whales! It was the coolest moment of our whole island-hopping trip. The captain slowed down and let us observe them for a while since it was a once in a lifetime experience to see whales in Galapagos. I could tell that they were short-finned pilot whales when we got up close which was super cool.

A few hours later we arrived in Isabela to penguins and eagle rays everywhere as our boat pulled into the harbor. The water was a beautiful crystal blue, and we were all so excited to finally be off the boat for more than a few hours. We headed to the hotel to drop our things off then my friend and I immediately ran to the beach to watch the sunset. While we were swimming at sunset, I even saw a baby shark swimming around us it was so amazing! The next day we split up into groups and headed for a day trip to Los Túneles. We snorkeled at a few different places and got to see seahorses, penguins, fur seals, white-tip reef sharks, massive turtles, and I even saw an octopus!

The next morning, we prepared to hike Sierra Negra volcano on Isabela that’s last eruption was in 2018. Each viewpoint we stopped at along the hike left us all awestruck looking at the humongous craters and expanse of rock. The hike took 6 hours in total, so we were all exhausted after, but a group of us decided to go surfing immediately after we got back to the hotel. We returned right in time for dinner where we got to celebrate our last night with the group of students that were heading home to the states the next day. 

The day after, we headed back to Santa Cruz Island for a short stop before returning to San Cristobal, but my two friends and I decided to stay the rest of the week in Santa Cruz. We spent our next few days scuba diving, visiting Las Grietas and Tortuga Bay where we saw baby sharks and an octopus, and watching the sharks and rays swimming all around the pier. What a great week!

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Nicollee Hammer

I'm from Ohio but I've traveled since I was little so I've got to see many different countries and experience different perspectives and ways of life. I enjoy meeting new people and trying new things. I can't wait to see what Ecuador has to offer!

Home University:
Auburn University
Biological Sciences
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