Today was the day we get to explore the very best activity on the Island of Isabela – ‘Los Tuneles’ or The Tunnels to me and you. Situated about a 40- 50-minute boat ride from Puerto Villamil is this outstanding spot for snorkeling, formed by convoluted lava formations standing between mangroves and the open sea. We had been told to look out white-tipped sharks, manta rays, eagle rays, sea lions, turtles and even seahorses in the shallows, so needless to say we were very excited.
We booked this through Jackson our host for $110USD pp and over in Santa Cruz they can charge upwards of $150+ pp so make sure to book after arriving into Isabela so you don’t get ripped off! Upon arriving at the Port I knew that the boat would again be tiny yet safe however feel dangerous A.F! I was right, however this time round I was really ill. It was hot inside and not much air flow at all and with all the bumping about I turned completely white, sweated profusely and nearly passed out. NOT A FUN 45 MINUTES.
We arrived at the areas for snorkeling and lucky for us was low tide (always try and book these trips during low tide). After a briefing from our guide we hopped in the water and started the 1-hour snorkeling adventure. Immediately we were surrounded by giant sea turtles – now, I have never swum with sea turtles, so this was an unbelievable experience for me, even though I am not a fan of being under the water I managed to snorkel well in open water for as long as the turtles would let me meander with them.
We were lucky enough to see seahorses, sharks in underwater caves, many turtles, beautiful tropical fish and even a sea snake on the way back to the boat, which by that time I was starting to freak out slightly as I was so cold. Being in the water for 1 hour really tires you out then mixed with the cold temperature I felt a panic attack coming on. These are very rare for me, but I just got scared, overwhelmed then realized I couldn’t breathe properly so Joel our lovely local guide had to assist me back to the boat as my pale purple sad sack of a body couldn’t go any further. Great fun though despite me being a complete wuss.
From there we headed to the next destination which was option of wet or dry – Hooray! There was no way I was getting back in the water after this morning’s antics. I was so embarrassed but luckily the walk over these beautiful formed lava tunnels was just as interesting as swimming through them, and I was able to check out the wildlife from above. Leo spent the time in the water and was able to explore more caves which was great, and I really hope despite my anxiety and panic’s he had a good day.
On the way back from the trip we spotted giant manta rays, and various marine birds including Blue footed boobies, pelicans and lots of Galapagos gulls. The trip itself was great and for the $110USD pp fee this includes the half day trip (7am – 2pm) the transport and some snacks and water along the way (a sandwich and cookies). We loved this trip and would definitely recommend it, we didn’t see as much wildlife as everyone we had spoken to about mentioned but it was still a fantastic way to experience this wildlife.
In the evening we headed to the ‘Pink Iguana’ with some of the travelers we met on the day trip. Now, if you are looking for a cool, beach vibe, chilled, hippy, laid back bar with fantastic sea and sunset views, then this is your place. And why is it called the Pink Iguana, well because the full bar is teaming with marine iguanas crawling on the floors, up the walls and as the bar is painted bright pink the contrast is amazing. There are also hammocks outside on the sand and they have a great happy hour (2 cocktails for $10USD) so it is an amazing spot to chill, watch the sunset and relax.
Dinner again was along the main restaurant strip but this time next to the Adventurer restaurant, even though we wanted to go there, it’s dead and looks unwelcoming so we chose the one next door, which turned out to be incredible. For $7.50USD pp we got a 3-course meal and juice! Definitely the best one yet and amazing to keep costs down when traveling.
Heading to Las Tintoreras in the morning which is and islet just 10 minutes off Isabela and is often called mini Galapagos since almost all the marine wildlife are here. There is actually more wildlife here than on the main island apparently so it’s off to bed for us!