Snorkelling, sunburn and salt–a day with sealions in San Cristobal

7 May 2012

Sunburnt, windswept and salty – another full day in the Galapagos after exploring the islands off San Cristobal!

After being fitted for snorkel mask and flippers, we hopped on board the ‘speedy boat’ as Hansel, our guide called it, and headed for la Isla de los Lobos, Sealion Island.  The first animals to greet us were the blue footed boobies and fregates with their red plumes out.  However the sealions were not far along the beaches and rocks.

Isla del los Lobos 2012-05-07 010Isla del los Lobos 2012-05-07 026

After cruising around the island we stopped close to some rocks and put on our masks and flippers before jumping into the water.  We then had to float/ snorkel down to a white sandy beach a few hundred metres away.

Photos don’t do it justice – there were thousands of fish in schools swimming all around, and when you looked up above the water, fregates and other birds diving in to fish – they certainly don’t go hungry.

However the highlight was seeing the sealions on the shore, who then dived into the water, swimming less than a metre away, then zipping past the snorkel so close you could have touched them.

We had a couple of stops to observe them playing right by us, and then snorkelled onto a white sandy beach that the sealions liked just as much as us – as there were a number soaking up the sun or playfully  swimming around us.  It was one of the things I really wanted to do in the Galapagos and my first experience of snorkelling here was more than I could have imagined.

Isla del los Lobos 2012-05-07 023Isla del los Lobos 2012-05-07 038

As much as we didn’t want to leave, our second snorkelling destination for the morning beckoned – Kicker Rock – we had been warned was much deeper and home to numerous sharks and seaturtles.  The rocks themselves were incredible, and an imposing sight as the boat bobbed in their shadow.  The water didn’t look quite as inviting, but we jumped in and headed off through the alley in the rocks.

Kicker Rock & the Beach 2012-05-07 057Kicker Rock & the Beach 2012-05-07 005Kicker Rock & the Beach 2012-05-07 003

The water was deep – we couldn’t see more than a metre past our fronts, so we just snorkelled through the rocks and out the other side.  The guide was surprised – normally this is a great spot for snorkelling – but today was the highest tide for some time, and thus visibility was poor – nature for you I guess.

For us it meant we could jump back on board and head back to the beach to relax for the rest of the morning – it felt like paradise – however I underestimated the strength of the sun.

Kicker Rock & the Beach 2012-05-07 092Kicker Rock & the Beach 2012-05-07 095

Back on San Cristobal, we went for lunch and then had a little time before our afternoon excursion to the Galapagos Interpretation Centre so  i bought an icecream and watched the sealions and a friendly pelican along the waterfront.  I couldn’t get tired of it.

2012-05-07 003Back on San Cristobal 2012-05-07 011

About 4pm we headed out to the Interpretation Centre which was an interesting display of geography, wildlife, history and the future of the Galapagos Islands.  There was quite a large section on sustainability for the islands, which included tourism, and it was interesting to ponder how they can make tourism sustainable, without making it elitist….I may have to ponder that one a little longer.

On the walk back to town we had some lovely water views and came across a lady with a pet goat – just 1 month old – so cute! and unexpected.

Just before dinner we had a briefing for tomorrow when we change islands, and then headed out to a restaurant on the waterfront. Since coming back to the hotel I realise just how strong the sun is for my polar bear skin – I will be snorkelling in a T-shirt tomorrow otherwise my red back might be mistaken for the red crest of a fregate!

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