Espanola Island, The Galapagos
After a rough night at sea, everyone feeling sleep deprived, we rallied ourselves and headed for Espanola in the pangas. A beautiful long stretch of bright white sandy beach with black volcanic rock.
Sadly the weather was a little rainy but for me, the highlight was seeing the playful sea-lion pups playing with each other in the sea and sunny weather didn’t seem so important as we watched them catching waves and surfing them!
We also saw plenty more marine iguanas basking in the sun (which came out temporarily) as well as some brave little finches and mocking birds which hopped up to us happy as larry to pose for pictures.
Back on the pangas we headed for some rocks to do some deep water snorkelling. This was my absolute favourite snorkelling experience so far – yes even better than the Great Barrier Reef!
Firstly I have never encountered water so clear before – the visibility was unreal! Secondly, we were surrounded by younger more playful sea-lion pups that interacted with us even more than on the previous day off San Cristobal! They were spinning in circles and zooming up to us before diving beneath. It was definitely impossible to keep 2 metres away here! I was nose-to-nose with them on several occasions taking videos and photos.
One of the guys on my trip had a go-pro on a selfie stick and has amazing footage of the sea lions playfully biting at the go pro! (Glad it wasn’t biting fingers!)
Whilst the sea lions were my highlight, the fish were also incredible as was the coral on the deep shelf we swam along! I’m not sure I’ve ever seen coral so colourful! This was definitely an experience that will stay with me for a long time!
The same day we took a panga ride to another part of Espanola island where we had a rare opportunity to see The Galapagos Albatross. These huge birds perform a silly dance to attract a mate which we were lucky to see! The female was having none of it though!
- The albatrosses mate for life – they are not into the tinder game!
- Some albatross babies weigh more than their parents because their parents will leave for several days hunting for food and so they feed up the babies with lots of fish oil to keep them going until their return! They also look huge as they are big brown balls of fluff!
- Whilst the Galapagos hawks are the top predator, the albatross are safe from them as they are too big, including the babies!
As well as Albatrosses, we also saw LOADS of marine iguanas! There were hundreds of them clustered together for warmth. There were so many that you had to be so careful not to step on any!
Whilst they look pretty terrifying, they are very chilled out and barely blink when you go near! These particular marine iguanas had been eating a lot of algae as the algae alters their colour! These iguanas were different shades of bright red and green!
Another top highlight was discovering a newborn baby sea-lion on our way back to the boat. The fluffy little pup had been born in the 2 hours we were away exploring the island! It could barely open its eyes and looked wet and bedraggled, suckling from its mother! What a privilege to see this in the wild!
Floreana Island, The Galapagos
The next day we visited Floreana island, west of Espanola. First stop was Santa Cormorant, the saltwater lagoon where we spotted a few lonely flamingoes – most had found they way to other lagoons in search of more food. The walk we took led to another beautiful beach where stingrays, turtles and sharks were spotted from the beach.
We did another snorkel from the boat, this time the water was very choppy and there was a strong current which we followed. But despite this, it still felt incredibly peaceful under the water! Here we saw some incredible fish! Parrotfish, angelfish and many more. There were one or two sea lions but these seemed more intent on fishing than playing this time. We did catch sight of our first sea turtle, albeit fleeting.
The same afternoon we headed for post office bay where there is a small box containing postcards addressed to places all over the world. The idea is you drop off a postcard and if any are addressed to your home town then you take it to hand deliver! So Mum & Dad – don’t be surprised if your postcard doesn’t arrive until 2020!
There was just enough time for another snorkel this time off the beach. The highlight here was the sea turtles. I’ve swum with turtles before but these were HUGE! I’m guessing 1 metre long! And at one point I was swimming with 3 of them! The current was strong so it was difficult to move away and I came face to face with the turtle as it swam beneath me just a mere few cm away! Incredible!
With the Galapagos’s Southern Islands ticked off, the next stop was the Central Galapagos Islands – check out that article to find out all about the elusive land iguanas and orca sightings. Plus Bartolome island offers the prettiest view in the Galapagos Islands!I visited the Galapagos Islands with a G Adventures cruise. You can read the full Galapagos cruise review to find out more!
What to pack for a trip to The Galapagos Islands
- Number one item to pack is an action camera. You won’t want to miss getting some great pictures and videos of the magical underwater world in the Galapagos Islands. I have a GoPro Hero 6 which takes fantastic quality photos and videos but you can also get great budget versions such as this one for under $50!
- You’re going to be getting on and off boats a lot during your trip to The Galapagos Islands so make sure you have a dry bag to keep your belongings safe. A waterproof phone cover is also a great idea for protecting your phone and being able to use it as a camera on the beach.
- Consider taking your own mask and snorkel and even your own fins if you are planning to do a DIY budget Galapagos trip and save on money spent to hire them. It’s also useful on cruises as you won’t have to battle to find one which is your size and doesn’t leak!
- Make sure you take reef safe sunscreen. Regular sunscreen can be really damaging to the coral and subsequently the wildlife. If you want to know more about this, I suggest you read this article.
- The tap water is not safe to drink in the Galapagos Islands so I recommend you save money and do your bit for the environment by investing in a Water To Go bottle. These bottles filter the tap water as your drink making it completely safe for consumption. This will also save you money in the Galapagos Islands. If you use the code GLOBETROTTERGP when you purchase one on their website, you’ll get 15% off.
- You’ll be in and out of the water constantly when you are in the Galapagos Islands so you’ll need an antibacterial towel which dries fast such as these fun stripey towels from Dock and Bay.
- The volcanic rock in the Galapagos Islands is very unforgiving on your feet so I’d recommend taking water shoes or waterproof sandals like these ones from Teva.
- And don’t forget your travel insurance. Make sure it covers adventure activities like snorkelling and diving.
Other articles you may enjoy;Galapagos on a budget – the ultimate guide Galapagos Island hopping trips which wwon’tbreak the bank A Galapagos Packing List
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