READY TO SCRATCH THIS ONE OFF YOUR SUP BUCKET LIST ? Lets do it with style.
One thousand kilometers away from the coast of South America under the hot equatorial sun, a cluster of islands has formed one of the most stunning places on earth. The Isolation of this place has allowed some species of birds and reptiles to evolve and adapt to live on the ever eroding volcanic environment of the Islands. Not exactly a friendly place to live in, rather a harsh place to call home.
About four million years ago,volcanos formed thousands of Islands in this area but now only 19 remain above the surface of the Pacific and the rest have been pushed again back under water as the Earth’s tectonic plates keep moving about an inch every year or 25 km in a million years. Only 5 of these Islands are populated. Don’t worry, they’ll be there for awhile, but maybe they’ll belong to China if you wait too long.
About 200 years ago Darwin arrived here and came up with the Evolution Theory and documented one of the most extraordinary collection of creatures on the planet . What makes this place so unique is the unrivaled number of animal species found here. The abundance of these waters provide massive amounts of food to sustain an incredible community of marine inhabitants in this region. Influenced by several underwater marine current systems converging here, the perfect conditions for magic happen.
Exploring these islands on a SUP gives you freedom to roam, and explore the Islands from a unique perspective. Had Darwin had a SUP 200 years ago, he would have had a much better time observing these animals! You will see more animals while on your SUP than anyone else because of the vantage point it allows you. You are standing up over the water, able to spot Marine wildlife easier than kayaking and if standing seems unsteady to you, move down to your knees and your expansive visibility remains . Bring your snorkel mask along for a jump in the water to have another spectacle showcased before you as the underwater world reveals itself.
Besides being named one of The Greatest Natural Wonders in this disappearing planet, it has also been called, “Nature’s greatest experiment,” and that is what you will witness here. Evolution and adaptation happens right in front of your eyes. Life screams at you everywhere you look.
The Galapagos archipelago is a supremely beautiful place; white sandy beaches freckled with animals, crystal blue water thick with fish, and several world class reef brakes . A dreamy place to SUP for sure. You won’t believe what your eyes see sometimes as you find yourself playing amongst one of the most diverse marine ecosystems on earth. It is common to see large schools of marine life, including sharks of all kinds, but especially the hammerhead, Manta rays, golden and eagle rays, dolphins, and whales, depending what time of the year you are there. Turtles and iguanas inhabit the islands in such large quantities that you cannot help but be reminded that this place belongs to them and you are just a visitor. The blue footed boobies diving kamikaze style for their food is always a spectacular stunt to witness. The Frigates with their delicate and elegant flying skills decorate the sky and it is cool to spot the birds nesting on the cliffs along the ocean front. Young sea lions are curious and bold, if given a chance they will hop on your deck. They love to escort you and say hi when they see you paddling on the water. You want to avoid encounters with the big males or a female with a cub as you could end up getting chased after having trespassed their territory with or without knowing. Being the most important National Park in Ecuador, Galapagos is also the most controlled one, and having the ability to cover several miles along the coast when SUP touring gives you a unique perspective of the Islands and where you are (a volcano in the middle of the Pacific Ocean). Three hundred fifty years ago they were known as the Enchanted Islands or “where the world ends.” A good place to hide if you where a pirate trying to get away and a good place to refill water and hunt and gather provisions before heading out again to sea. Today, they are an escape, a dessert for the eyes, and will leave you thirsty for more.
There are two main airports in Galapagos, receiving 3 regular flights a day in low season and double that in high season. Your options to fly here are from Quito or Guayaquil. There are many options of traversing the islands but one preferred way is to arrive into San Cristobal and depart from Santa Cruz or visa versa, that way you don’t need to back track and are allowed more time on each Island, drinking up its unique charm. Isabela, Santa Cruz, and San Cristobal are three islands that you will want to make a point on visiting and have a couple days to appreciate each. It used to be that a cruise was the only way to visit all 3 islands, now island hopping is the way to go. Infrastructure on the Islands offer all types of accommodations and services, good hotels and great restaurants. To get from one Island to another you can go for a $40 boat ride, or hire a $600 airplane charter for four from Cristobal to Isabela and check out the islands from the air; the views will not disappoint. The boat rides can be pretty brutal if you go against the wind and if you are not used to open seas, but it only lasts 2 hours and plastic bags are available in case of emergency.
San Cristobal is quiet and has a chill vibe compared to Santa Cruz, which is the largest town in the Archipelago, a good spot for some cosmopolitan experience at one of the local fusion restaurants. Everything is brought by plane or boat to the islands so it makes it more expensive than the mainland. Isabela is a little out of the way but it may be the highlight for many. After all, you don’t snorkel with sharks and swim with penguins every day and SUP with baby sea lions swimming next to you. I know some people that would love to SUP downwind carbon boards here. That is the next ultimate Galapagos adventure, Island crossing. SUP is just being born here and after a bit of a battle, is now recognized as a legit activity by the National Park.
Remember to bring plenty of sun screen. The equatorial sun burns hot here and you can injure yourself if not careful. Bringing your own snorkel mask is a big plus as half of your adventure is actually beneath the surface, and your SUP makes it easy to migrate in and out of the water. It’s totally acceptable to wear a shirt reading “I love boobies!” above two blue webbed feet after this adventure!
Wind and swells can be strong and waves can get quite big. December through February is when the big North swells are expected and surfers from all over the world who have been patiently waiting for these waves to appear, arrive. Of all the epic surfing locations I have seen, this is the only one where the crowds on the beach are the animals and the people are rare. If the North swell does not put out then the South swell may be in. Either way, Galapagos does not lack waves. Several points and beach brakes are accessible to surfers within walking distance from town and you can always hire a guide with a boat to go explore some of the more remote brakes, but the seclusion of the place makes it a treat to explore on your own, so hiring some local knowledge is highly recommended.
Upon arrival to Galapagos, you will pay $100 fee to enter the National Park. This will allow you to use all of the interpretation centers and visit the museums as well as gives you access to the educational wildlife centers where you can view the baby tortoises and learn about how they are reintroduced into the wild. These centers are a true gift to the islands and you will find them interesting and increase your knowledge and gratitude of the amazing place you are visiting.
The best way to experience Galapagos is on a stylish 7 days deluxe expedition with everything inclusive from NEOTROPIC EXPEDITIONS, or book a day trip at your destination from www.supgalapagos.com in any of the Three main Islands , or rent a board in Santa Cruz for 50$ a day at Lonesome George Hostal and Surf Shop, Victor will point you the right way. Everything works with US Dollar as the main currency and is up to you what budget you looking to have and the time frame. January through June is hot and wet, meaning that rains are expected but sunshine will come out to scorch the rocks and make it HOT, the rest of the year is a misty coverage and it can get a little cooler than you think it gets here and wetsuits are needed when the Humboldt current is running through.
The availability of fresh fish makes it the best place to have your seafood fix, Wizzard Fish, Lobster or Langoustine tails, crabs and octopus are a remarkable dishes served around, when they are legal; you buy it alive and they prepare it for you, that is how fresh it is. Make sure to taste the encocado (coconut curry).
In SAN CRISTOBAL:
• SUP DARWIN BAY (day trip)
• SUP PLAYA OCHOA (day trip)
• SURF NORTH SWELLS : PUNTA CAROLA , El CAñON & MANGECITO. SOUTH SWELLS : LA LOBERIA & OTONGO REEF
• SNORKELING KICKER ROCK IS A MOST.
• LAGOON EL JUNCO , “La Galapaguera” and PUERTO CHINO IF YOU HAVE A SPARE DAY, TOTALLY WORTH IT.
In SANTA CRUZ:
• SUP & SURF TORTUGA BAY
• SUP SANTA CRUZ FROM THE PORT
• SWIM IN THE GRIETAS AT NOON
• VISIT THE HIGHLANDS ON YOUR WAY TO OR FROM THE AIRPORT ( BALTRA)
• VISIT THE CHARLES DARWIN RESEARCH CENTER
• PARTY LA ROCK STAR AT THE BONGO BAR, ORDER A GHANDY COCKTAIL.
IN ISABELA :
• SUP AND SNORKEL TINTORERAS (DAY TRIP)
• SURF EL FARO , QUINTA OLA & PLAYA BARAHONA
• LOOK FOR PENGUINS, HANG OUT WITH THE FLAMINGOS AND SNORKEL WITH THE SHARKS
• HIKE TO THE LARGEST VOLCANO IN THE WORLD
• HIT THE HAPPY HOUR AT THE PINK HOUSE AT THE END OF THE BEACH AND HAVE A GREAT TIME.
By Richie Parkhill | December 14, 2016 |
SUPing in the Galápagos Islands without exaggeration, is an experience like no other, because it is a place like no other. Sitting right atop the Equator and approximately 600 miles west of Ecuador at the intersection of 5 ocean currents lies this natural laboratory of one of the richest marine ecosystems in the world. The islands emerged from the bottom of the sea through a series of volcanic eruptions possessing the unique trait of never having been connected to the mainland. As disconnected as they are, they create a sense of life in its most natural state. Paddle within feet of penguins and blue footed boobies while manta rays glide smoothly around your board. The lack of instinctive fear of humans allows an up close encounter with giant tortoises and marine iguanas. Experience the playful and curious sea lions as they swim and jump alongside you while the sun set creates a scene you will not soon forget. . Jump off your board and snorkel in the cool waters amid shimmering fish, sea turtles, coral, and sharks all amongst the backdrop of giant shield volcanoes. The waters will draw you in. Come witness what Darwin discovered years ago- that we are all connected and come from the same seed. Get on your board and get salty!!