Treasuring Moments while Cruising the Galapagos Islands

The Galapagos Islands became famous in Germany during the eighties.  I remember watching my first documentary on the archipelago located 1,000 kilometers off the coast of mainland Ecuador.  I couldn’t have been older than ten and there I was, sitting in front of the TV with my dad, thoroughly amazed by the huge tortoises, the colorful marine iguanas, and the islands made out of volcanic lava flows.

Who knew that twenty years later I would have the chance to follow the footsteps of the documentary makers.  It is February 2012; it’s the middle of the hot, rainy season and for the next six days the Motor Sailor Mary Anne will be my home – a fact that I could not be more thrilled about. Right now, on day three of the cruise, I am on Española Island, a 3-million-year-old island, that is about to die. It is going to sink into the ocean, even though it doesn’t appear to be that way at all. Its size, long beaches, and green coastline give me the impression of being stable and solid grounds – and that they will always be that way. It is also surprisingly full of life for a “dying” island.

Lava Lizard on Española Island

Upon arrival at the wharf, we met a sea lion colony with its little pups playing among themselves, big green and red marine iguanas hanging around the lava rocks, bright red sally lightfoot crabs bustling about, and a Galapagos hawk reigning over the scene, always aware of the tasty little lava lizards. The western side of the island is used by masked boobies as a breeding ground. Fluffy little feather balls were being fed while practically hairless, recently hatched chicks laid there.  But none of the birds showed timidity. We approached them keeping an arm’s length distance and even cameras without zoom were able to get a perfect shot.

Nazca Boobies on Española Island

Our way through the community led us to Suárez Point, where we arrived at a blowhole, a channeled cliff that turns every swooshing wave into a water fountain spurting meters into the air. On the long, white sand beach of Gardner Bay on the eastern coast of Española Island sea lions lay next to each other, only lazily getting up every once in a while to take a dip to cool down, turn their bodies around in the sand, or shoo away flies. Little lava lizards often take care of this task by catching the flies that land on their fur. It’s a win-win situation.

Snorkeling Devil’s Crown

Happily for us, volcanic islands don’t die very fast. You have plenty of time to visit Española and the other amazing islands during your lifetime. Floreana Island is where we spent the fifth day of the cruise.  I won’t be forgetting its superior snorkeling grounds anytime soon because I saw my first shark here! I was first in the water, all alone, and there he was – swimming right toward me. With an elegant movement he snaked slowly through the water as if there were no resistance at all. But I couldn’t even take in what he looked like or admire his features; I just surfaced, got air, and shouted: “Shark! There’s a shark! He’s beneath me! Shark! Everyone!”  I was so excited – my heart was pounding.  As I swam back to the beach, I spotted two Galapagos penguins speeding around underneath me and then they just popped up right next to my shoulder. It seems like those two black little heads wanted to get a good look at me before disappearing back under the water, which they did almost immediately. What a day.

Sea lion posing for the camera

And that wasn’t all. Later we snorkeled around the rock formation Devil’s Crown, where I had another inspiring encounter with a sea lion that was not shy at all. We had been snorkeling with him for a while and he was still posing like a model for us, getting up close to push his whiskers right into the lens of our cameras, and doing funny twirls and turns.  When I dove down and spun around, he dove down and spun around, too. Could it actually be? A wild sea lion actually playing with me? Yes, this is a real thing, a common occurrence, in fact, when you are in the Galapagos Islands. My fellow travelers on the Mary Anne came from all over the world and were of different ages, but we had one thing in common: we would land on an island and be amazed, silently astonished, trying to capture and treasure each and every moment. This blog and these pictures will help me do that – and maybe it will help you to find another place to put on your bucket list.

Sunset on Galapagos Islands

2 Comments

  1. I’m planning a trip to Quito and I was thinking of taking a day or two to see the Galapagos Islands. How would I get from Quito to Galapagos (boat or plane)? Also, how much does it cost to fly round trip or take a boat round trip? Thanks!!!

  2. Hi there and thanks for your comment!

    From Quito you have to take a plane to the Galapagos Islands. You should consider staying there for at least 4 days, because the first and the last day are mainly for arrival and departure.

    The flights are usually around 570 USD both ways. You can check this site for some offers to get an insight on what’s possible on the Islands: http://www.surtrek.com

    But trust me, every dollar spent is worth it 🙂 You have read my blog – I am still smiling when I think back to this trip!!!

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