We arrived in Isabella after a pleasant crossing from Santa Cruz at four in the afternoon on Friday. We weave through the shallow reefs to an anchorage off the main and only town, Villamil. It’s a beautiful anchorage. The ocean swell crashes onto the beach on one side of the bay, we are tucked behind some small low rocks that protect the eastern side and in the distance are the rolling volcanic hills that cover the Island.
We are, as always in Galapagos, dependent on water taxis that, as we are to discover, are few and far between in Isabella but this evening we are lucky and one picks us up after ten minutes. Nothing can land through the waves near the beach in Villamil so we are dropped at a dock a fifteen minute walk from town. The path in is adorned with flags from around the world welcoming visitors and the road is of smart new paving stones. As we reach town however the roads turn to sand, there is hardly anybody around, it feels like we are walking onto the set of a Spaggetti Western, we expect a gun slinging cowboy to come around the corner at any moment. But of course the town is actually full of the same friendly people of Galapagos as we have met on the other islands and a mix of backpackers and middle aged adventurers.
There are plenty of small restaurants and bars and we sit down at one watching the sunset behind the hills looking out over one of the best beaches we have ever been on. A curve of soft white sand a mile so so long, interspersed with the typical jet black volcanic rocks of the Galapagos. Being on a great beach with the surf rolling in always lifts our spirits, we rather like it here.
You can’t explore much without being on tour, so we join a group for a snorkel around ‘las Tunnels’. Galapagos was formed by volcanic activity, in places as the molten rock cooled the outside formed a crust with the lava still running underneath, as the lava runs out this forms caverns and tunnels which over time have collapsed and eroded to create a unique landscape.
The sea has began to invade these areas and as everywhere here, forms a haven for wildlife. We are not good at tours we rebel at being herded and the visibility wasn’t brilliant but even we had to admit that this spot made for a gob-smacking snorkel. Where else in the world would you see a school of golden Rays glide serenely over a giant green turtle, a pelican posing with penguins, an eight inch tall sea horse nestling in the weeds, large marble rays and sleepy white tip sharks all in one place.
The Galapagos has produced so many brilliant photos, I will publish them in an extra post. We set out for Marquesas so will be at sea for about three weeks and the blog will be restricted to text. The AIS signal will no longer reach land after about fifty miles but you can watch our progress at http://my.yb.tl/sailrayatracking/.