Gorgeous Galápagos Beaches (May 2019)

My friends who love schedules and itineraries would strongly disagree with me, but I believe the best travel adventures are the ones that are unplanned and spontaneous!

When boarding our flight to Guayaquil two years ago, I never anticipated that our South American honeymoon would end in a trip to the Galápagos Islands. Our time in Ecuador was rocky to say the very least, and without getting into too much detail, I was in desperate need of alone time with my new husband. A four-day stay on San Cristóbal Island was exactly what I/we needed, and the ‘secret’ beaches we discovered were even more enticing.

Whether you’re planning a long-weekend or long-term vacation, try going without an itinerary; you won’t regret it 🙂

Snorkeling with Sea Lions

During our last full day in the Galápagos, Juan and I rented snorkels and headed to the “hotspot” for animal watching. We were greeted by sea lions who wanted to swim and play with us!

Pro tip: buy an underwater camera before you visit the islands. I instantly regretted not having one…

Tortoise Conservation

As anticipated, I saw some large creatures in the Galápagos; however, I didn’t expect to see tortoises up close. Manolo also took Juan and I to another destination we couldn’t skip, which was filled with these native species.

Interestingly enough, “galapago” meant “saddle” in Spanish, which described the shells on these animals’ backs.

Tortoises can actually live up to 150 years (the average lifespan being 120 on the islands). They can also weigh up to 250 pounds for females and 500 pounds for males! At this facility, the young tortoises between the ages of one and five are separated: fed individually, heavily cared for and combined with the older tortoises at age five.

Although the tortoises have it good on San Cristobal Island now, it wasn’t always this way (it was actually quite tragic). When Darwin visited the islands in 1835, he noticed that these creatures were so large and had lots of meat on them; tens of thousands of tortoises were slaughtered and consumed by himself and others he knew.

Thankfully this isn’t still happening today!

A Treehouse Tucked Away…

During our time on San Cristobal Island in the Galapagos, Juan befriended a local taxi driver named Manolo. Of course, the two of them had a lot in common: Spanish is their native language, they grew up in Ecuador and they seemed to laugh at the same things (probably at me)!

Kidding aside, Manolo was one of the coolest locals we met on the island. Why do I say this? Not only was he a “salt-of-the-earth” kind of dude, but he became our private chauffeur and took us to some unique places.

Our first stop on our “non-touristy” tour of San Cristobal Island was an eco-friendly treehouse. A family generated this treehouse – as well as other rooms on the property – from 100% recycled and sustainable materials! The hippie in me loved this and never would’ve known about it had we taken another taxi…

Have you ever befriended a kind stranger while traveling? And if so, do you still keep in touch? 🙂

Private Beach near Kicker Rock

After a long (but very fun!) two hours of snorkeling at Kicker Rock, the group headed to a beach that was completely secluded!

There were many staggering features of this deserted area, and I can’t decide which one was my favorite…

1) the water had beautiful turquoise and teal tones

2) the sand was organic, which means that the chemicals the pufferfish can’t digest turns into the soft, velvety sand we walked upon!

3) every creature on the beach was tranquil (more posts to come on this!)

4) the views on and around the beach were awe-inspiring

5) the warm waves hitting made me feel as though I was taking a bath

The only thing I’d change? The FLIES! They bite, and they bite HARD.

Pro tip: bring bug spray to the Galápagos!

Snorkeling at Kicker Rock

Instead of working a 9-5, Juan and I decided to spend a full day snorkeling in the Galápagos Islands!

Kicker Rock has an abundance of angel fish, sea turtles, sea lions and hammerhead sharks! Not only did we have amazing views, we were also welcomed by the nicest crew members and were able to meet three scuba divers: Anne-Marie, Lorraine and James.

Always try new things, because you never know who you’ll meet or what you’ll see along the way!

Thermal Spa in Cuenca, Ecuador

Tuesday afternoon my husband surprised me with a trip to Piedra de Agua, a thermal spa in Cuenca, Ecuador. I’ve never been to a spa back home, which made our afternoon together even more special (I don’t even get my hair or nails done)!

First, we had a private experience in different underground pools. The pools are very popular because Piedra de Agua is built on a volcano! We started in a hot pool with red clay, then moved into a warm pool with blue mud (Juan was daring enough to put this in his hair)! In between we washed off in the most amazing shower I’ve ever seen and exfoliated with salt and coffee.

The next part was probably my favorite (mainly because I was entertained by my husband’s fear of cold water)! We spent ten minutes in a hot bath, then spent one minute in a cold pool. Juan was so cold that I spent over two minutes in the freezing water, because she started timing once he fully submerged his shoulders. We repeated this process again, and of course Juan acted tougher the second time. My husband often acts really tough, but when it comes to handling sickness, pain and the cold, I always win!

We ended our day of relaxation in a sauna and Japanese cleansing pools. I would 10/10 recommend Piedra de Agua if you’re in Cuenca!