You are here

Island Hopping for Spring Break

April 6, 2019

As a part of the IES Abroad program, during our spring break, an opportunity for a getaway vacation was graciously given to us. Naturally and thankfully, this just meant traveling from one tropical island to several other tropical islands. Throughout this week, I was able to visit the islands of Floreana, Isabela, and Santa Cruz. It was fascinating to observe the subtle yet distinctive differences between these islands, since that is really what makes them so intriguing to humans in the first place.

Our first destination was a brief stop to Isla Floreana. Here, the ratio of marine iguanas to humans is probably around 30,000,000 to 1, as really only a handful of families live on this island. We first took a chiva up to the highlands to visit the tortoise breeding facilities there. I still can’t truly conceive the fact that these creatures exist, not to mention that they roam freely outside the walls of places like this. They are just so large and clumsy. It’s a miracle that they can even move, but I love them even more for it. Additionally, our guide told us the spooky human history of this island, which includes a German Baroness and her two lovers (and their deaths), a philosopher and the wife he experimented on (and their deaths), a blind boy who was sent on a fishing trip (and his death, of course), and cannibalism (surprisingly, no one died here. I’m just kidding, it was cannibalism). Next, we went snorkeling at Playa Negra, an appropriately named beach due to its black sand. It was simply gorgeous and was lined with palm trees and picturesque volcanic rocks. The sea life was abundant, but the memories were even more abundant (I’m sorry, I’ll never be that cheesy again).

Next, we took a boat to Isabela, the largest island in the archipelago. I knew just from the first minutes that this would be my favorite island due solely to the fact that the bay was overlooked by about ten penguins. Out of all the things I expected to encounter in my life, wild penguins were very low on the list. I mean, I’m literally on the equator. Who put penguins on the equator?? Anyways, during our first full day, we hiked upon Volcán Sierra Negra, the second largest volcanic crater in the world. As an aspiring geologist, I could not hold in my excitement, especially considering that it had erupted just this past year. My friends could even tell how giddy I was to be here. On a similar note, we walked on and snorkeled at the túneles, a collection of lava tubes and formations created from immense volcanic activity. To be standing on top of the things I read about in textbooks in Cleveland will never cease to fascinate me. There were also the largest sea turtles I have ever seen here, munching on algae just feet away from us. Later on, we visited a little nearby islet called Tintoreras. The landscape was like no volcanic rocks I’d ever seen before. They stuck up like a field of miniature jagged cones that reminded me of the final battle scene of Avatar: The Last Airbender (if you know, you know). There were a bunch of baby marine iguanas cuddled up nearby, some no more than eight inches long, compared to the two or three feet of the adults. There was also a sliver of a canal, where young white-tip sharks casually passed back and forth beneath us. We snorkeled close by as well and were able to get absurdly close to sharks, rays, puffer fish, and octopi. The beach near Isabela’s largest town had the best beach I have been to so far. It was fine sand and spread for miles, and it allowed us to view what I can safely guarantee was the most captivating sunset in the history of the world.

We next traveled to Santa Cruz, the island with the largest human population of 20,000 residents or so. It was clearly more touristy than all the other islands combined. While we were here, we were able to visit the Charles Darwin Research Center, where there was a breeding center and museum as well as the stuffed remains of Lonesome George, the poster child (poster tortoise?) for conservation in the Galápagos. Additionally, we spent a day at Tortuga Bay, a serene location with literal piles of iguanas, active brown pelicans, and several baby black-tip sharks swimming right near the edge of the bay. Later, we ventured into Las Grietas, a narrow canyon-like volcanic formation filled with water and plenty of large fish, which confused us because it was nowhere near the ocean. I climbed probably way too high up the sharp walls to jump all the way down into the water, and I definitely didn’t cut myself a little bit.

I was going to say that this spring break was essential to help me relieve stress and prepare for the end of the semester, but then I remembered that I’m lucky enough to live in the freaking Galápagos Islands. Stress as a concept doesn’t necessarily exist here. Also, I don’t think I can ever be prepared to leave. After visiting three more of the other islands, my biggest takeaway is that the finches appeared slightly different from each other on each island. I wonder if anyone else has noticed that. I’m going to assume not and write a paper about it and maybe come up with a theory or two.

From Our Blogs

May 24 3:05pm

Day Trip to Haarlem

by Charlotte

As our time in Amsterdam winds down, we decided to take our last Netherlands day-trip to Haarlem, a city 15 minutes west by train. In Haarlem, we visited museums and a church, ate a delicious meal, and enjoyed the May sunshine.

Learn more
May 23 6:15pm

Departure Post

by Heather

Going home has been a bittersweet event. After almost four months, I am ready to see my family. However, I have made a lot of really good friends with people in my program and am sad to leave them.

Learn more
May 23 5:52pm

Last Days in Berlin

by Heather

My semester abroad is about to come to an end. I do not feel like I have done everything in Berlin, but that gives me an excuse to visit again. I have made some really good friends on the program and enjoyed traveling and exploring Berlin with them. 

Learn more
May 22 8:08pm

Pre-Departure for Summer Study Abroad in Japan

by Akina

I am Akina Obata, a design student at North Carolina State University and i am attending a language and culture summer program at Nanzan University in Nagoya, Japan.

Learn more
May 22 5:47pm

Paris on a Budget

by Heather

Our weekend agenda for Paris was a very ambitious one. It was definitely not a relaxing trip because we wanted to see so much. We walked around 15 miles every day and tried to get in as many sites as possible.

Learn more
May 22 8:03am

Living in The Dorm

by Lesli

Hi everyone,

Learn more