Everything I know about the Galapagos I learned from David Attenborough. During more nature specials than I can count, Sir David and his friends at the BBC introduced me to everything from tortoises to sea lions, quickly placing the Galapagos at the top of my life’s list of places to go. Whenever I imagined going to the Galapagos, I always pictured going there the same way they did: researching some obscure species of reptile, or photographing marine iguanas and whatever other wildlife that happened to be around. I never expected that surfing would end up being the reason for me to visit.
As it turns out, in addition to wildlife, the Galapagos has world-class surf. “Las Islas Encantadas” pick up both north and south swells, making surf easy to find year round. I was invited to join the Paddle Surf Hawaii team in their quest to paddle surf some of these waves, and even from the air, it became obvious that we were going to score good surf. As the plane approached the San Cristobal airport, we could see at least three right hand breaks peeling off of the points. The boys were antsy to get in the water so it didn’t take long before we were all loaded onto a boat, out in search of waves.
Minutes from the harbor was Tongo, a left break populated by about 10 local kids on shortboards. The looks on their faces as we paddled out indicated that they had never seen a standup paddleboard before. Once they got used to the crazy standing Americans, they didn’t seem to mind sharing their waves with us, or with the sea lions, who, when not surfing themselves, curiously investigated our leashes from below the surface. The rest of the day was spent riding wave after head-high wave in disbelief of our good fortune.
Through the years, David Attenborough neglected to mention that there is surf in the Galapagos, and I am glad that he did. If it was common knowledge that the surf on these islands is as impressive as the wildlife, days like these would be few and far between.
For a short clip of our Galapagos surfing experience, check out the video below…