Friday, August 19, 2016

Galapagos: Santa Cruz

On August 1st we ate breakfast at the hotel and then were taken to get on a boat that would take us to another island, Santa Cruz. The itinerary from the travel agent describe this as "a wonderful experience going by yacht to the island of Santa Cruz" so we were all pretty excited about it. Well, it didn't take us too long to figure the boat we would be on was by no means a yacht. It was a water taxi with 20 people on it and it lasted TWO HOURS!!! It wasn't a horrible boat, but it wasn't very big and I was definitely nervous as we were out in the middle of the ocean with no land in sight for a good portion of the ride. We passed a smaller island at one point and as we approached I was excited that the ride would soon be over so it was very sad that we kept speeding right by it. At one point we passed a weird raft in the water that was attached some other floating device. I actually had noticed it and wondered what it was but then we turned around and they pulled it onto our boat! It was super weird and Mike and I definitely felt like it was straight out of an episode of LOST haha! We still don't know what it was, but it was a nice little break :-). I have never been more excited to see a harbor as I was when we caught our first glimpse of Santa Cruz! We made it to the island alive! (I emailed our travel agent about this when we returned and he had forgotten to change that part of our itinerary when I asked him to cut down on costs from the trip initially)
We were picked up and taken straight to the Charles Darwin Research Station. After our wonderful experience at the research station in San Cristobal the day before this was actually a disappointment as well. Almost all of the station was closed for renovation and the tortoises there seemed very confined, more like a small zoo. We were taken to our hotel, Hotel Fiesta, which was very cute, but our rooms weren't ready yet. At this point I was feeling pretty frustrated and wishing we had stayed on the other island that we loved so much.
The kids were starving so we went for a little walk to find some chips for them and ended up coming across Laguna las Ninfas which was a very pretty and peaceful and we spotted quite a bit of wildlife there. It was just the boost I needed personally :-). Eventually we got to settle into our rooms a bit and the hotel provided us with a delicious lunch that everyone loved.
After we ate we were picked up and taken to Tortuga Bay. It is quite a walk to get back to this beach but very interesting because of all the crazy looking cactus plants that were endemic to that island. Darwin finches and lava lizards were everywhere as well so that kept the kids distracted as we walked. The beach itself was gorgeous. We weren't allowed to swim there because of the currents but the sand was sugar soft and we spotted quite a few sea turtles hanging out. The kids were walking in the shallow water when we spotted a little shark swimming (it almost ran into Preston) and Addie took off trying to catch it...she is crazy.
We turned and went around a bend and came out by the most calm and peaceful beach with no waves at all. The water was much warmer than any other we had been to and the kids loved playing here. We would have happily hung out here for much longer but needed to be sure to make the walk back before it got too dark.
It was nice to end the day on such a high note, especially because it was our last one in the Galapagos before heading back to the mainland in the morning.
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this sea lion was hilarious checking out all our bags
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the other little island we passed, Santa Fe
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this whole bus for our family and one older couple
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another pouty Preston picture...it's hard to be little sometimes
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in the lab
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"super Diego"
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lots of Mockingbirds and they would get so close to us
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It was fun to see the differences in the lava lizards and iguanas here
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overall Santa Cruz felt like another Caribbean island town we have been to and was much more touristy which I didn't love
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Addie is convinced we saw a mangrove finch, a very rare species that they are trying to help increase in numbers on the island.
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view from one of the rooms. our bungalow is the one straight across on the very left. The girls stayed in this one and Preston came to the bungalow with Mike and I.
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map of the islands in reception area
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I want to go back right now :-(!!!
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see the little sea turtle peaking his head out? And in the next picture you can see the bodies of three of them in the water. Mike really wanted to try snorkeling here, the turtles are smart to hang out where we can't swim :-)
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I started recording after we saw the shark in the water so I missed the exciting part of it :-)

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another turtle head in the distance
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