Many people often wonder: What kinds of things can I do in the Galapagos Islands without a Naturalist Guide? The answer is: lots! There are boundless opportunities for a variety of things to do and trips to keep you busy that allow you to soak up the Galapagos Wildlife and endless beauty.
This second part of a 6 chapter series is about “Las Grietas”, on Santa Cruz Island. Directly translated, “grieta” means crevasse or crack. Las Grietas is a place to swim in cool ocean water between two tall cliffs, where the earth has opened like a “crack” or “crevasse”.
To get to this amazing place from Puerto Ayora, visitors need to cross to the “otro lado” (the “other side”) in a speed boat taxi (60 cents) from the main dock in front of the park and volley ball courts. From here, follow the signs to the Finch Bay hotel. With the ocean on your left and the Finch Bay Hotel on your right, continue along a rocky wall to the very end where you will find a path leading off to the right hand side. From here, you follow a 15 minute trail that starts off sandy and rocky, and winds up criss-crossing over a jagged lava field, through a cactus forest, and up a sandy path once again to the top of Las Grietas. It´s definitely recommended to wear closed toes shoes or runners, as the lava is hot and pointy.
Upon arriving to the Grietas, you´ll find some wooden narrow steps that lead down to a jumble of large boulders. From here, you can climb carefully into the water. A pair of water proof shoes would be good for swimming here, as the rocks underwater are slippery with algae and the entrance and exit to the water can be tricky.
Local people may often be seen jumping from various levels of the cliff, but this isn´t recommended, as the area where you need to land your jump is quite specific. Use caution and always check how and where others are jumping from before you take a flying leap!
Although there is not much to see underwater at las Grietas, as it just has small openings for water to filter through, the view is spectacular: like swimming in a secret cove, in a Jurassic Park scene, or Never Never land! If you swim to the very end of the first pool, and climb over the rocky division, you come to a second similar swimming channel. At the end of this cove there is another rocky divider. On the right hand side, about a meter from the bottom of the ocean floor, there is a small swim-through: a tunnel about a meter long. With one long breath you can make it through quite easily to the other side, and it makes for some adventurous photos!
Be sure to leave Las Grietas well before sunset, as the trail is not lit and the path is even less well-defined at night!