I had the privilege of surfing in the Galapagos Islands. It was my first big wave, a really big one! At that moment, I was surfing for about one year, and I can tell I already was able to ride small waves. Mostly left-handed waves, since I am goofy and it was easier for me.
Are you a goofy surfer who loves left-handed waves? Leave your answer in the comments, and add this surf spot to your list because it is an amazing left-handed wave.
My First Big Wave: Surfing in the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador.
Surfing San Cristobal, Galapagos
I arrived in San Cristobal, Galapagos in fear. Literally. I had that pressure of: “you’re not here only to dive, see the amazing nature and wildlife, you’re here to surf at least one of the famous spots in Galapagos”. (Not sure why at that point of my life I needed to prove that to myself and others, now, after 5 years surfing I just surf for fun and waves that do not scare me).
I knew that the surf spots were more difficult that the ones I was used to and familiar with.
In addition, in Galapagos there are thousands of sea lions, big turtles, huge fishes and sharks that swim underneath the board and between my feet.
I was not worried about sharks. Actually, I’d rather to go swimming with them than surfing that big wave.
I will post about that experience swimming with sharks in galapagos soon.
Parentheses: Galapagos is way more than surfing, it is a paradise of fauna and nature. Should be on your bucket list.
Galapagos Surf Spots: big swell coming
That weekend there was a big swell in Hawaii, and in Ecuador everyone was like crazy about it (I mean, those pros that love big swells, not me).
Because that meant, in 3 days that swell will be arriving in Ecuador. (That happens with north swells, in the high season from December to April approx.)
-Beautiful, I thought.
-In addition to all the things that scare me in Galapagos, a big swell from Hawaii is coming. Just amazing!
The spot’s name that I entered to surf is Cañon Point. I don’t want to know why it’s called like that.
How to paddle out in big surf
This surf spot, like most of the galapagos spots, has a rocky bottom. To paddle out I had to go down the very slippery rocks, trying to not break my little toe or the rental surfboard I had.
With my heart beating so hard, I walked amongst the rocks until there was enough water to paddle without damaging the board.
While I was there, I waited for that moment when the set stopped, to avoid the waves slamming my bum back to the rocks, and I jumped on the board and paddled for my life: hoping to reach the lineup before the big set came.
Uff.. just writing about it reminds me how it was, and I have a knot in my stomach.
-What a stress, I thought.
-Mamma mia, why am i doing this?
-Why would I want to surf here, in fear, danger, feeling like crying?
Have you ever asked that to yourself?
That is surfing: We suffer, but we continue doing it..
I shook my head and put those thoughts to the side.
And from that moment, belly on the board, I focused myself and changed my mindset:
I paddled with all my strength, inhaling and exhaling deeply to keep sending oxygen to my muscles and brain, before it turned off, because I was terrified.
Surfing the Lineup:
When I got to the lineup, we were only 5-6 people. All of them men, of course, and advanced surfers.
-No problem, I thought.
-Maybe the 5 of them may rescue me. (?)
The guy whom I rented the surfboard from, and owner of a surf school helped me to stay in the right place, to not die, and to paddle out when I felt not ready.
At that moment, I absolutely forgot about animals, sea lions, etc. I didn’t have time to be concerned about fear anymore. Better to take action.
The waves were so big, I just looked up, those walls of water were very high, and paddling strong I passed them to the safety side.
I regretted my decision to be surfing there..
-“And now, how do I get out of here?”
I didn’t know where the exit was, they told me it was in another direction.
There was no option to get out from where I entered without crashing against the rocks, and it was already mid-high tide
Getting back to land was not an option
I was paying attention to how the spot worked, and I could see that, offshore, there was a little island.
From our spot we could see the waves breaking against that island.. And that meant, in less than a minute, the set would come into the peak.
Every time I saw that white water far away, I started paddling to the safety zone. The guy told me: -“Paddle over there!”. And I went there, escaping from those walls of water.
He also told me to come back and catch a wave, but I said: -“No, not that one, it’s too big. I am scared”.
At some point medium sized waves came in (compared with the other monsters), and I was trying to convince myself: one of those smaller is for me.
So, I waited, got in position on the peak, and the guy told me:
-“The next one is yours”.
Surfing: Wipeout is inevitable
He pushed me a little bit, I paddled strongly, did not look at the back, and when I almost stood up, I slipped and boom! Wipeout.
The wipe out was not so terrible, actually. There was a lot of water, so it was like a waterbed.
That calmed me down a bit. Let’s go for the next one.
Galapagos Islands: surfing my first big wave succesfuly
I got back again into the peak, the wave was coming, and the instructor told me: this is the one.
–“Ok.” I said.
He pushed me, I paddled strongly, confidently and I stood up.
There I was, on my green giant wave, looking to the bottom through that clear water, full of fishes and reef.
I looked to my left and I saw the face of the wave and it was higher than me!
I surfed that one the longer I could, until I was too close to the rocks. So, I finished my wave, getting off it without a wipeout, unbeaten, cheering with my arms up, celebrating!
It was amazing, I forgot about all my fears, and I didn’t even check if more waves were coming, nothing.
The guys told me that I disappeared in the wave, they lost sight of me. They thought I wiped out again.
But I was in the shade of that huge wave! Wonderful!
Paddling back to shore safely from this Surf Spot
Ok, enough. All the guys had a happy session and probably were tired of waiting for me to get my wave.
We can leave now.
To get back, we had to paddle until a bay, quite far, I don’t know how long in meters, but far away. We paddled for about 10 minutes, my shoulders were burning and hurting.
We dodged many rocks and reefs, and when finally we were close to the bay, we realized that it was the bay of sea lions.
Well, in Galapagos the sea lions are the kings. They are everywhere.
But this bay was like the official home of them. How to get back through a beach inhabited by more than 500 sea lions?
Mama sea lions, baby sea lions, and dads with huge teeth and territorial alpha males?
At Galapagos many sea lions are friendly, they swim close to people, they follow you at the beach to play, mostly the calves. They are like puppies that want to play.
But never trust the males (like everything in life).
I thought we would have to spend the night sleeping on our boards, 200 meters from the shore.
In a moment, we saw that 2 local guys, very used to the sea lions environment, were coming with a kayak to that bay.
–Now!!! I said.
–Let’s go, that if they walk between all the sea lions, we pass at the same time! LOL
So we paddled like crazy, and we passed next to the guys with the kayak. They said Hi, very friendly and calm.
We stepped on firm sand, carried our boards and ran by the beach watching our backs until the main street.
Safe and sound!
Surfing in Galapagos Islands: What to expect
What a nice feeling of being alive, and moreover, I have surfed the best wave of my life until that moment.
More alive than ever.
After surfing in the Galapagos Islands, I came back to the continent more self-confident and braver.
That’s surfing, that’s life: overcome fears to jump into new adventures, that fill our bodies, that empower us to feel more mermaids than ever.
Every single day, every fear I overcome, I feel more like a fish person.
I feel I belong to the ocean and I can’t live without it.
Sending you a big hug,
PS: If you are thinking to go surfing in Galapagos, I recommend you to go with Lina at Barefoot Soul