Ep. 28 – Galapagos Islands


Here’s our favourite travel video from this year: the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador. We had an incredible time sailing around the archipelago on a 16 passenger yacht for 8 days. We saw amazing wildlife both on the islands and underwater where we snorkelled with sea lions, penguins, turtles and marine iguanas!

This video is a little longer than usual but well worth a watch – if you do, don’t forget to set to 1080p!

Sophie & Dave

Santa Fe & South Plaza – Galapagos Islands

Day 2: Santa Fe and South Plaza Islands

We adjusted to being on a boat quite quickly and had a good first night’s sleep, though we decided to take sea sickness tablets throughout the trip as a precautionary measure. We had a fairly early start and got ready for our first hike of the day. This was a ‘wet landing’ on to Sante Fe island meaning we jumped out the zodiac into the water and put our trainers on once we’d got to the beach. The beach and the rocky shores were covered with sea lions. The star of the show however, was a young Galapagos Hawk. He was perched only a few meters away from us on the tree. It was a young hawk because his colourings were a light brown, the adults are much darker. It was so incredible to be so close to a completely wild bird of prey who had no fear of us because he has no predators in the Galapagos and is the very top of the food chain on the island. After the photoshoot of him, we walked back to the beach and turned to see 5 hawks circle and land nearby! I dashed back to get a glimpse and got to see a mature, dark hawk too!

We then set off on our walk in pursuit of the unique specie; the Sante Fe land iguana. This iguana is unique to the island and is more yellow than other land iguanas in the Galapagos. We saw tracks in the sand and even the prints of the scales of the iguanas. The landscape and vegetation on the island was very different to what we’d seen the day prior in San Cristobal and Isla Lobos. Santa Fe is covered in what looks like dead bushes as they are really white, however, our guide said they are still alive and turn green for a couple months of the year around March! The island also has quite a few cacti, the Sante Fe iguanas are often spotted near them as they are lurking, waiting for fallen fruit that they eat. We managed to spot 6 on our walk all quite close to the trail though the highlight was seeing one iguana who was actually eating the cactus fruit and then a Galapagos Mocking bird landed on the iguana and was waiting for a bite. I was very happy I managed to get a photograph of such a rare sight; an iguana endemic to a 24 km2 island, eating the fruit of an endemic Prickly pear cactus that rarely falls and another endemic bird (to the Galapagos archipelago) sitting on his shoulder (see photo below!).

We headed back to the boat for a quick wetsuit change before going back out for our snorkelling session around Sante Fe. It was just as incredible as the day before. We saw a couple of sea turtles gliding effortlessly through the water. We saw interesting fish including quite a few of the beautiful King angelfish which are such a vivid blue colour. We saw an absolutely huge school of Yellowtail Surgeonfish. This was the biggest group of fish I’d ever seen in my life! These fish are about 20cm long and there must have been at least a thousand of them! We also saw a Marble Ray gliding along the ocean floor. The highlight of the snorkel however was when Dave and I were at the back of the group watching the few sea lions twirl in front of us, when a huge reef shark came on to the scene! It was bigger than the ones we’d snorkelled with in Fiji, at least 1.5 metres long! We then watched in awe as a sea lion swam up to pester the shark and tried to bite its tail. Not surprisingly the shark swam off in a hurry – definitely some of my favourite GoPro clips ever!

After lunch on the boat, we sailed on to the nearby South Plaza island for the afternoon.  I went up on the top deck to see about 10 massive Frigate birds sitting on the roof. They like to ride the wind pockets created by the boat so there are always loads perched at the top for a break. The South Plaza island, yet again, was a completely different landscape. It was covered in an extremely vibrant red plant called Sesuvium that changes colour through the seasons, Fabian (our guide) said soon it will turn completely green. We saw a sort of traffic-light effect with greens, yellows and reds! It is so interesting to think how different the Galapagos islands are at different times of the year, it sounds like if we are ever to return, we should come in March when lots of the vegetation changes. We saw quite a few land iguanas dotted around the island, many had what looked to be peeling skin. Apparently iguanas shed their skin twice a year; once before and once after mating. We actually saw lots of iguana carcasses too, which was quite grim but also really fascinating to look at. The island is really small, only about 2km long, though on one side, there are some big cliffs which make for interesting bird life. We saw our first Tropic bird, it is white with black markings on its back with a long, thin tail. Also nesting along the cliffs were Lava Gulls. Finally, we saw quite a lot of sea lions dotted around the islands though we saw one with a huge wound, all the skin on its hind was torn off leaving behind raw flesh. Fabian said it was likely the sea lion had been bitten by a shark and he made a call to report him. Hopefully he will be taken and looked after until he can be released back!

Join us next time as we embark on day three of our Galapagos cruise!

Sophie & Dave

Ep.10 – Koh Samui & Koh Tao


We hope you enjoy watching our underwater adventures in the Thai Islands.  See below for our fish identification chart of Koh Tao’s marine life. The video is mostly of our snorkelling in Koh Tao filmed on our GoPro!

Dave & Sophie’s fish guide to Koh Tao:

Black, white and yellow striped fish with tail
Angel Fish
Yellow and blue fish with large teeth
Blue-Barred Parrotfish
Brightly coloured closing shells
Bright yellow fish with subtle polka dots
Coral Rabbitfish
Small yellow fish with black stripes
Eight-Stripe Butterflyfish
Giant blue, brown and white clam
Giant Clam
Yellow and white fish with whiskers
Brown and white spotty fish hidden in coral
Honeycomb Grouper
Bright green fish with pink face markings
Lunar Wrasse
Thin silver fish with pointed noses
Needle Fish
Large, multicoloured fish with big teeth
Bright yellow fish with black and white striped face
Pocket Butterflyfish
Black and white fish with red stomach
Red Breasted Wrasse
Small blue and black striped fish
Sergeant Major Fish
Extendable jaw on pastel coloured fish
Sling Jaw Wrasse
Large green fish with black scales
Thick Lip Wrasse
Large, aggressive, ugly fish with sharp teeth
Titan Triggerfish
Polkadot fish with yellow patch and spines
Yellow Blotch Rabbitfish

Koh Samui & Koh Tao – Thailand


We’d been to the north of Thailand last month and came back to visit some of the islands. From Siem Reap, we flew to Phuket as it was a lot cheaper than heading straight to Koh Samui but unfortunately this meant we were set for another 6-7 hour bus journey upon arrival. This was probably the first time our lack of planning didn’t do us any favours… Phuket airport is about a 45 minute journey north of Phuket town, already on the way to Surat Thani (the connecting town to the islands). We assumed we’d be able to catch a bus straight from the airport instead of wasting a journey into town only to head back on ourselves an hour or two later. After bitterly trudging around the area near the airport in the mid-day sun and enquiring in several places, it was quickly apparent that we would have to catch the bus from town. Palava. So yes, we wasted more time taking a taxi to the bus stop in town.

We got a local bus rather than a tourist bus (inadvertently) which was a fair bit cheaper. The bus journey was ok but the driver frequently stopped to pick up locals in the middle of the road and inevitably we were an hour or so late. We finally arrived late in the evening but thankfully the hotel staff were very helpful in arranging our boat the following morning.

We caught an early bus to Donsak Pier and boarded a ferry to our first Thai island, Koh Samui. Again, we sort of accidentally booked a ticket on a cargo boat rather than the fancy high speed catamaran tourist boats that most people get because it was cheaper and we didn’t really question what boat we’d be on. We had found a good deal online to stay at a fancy resort on Mae Nam beach. The complex was massive and I think the fact they give you a ride to your room in a golf buggy speaks for itself. There was a massive cockroach in the room though that I valiantly removed using the ashtray (nothing else was big enough to trap it) as Dave isn’t a fan of cockroaches. Unfortunately it looked like we had brought the English weather with us. It would be sunny in the mornings but then take a turn for the worse with torrential downpours. We got caught in one and the roads filled up ankle deep really quickly. Lots of locals stopped to wave/laugh at us as we ran down the street bare foot and soaked to the core! Koh Samui’s waters are too cloudy to see any marine life so we just chilled by the beach. I’ve realised that I don’t actually like doing that because I get bored sunbathing after about 2 minutes and can’t read unless I’m in the shade. I just hassle Dave every 5 seconds asking if he’s finished his chapter yet and to come and play in the sea. Comparatively, if you give me a snorkel set, I’ll be happily amused for hours without coming up once.

A few days later, we moved round the coast slightly to Bohput Fisherman’s Village. We had both envisaged a small traditional village but if anything it was more touristy than Mae Nam. It was nice however to walk along the beach (usually ice cream in hand) and wonder through the various night stalls. We were always a little concerned about our belongings because we were staying in a bamboo hut that you couldn’t actually lock properly (all was fine though).

After a few days, we decided we weren’t fans of Koh Samui and decided to move on. Koh Samui wasn’t what I thought it would be, it’s feels very much like a city rather than an island; I can see the draw of Koh Samui if you’re very social and like drinking (I’m still going strong on the alcohol ban) and sunbathing (I’m rubbish). But for us, we decided to head for Koh Tao about 40km north with the promise of marine life. The ferry only took a couple of hours (we entertained ourselves with a wasabi pea eating contest) and it was a welcome surprise when there was a 4×4 pick up truck waiting for us from our hotel to transfer us to the other side of the island to a remote bay called Tanote. We had originally planned to only stay a few nights but instantly loved it so much, we ended up staying 5 nights. Our favourite thing to do, obviously, was snorkelling. The coral and marine life literally started about a metre or two from the beach. We’ve been fortunate enough to snorkel in some very cool places but I think Koh Tao was the most impressive we’ve ever seen. We saw so many different species of fish and then we’d try googling them later on to learn more about them. We saw loads of beautiful Parrot fish; they’re about half a metre and the brightest colours you’ve ever seen! Upon my extensive googling endeavours, I learned that Parrot fish can change gender in their lives! If the dominant male dies, a female becomes male to take over. On the first day we saw a huge, quite ugly fish with sticky out horse-like teeth. We followed him for a while filming on the GoPro. When we researched it later, turns out it was a Titan Triggerfish which can actually be really aggressive and territorial; you should always stay clear of them, they’ve been known to bite through people’s fins! Google said to swim horizontally away if you encounter them. The next day we saw them again but they were swimming fast, so we decided to swim quickly the other way, when we watched back the GoPro footage later, we saw the fish had doubled back and come right next to me ready to attack! Stay tuned for all the different fishies on our next video!

You’d think we’d have gotten bored of 5 days of snorkelling but we were sad to leave.  We embarked on the long reverse journey back to Phuket where we had a one night stopover in the old town which is a world heritage site with quirky little meandering streets.

Thanks for reading and join us next time for our time in Singapore!

Sophie & Dave