From Santa Cruz we decided to take a day trip to one of the lesser inhabited islands, Floreana. We had heard good things about this small island with only 150 people and knew it was also quite a commonly visited place. The tour ran from 8am until 4pm, and cost us $75 pp. This is a price we negotiated down and it included rental of wet suits, fins and masks, as well as lunch on the island.
We met our guide on Puerto Ayora and headed off on our 2 hr boat ride to Floreana. If you are not good on boats, like myself, make sure you get yourself some Mareol tablets from the pharmacy before heading out, as the waters can get quite choppy. Also, despite the temperature not being very high, you can easily burn when sat on the back of the boat in the sun.
Upon arrival to the island we headed off on a chiva bus to Cerro Allieri, a 300m high crater’s edge. We climbed up to the top and enjoyed views of the surrounding scenery. Following our little walk we headed off to the tortoise centre, where we could observe the giant Floreana tortoises.
One of the most interesting parts of the walk were the famous pirate caves, known as Asilo de la Paz. Apparently, back in the day the pirates would use Floreana as a “rest and re-fuel” area, stocking up on supplies but also depositing their treasures. Due to the lava eruptions that first formed the island, Floreana now has a very strange set of mini canyons and coves.
These formations proved excellent for literally allowing the pirates to have safety deposit boxes by creating holes in the walls and then cordoning off each area with stone walls. Whereas the coves provided an ideal area to sleep allowing them to be kept out of the elements but still have a view of their docks and boats. As demonstrated by our guide.
After our walk around the island we were taken back for lunch at a restaurant near the port and enjoyed a good lunch of fish and rice. We were then ready to return on the boat for a short snorkelling trip from off the coast. There wasn’t a huge variety in terms of fish in the water and we were not overly impressed, until we looked down again and came face-to-face with a sea lion!
It was an amazing experience to have this beautiful animal swim around us as we desperately tried to take photos with a disposable camera! The sea lion seemed as curious of us as we were of it, and it spent a good 5 minutes roaming around staring at us. One of the best moments was when it seemed to sit at the bottom and just gaze at us, seemingly thinking what strange creatures these are!
This was our first trip off Santa Cruz and the tour itself did not leave us in awe, the caves were interesting, but if it hadn’t been for the sea lion at the end we would have been fairly disappointed. Luckily, the rest of our day trips proved to be more what we had in mind.