Cold in the water
It can be very cold in the water around Galapagos Islands, especially in June, July and August when I have visited, so when snorkeling it is good to wear a wetsuit. When I was on a cruise in June/July 2011 it was fine with a shortie and I could be in the water for an hour without problems. However, when I did another cruise in July 2013 I got very cold rapidly, even though I wore a shortie. I think it was colder in the water that year, but I was also skinnier and tired, so that probably made a difference too.
In 2014 I made three daytrips from Puerto Ayora which included snorkeling. Often snorkel equipment is included when going on such a tour, but not a wet suite. You can rent them from one of the dive shops and a shortie was $5 (July/August 2014). I decided that I didn’t want to spoil the snorkeling by being cold so I rented a thick wetsuit with long sleeves and legs, just in case. It was $10 per day. I rented the wet suite from Academy Bay Dive Centre on Av Charles Darwin. The first daytrip I did I had booked through them so there was no problem to rent the wetsuit. The other two tours I had booked at other tour operators, but it was okay to rent the wetsuit as long as I left my passport during the day as security.
There are ATMs in Puerto Ayora at a few places; next to the supermarket by the harbour, at Banco del Pasifico on Av Charles Darwin and at Banco Pichincha on Av Baltra. Usually they work but as anywhere else you can find machines that are temporary out of order.
If you plan to travel from Puerto Ayora to Isla Isabela you need to withdraw money before you go as there are no banks or ATMs on Isabela.
The last time I visited Galapagos Islands (2014) I had problems with my bank card. The chip was damaged and I couldn’t withdraw money, so I had to get money sent to me via Western Union. The Western Union office was not at the address mentioned on their web site. I was walking up and down the road Seymour asking several people. Finally I found the right building and there they told me that Western Union had moved to the store Bodega Blanca further down the road. It worked very well with the transfer, without any problems (which I had had in Quito and Panama).
Where is the beach?
One time when I came to Tortuga Bay to have a walk on the long beach I was very surprised to see that most of the beach was under water. The waves came all the way up to the fence by the sand dunes. You are not allowed to walk on the other side of the fence as that is protected area, because the turtles come up here to lay eggs. Well, it was possible to walk just next t the fence, but a few times I had to lift my bag so it didn’t get wet from the splash from the waves.
I guess it was spring high tide as it had been full moon, a very large and bright moon, the night before. Spring high tide occurs when the moon, the earth and the sun are in one line and the gravitational force become strong.
- National/State Park
Sending postcards from Puerto Ayora
It is expensive to buy stamps for postcards on Galapagos Islands (same price as in the rest of Ecuador though). For Europe the stamp for one postcard is $2.25 (July 2011), so make sure to bring a lot of cash to the post office if you have many postcards to mail.
And it can take a very long time before the postcards reach their destination. The postcards I mailed in Puerto Ayora didn’t arrive to their destination until almost two months after they were mailed. From Quito it only took about a week. Anyway I would prefer to receive a postcard from Galapagos which is also mailed there, even if it takes a long time.
Update: In 2013 the price for stamps (for a postcard to Europe) was $3, but in 2014 it had luckily decreased to $2.
What ever you do... Don't Drink the Water
I took 31 kids to the Galapagos Islands and we had a great time. However, 12 of my group got sick and we suspect it came from the water. Please be extra careful when traveling to this very special place.
- Family Travel
- Study Abroad