Greece: Turtles and Caves

Committing to an 8:30am tour feels like the biggest mistake I’ve ever made. I didn’t go out last night, I had a very chill day, but I haven’t had to get up early in weeks. My body clock is rejecting this. But hey! I’m goin’ to see a cool beach (famous Shipwreck) and some caves so I do eventually drag myself out of bed. 
I leave with tons of time to make it to the tour office, but never took into account the possibility that no one would pick me up hitch hiking. The other times I’ve tried to flag a ride I’ve been picked up almost instantly. Today, it’s just not happening. By the time I’m halfway there I give up on the cars and start to speed walk. The Maps.Me App** says I’ll be there 5 minutes late, but I beg to differ. I’m from Toronto, I walk quickly.

….Maps.Me wins. I miss the bus. Fml.

The tour office isn’t open yet so I wander down to the beach for a nap before going back and pleading with them to reschedule. All I have is 5€ on me so I’m hoping I can use that as some kind of bribe?

When I get back to the office the woman at the desk is UNbelievably helpful. She thinks I’m insane for walking here (really not that bad), takes pity on me, and says she’ll call the boat guys and tell them I was sick, without me having to offer up my fiver! Now I’m scheduled in for tomorrow afternoon. Bless her soul.
I had also booked a sea turtle spotting trip with them but it was cancelled on Monday due to bad weather, and instead of refunding me she calls and convinces someone to schedule me in this afternoon.
Now I haven’t walked 4km into Laganas for nothing!

It’s only 10:30, and the turtle excursion doesn’t leave until 2:30, so I have some serious time-killing to do. I could go home and come back but that seems silly, so instead I take a long walk down the beach, and find a restaurant for an early lunch. I go to a beach front bar and pick up a gyro pita wrap for 2.50€; it even come with fries!
I do some more walking around Laganas and lay on the beach for a bit, but I expect I’ll be in the sun all day so this seems like a foolish choice.

Eventually the time comes and I get picked up by the bus to take me to the port. My phone dies before I even step foot on the boat, which stresses me out a little bit because now I won’t be able to take ANY photos for the rest of the day. Pics or it didn’t happen, right?!

The tour is literally called “Turtle Tour”, so naturally, we start off by going to find some. We have a cool glass bottom boat and big open air “windows” so everyone has a chance to get a good view. Similar to dolphin or whale watching, they don’t guarantee you’ll see a sea turtle, but I’ve never seen one before so I really hope we do!
We find one almost immediately; gigantic and puttering around just below the surface of the crystal clear water. Going about his turtle day. Of course, everyone leaps to one side of the boat to see him, and since it’s MY side of the boat I get pressed right up against the edge, and some guy reaches his camera over my shoulder and next to my face trying to get a good shot. Good luck with your blurry below-the-surface turtle pic, bro. I’m above everyone now because I’m not using my camera phone, obviously.

Not my photo. From Google. But here’s a turtle… in case you didn’t know what they looked like.

Soon enough, there are 3 other boats that have come to get a glimpse, and we’ve formed a box around the little guy. Everyone is pointing fingers and lenses, gasping or shouting when he comes up for a breath of air. It’s a litttttttle extra, I’ll be honest. I’m comforted to know he can just swim under one of the boats and escape if he’s bothered, but he doesn’t seem to be. I struggle with animal tourism and where to draw the line, but I really think this one is okay. No one is touching them, feeding them, caging them; just watching.

Next we’re on to the Marathonisi Caves. Our boat guide doesn’t really do much talking besides listing the rules of the boat, but I prefer it that way. I don’t like feeling like a big ol’ tourist, and boat guides that are constantly speaking and cracking jokes get old. Just take me to the pretty things in silence, please.
He does. I’m a fan.

We pass Marathonisi and tons of beautiful caves and cliffs along the way but finally reach an inlet where the boat parks and we’re able to get out and swim around. I thought it was Marathonisi cave we’d be swimming through but it’s not. This is a much quieter spot with only 1 other boat parked so I think we got a better deal. I’m not sure anyone gets to swim around the main caves. Boats are constantly going through. Meh.

Not my pic. Trying to give you some visual representation. This is Marathonisi, not where I swim.

Again, our guide is chill af and lets us jump off the roof. I dive (k. I jump. I don’t know how to dive) in to the turquoise water and head straight for the caves. I’m the first one there and am a mix of freaked out and excited. There’s a light shining through the other side, so I’m sure it connects but…it’s so dark. Are there bats? Sea monsters? Will I fit through the narrow gap ahead?
Only one way to find out!

Swimming through is fantastic; the sound of the waves crashing and gurgling against the cave walls, the unbelievably clear water, and the sunlight visible on the other side, illuminating the surface from royal blue to turquoise. I swim through once, then turn around and go back. At one moment a big wave comes in, and raises the water level so high that I almost knock my head against the ceiling. I’m a shit swimmer and should have just gone under, but my instinct is always to keep my face where there’s oxygen… even if it involves smashing my head against a cave rock, apparently.

Not my pic. Google. This might not even be the cave I swam through – but I think so. Same idea.

Everyone else on my boat is insane and doesn’t bother exploring the caves. They just hang out around the boat, doing flips off the roof or floating nearby. Fools!

Do they even KNOW there’s a cave here? Our boat guide totally said it. Did they really just sign up to see one turtle? I’ll never understand. Obviously I can’t complain, I’m way happier to have the cave all to myself!!!

ONE other guy takes a swim through, but that’s it. 56 other people stay around the boat. Side note: he’s old… like, his wife and kid are with him on the trip level old, but I have never been so attracted to an older man in my life. Not because he swam through the cave – though that totally confirmed he was cool – but because he’s just generally beautiful. You don’t understand. Silver fox af.  I try to figure out where he’s from by the language he and his family speak, but never figure it out for sure. Scandinavian or Dutch is my best guess. Makes sense, those people are always beautiful.

We are called back to the boat after 45 minutes, and then taken through a larger cave while staying on the boat. Not like, through through the cave. More like squeezed into a little enclave, where the driver blares some Coldplay real quick to show us how the sound reverberates off the cave walls (which they’d have known if they swam the last cave). Feels a little tacky, but it’s pretty cool to hear the echos, and who doesn’t love Coldplay?

Our final stop is to a turtle nesting beach. Sounds cool, right? Not really. All the nests are inland and roped off, so we’re left with only the edge of the beach. We don’t get to see any nests or anything, which is actually good because I’m sure that would get out of hand quickly. More pointing and shouting and photo-snapping. Causing unrest to the unborn.

Overall I’m not really sure why they brought us here because the beach is super rocky and there’s creepy seaweed in the water if you go to far out. Swimming near the caves was WAY better. There’s a little floating shop and some people get ice cream but I spent my fiver on lunch, so I just lay on the beach and fall asleep until it’s time for us to head back to the port.

All in all, totally great tour. 10/10 would recommend. It only cost 15€ and took up a considerable chunk of my day (about 3-4 hours). To book through the same company, find The Vivian Hotel (just off the main road leading into Laganas) and the tour company just to the left of it is the company that I went with. Great people.

Back at home I do some light cleaning and relax. Taking some time out of the sun. It’s a miracle I didn’t get burnt today but I made it out tomato-skin free!

**I seriously recommend the Maps.Me App. It’s sweet because it doesn’t need any data. You just download the map of the whole city/town/island when you have wifi, then can access the map anytime you want and it still keeps track of your location. Def a little creepy surveillance-wise but it’s not like your phone isn’t tracking your every move anyway. Might as well take advantage of it with this sweet travel app.
No one is paying me to say this, my blog has like 10 readers, this is my genuine opinion. I feel like I sound sales-y.

I’m going to try a new thing. At the end of each entry I’m going to list what my expenses were for the day, so you can get an idea of how cheap travel can be if you really get thrifty! Or how much I’m accidentally over paying for something. Who knows.
Today’s Spending:
Turtle Tour: 15€
Gyro Pita & Soda: 4.50€
Big Water Bottle: 0.80€
Total: 20ish €

Accommodation: Free – WorkAway
Other Meals: Free – WorkAway
Transport: Free – Hitchhiking/Walking/Tour Bus

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