isabella - snorkelling and chilling

  • brain coral
  • lots of fishies
  • puffer fish - not too happy the guide picked him up
  • hey dude, which way is the current
  • chilling with the turtels
  • am i a stoner?
  • goofy looking fish
  • school of fish
  • old boat
  • diego, carol and the guide
  • diego and carol
  • sea lions chilling
  • catching some rays
  • white tips relaxing
  • lots of guano
  • a fin
  • no need to tell us not to swim i think
  • boat back to santa cruz
  • pedro in deep conversation, diego not too interested

At 2pm on the 11th of August I boarded a boat for Isla Isabella - meant to be one of the more "wild" islands. People had told me that the snorkelling and the surf out there would be pretty good. They were right about the snorkelling but unfortunately they were wrong about the surf - well, not wrong, just that there was no swell.

The boat was a high speed cabin cruiser. These have recently replaced the older public boat which cost half (about $15) but took about 7 hours as opposed to the current 1 hour and 40 minutes to 2 hour boat ride. There were only 3 passengers on board - me and an a couple from Madrid. Diego and Carol were excellent travel companions and I hung out with them for the 2 days on the island. Diego is a body boarder, so when he saw my board it we immediately started a conversation about surfing. Carol was a bit quiet on the boat because she struggles with sea sickness, and was pretty much concentrating on not being sick. Also, she reckons the fact that she is pregnant is probably not helping matters.

We all checked into the same hotel, and arranged a snorkelling trip for the next morning. The trip was pretty cool. First the guide took us for a walk on one of the small peninsulas where you get to see loads of white tipped reef sharks. Basically, there's an old lava channel which now fills up with water at high tide, and the sharks swim in there for a rest during low tide and then swim back out. When we were there, there were about 15 of them just hcilling out on the sandy bottom. Apparently they're one of very few shark species that can actually stop swimming without drowning.

After the walk, the guide took us out to the snorkelling lagoon. There were loads of tropical fish and we also spotted a lobster. The guide, being a fisherman by trade went straight back to the boat to get his gloves and a bag to catch the lobster. A lobster round here gets a fisherman $10 so he was not going to pass up the opportunity. Unfortunately, we didn't do a very good job of cornering the lobster and when he got back she was gone.

The best part of the snorkel by far was seeing the turtles. We found a group of them just chilling out on the bottom at about 2  or 3 metres. They kinda reminded me of the dudes in Finding Nemo (as cheesy as that sounds). They really do look like they would do the whole stoner/surfer talk "Hey dude, what's happening, just chilling out here waiting for the current to take me out". I got really close to them and they just sat there stairing. One of them must have gotten a bit scared and took off, so i swam along with it for a while, trying to get a good photo, and just observing it

That afternoon Diego and Carol cooked lunch and invited me to join them. After lunch I grabbed my board and headed out to El Farol Playa, but the info one local surfer had given me was totally wrong - he said it would be hugh tide at about 2 which is the best tide to surf this beach, and that the swell would have picked up. When  got there, it was low tide and about a foot of swell. I like to think it was an honest mistake, but maybe he was just being a bastard. In the evening, the spanish couple cooked dinner and invited me to join them again. I thought it was really nice of them so for dinner I went out and got Diego and I a couple of beers - no boozing for the pregnant Carol. I chatted loads with them during the 2 days and really enjoyed their company. Also, speaking Spanish all the time was great. They hope to visit South Africa a while after the baby is born and I hope to see them again.

On the13th of August I had to get up at 5:30 to catch my 6am boat back to Santa Cruz, where at 2pm I would get on another boat to San Cristobal. The kid loading the boat was there on his own and was pumping "The doors". Quite funny showing up at a quiet dock at sunrise and then you here, "Break on Through" blairing. So, with 6 hours to kill once I got to Santa Cruz, I threw my bags into the boat company's office, got into my boardies, grabbed my board and walked the 45 minutes to the surf beach. The conditions were by no means perfect, but I still had one of the best sessions I've had in ages. There were only 2 of us in the water (there were 2 other kids but they weren't really surfing, just hanging out with there boards in the break). I don't know what it was, maybe the fact that I knew it was my last surf on this island, but I just seemed to be charging at everything. There were 3 waves in particular that I rode better than I have before - doing propper hard turns and all.

My skin still salty, my hair still wet and salty and my feet still covered in sand, I boarded the 2pm boat to San Cristobal.....