I went on the Sea and Land tour, and loved the Sea (diving) portion of the tour enough to boost my review to three stars.
The diving was amazing, and Freddy, our divemaster, was really great.
My expectation for the tour, based on the itinerary provided, was that the mornings would be spent diving, and the afternoons on land excursions. What happened is that our dive tours returned to the lodges at noon for lunch, and our land excursions were scheduled to start at 3pm, and have us back at the lodge at 5:30. The awkward gap between 1pm and 3pm without activities and the shortness of the afternoon excursions mean that I feel like I didn't really get to experience the Galapagos above water.
When I spoke to the staff about things to do during times we were not scheduled on tour, the staff were not helpful at all.
The accommodations themselves at the Santa Cruz and Isabella lodges was just fine, but the food portion left a lot to be desired.
On Santa Cruz, Red Mangrove has a restaurant with a full menu. But, when on their tours, you get a limited menu of only two appetizer and entree options or a buffet - none of which sounded or looked nearly as appetizing as what's on the restaurant menu. I also verified with the sales staff that Red Mangrove could accommodate a vegetarian diet before booking the tour - only to get there and experience that they cannot - the "limited menu" options often didn't include any vegetarian items, and I was offered "spaghetti" as an alternative, and had to pick appetizers only at the buffet.
On Isabella, the food options and quality were even worse. There was often hardly any vegetarian appetizers, and all the entrees had meat or seafood - even after the staff had told me there would be more vegetarian options provided after there was almost nothing I can eat at the buffet on my first day there. The quality of food, too, dropped below what I remember high school cafeteria food being.
Luckily, there are other places to eat on both Santa Cruz and Isabella, so after some exasperation with Red Mangrove, we started leaving in order to eat - the food at restaurants on both islands was quite good, it was just very frustrating to spend money on food after paying over $5000 for the two of us to have an food-included tour from Red Mangrove.
For anyone going on this trip, I would recommend asking Red Mangrove to provide an itinerary with trip times included prior to booking the trip to ensure you're getting the trip you expected, and for vegetarians, to plan on eating outside of Red Mangrove.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Water front lodge, with the best view of the bay, enjoy our own all inclusive adventure rates, including your daily adventures to explore the Island. Enjoy food and drinks in our Restaurant Deck ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Red Mangrove Aventura Hotel Puerto Ayora
- Hotel Red Mangrove Aventura
- Red Mangrove Aventura Lodge Galapagos Islands/Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz