Very few companies have permits for kayaking at the Galapagos and at the time of our visit only Explorer's Corner (same company as advertised thought O.A.R.S.) had one. It was because of this one unique way to see the Galapagos that sold us on this company. Eight people total, and less time trapped on a boat sounded like Heaven. We were right and it was Heaven. A company called Active South America began to run a new trip to the Galapagos that included kayaking shortly after our visit, but this option was not available when we went.
On this trip, it was the first day of kayaking when reality set in. We finally had the realization that no matter what was said on the phone leading up to the trip, you basically were going to be outfitted in a double kayak since the only two singles were for the instructors. Maybe later in the trip an instructor may opt to share a boat with someone else so that you one can "try a single", but then everyone wants to try it. Going in with the expectation that you will share a double will make the trip far more enjoyable than believing you will be paddling in a single.You can make your partner paddle while you take photos.
Some of the kayaks had seats where you could blow up the part that you sit on, but some did not and the metal rods pressed into my bottom and legs which was very uncomfortable. Thankfully I brought a fleece jacket (yes, a bit odd for the tropics) so I could fold it and sit on it to make the situation more pleasant. Never leave home without fleece!
On a trip like this, expect that not everyone has paddled before or that they are strong or quick. This was leisurely paddling all the time.
Photographic Opportunity of a Lifetime
So enough about the disappointments with the trip and on to the beautiful kayaking that makes this trip so special and unique. Paddling with two experienced kayakers in one boat is too much power and you can easily find yourself ahead, like in Japan, before you know it, so the best option is to elect a photographer and a paddler and go with that, switching roles for variety. Missing the photo of the pelican diving in for the fish, or the shark fin coming up behind your fellow kayakers would be a seriously incredible loss. At least in our opinions. So we worked things through.
Each day we had at least one paddle. Two of the days we had 2. In the kayaks you are able to gt closer to sea turtles and have sea lions pop up and swim alongside you while you paddle close to the cliffs to see the blue footed boobies stomp their feet and beautiful Sally Lightfoot crabs dance along the lava rocks. It is hard to pick a favorite paddle, as most all had spectacular scenery and/or animal viewing. The water was beautiful, though we stayed in the kayaks - the brochure advertises that the kayaks are easy to get in and out of for spontaneous snorkeling, but that never happened because a) no one brings snorkle gear and a full wet suit while paddling in 85 degree heat, and b) your kayak would float out to sea if you went snorkeling, so easy to get in is pretty relative in that case. Because we thought we would be snorkeling from the kayaks, we poorly planned what we packed (as in did not bring full body wet suits because you can not paddle due to lack of shoulder mobility in them, when in actual practice, we froze our buns off snorkeling because we did not pack these suits). So if you plan to go be very clear if there is truly the possibility on the in-ocean-kayak-dismount to snorkle or not.
But again, enough about the bad and back to the good. (Though if you know the bad, you can better prepare and make it into good!). The places we visited were amazing and unique, so we broke each trip into its own section on this page to better demonstrate the diversity and beauty of the individual islands of the Galapagos.