6 Days in the Galapagos - Part 2
The Galapagos is everything I ever thought it would be and more. If you missed the first two days of my trip to the Galapagos, check them out here! Experiencing the wildlife up close and personal was an experience that I will never forget.
DAY 3 – Sea Lion Island & San Cristobal
We pulled up to the shores and there were Sea Lions everywhere. I mean, there were 100’s laying on the beach and quite a few more enjoying the warm rocks where we were trying to walk. Harry spread his arms wide like the wings of a bird to make space. Some Sea Lions accommodated us immediately and others were a bit upset with us interrupting their nap time. The alpha male aka beachmaster was upset that none of the ladies seemed interested in his aggressive attention. He growled and snuggled but to no avail as the ladies resisted, one even biting his whiskers to fend him off.
We returned to the boat to grab our wetsuits and back to Sea Lion Island for some snorkeling. Within minutes a medium sized female approached playfully. Swimming and spinning in between us, she had no fear. She was the first of a few who came ready to play and dance. Amazing!
DAY 4 – Española Island (Gardener Bay & Punta Suarez)
We cruised for a few hours during the night and arrived at 7am to the stunning beaches in Gardner Bay. After anchoring, we enjoyed a hearty breakfast and whisked off to explore the peculiar creatures near Española Island. We hopped in for some snorkeling near Gardner Bay, next to Whale and Turtle Islands. Harry calls us over near an underwater cave and tells us to keep an eye out. He dived down about 12 ft. and you could slowly begin to make out the shape of a white tail reef shark. He tapped the shark on the tail and it jutted out of the cave and quickly swam right past us. I’m not going to pretend I wasn’t frightened in the moment but it was worth the scare.
Snorkeling the Galapagos is special for the same reason the archipelago is unique. Animals are incredibly curious and without fear they get closer to humans than I ever thought possible. The Boobies, Sea Lions, Sea Turtles, Iguanas, and other species seemingly have no fear. They want the attention and enjoy the company.
I was amazed by both the stunning views and the wildlife on Española Islands. A huge cluster of Marine Iguanas welcomed us to the shore and we had to clear them off the trail to begin our 2 hour hike. Many Albatross were circling above and we came upon a couple “displaying” by rubbing their beaks together and cuddling to create a beautiful heart. A few hundred ft. further we arrived to a cliff side full of finches, red tropics, albatross and a solitary hawk. The view at Punta Suarez was breathtaking. The contrast of black lava rock, turquoise water, and colorful shrubbery including lichen caressed ground cover felt like we were on a different planet. We continued to the Booby village, where gorgeous Nazca Boobies were scattered along the rocks with the sun setting behind them. Española was by far my favorite island.
DAY 5 – Floreana Island
Floreana has 2 contrasting beaches separated by a large lagoon. You can view the Pink Flamingos wading and hunting in the shallow lagoon from Cormorant Point. They sift through the mud for shrimp all around the lagoon. Nearby is the white sand Flour beach where Green Sea Turtles nest. We weren’t there for nesting season but we did see a few rays riding the waves.
On the other side of Floreana is Post Office Bay. Traveling sailors and pirates would leave letters in hope that the next person would take the letters to their destination. Today, the tradition continues as travelers leave letters without stamps for loved ones. I left a post card for my parents and less than a month later, somebody from San Francisco took it back to the States and sent it to them.
DAY 6 – Santa Cruz Island (Charles Darwin Center)
Our journey was coming to an end and we returned to Santa Cruz Island and Puerto Ayora. The Charles Darwin Research Station has a whole host of ongoing research projects. We visited the small museum and fed the Giant Tortoises. Harry offered some insight into Darwin’s theory of evolution, which was a perfect way to cap this spectacular adventure.
The Galapagos archipelago that consists of 13 main island is one of the most protected places on earth and is an outdoor classroom. The guides are dedicated to their craft and make the extra effort to clearly explain complex subjects in a personal and meaningful way. I am so grateful to be one of the privileged few to explore the islands.