Santiago Island

Oct 31, 2018 - National Geographic Endeavour II


We are back at the center of the archipelago, we have been at the west exploring the new islands and now we have come to an older island, geologically speaking about 2.5 million years old. Early this morning we arrived to Espumilla Beach, located on the west coast of Santiago Island; this bay has one of the most important nesting grounds for green sea turtles. We started our day with several activities. Some of our photographers went for a walk along the beach, taking some great pictures of the wildlife along the way. Others went for a faster hike, while others went kayaking along the cliff in search of seabirds and to admire the impressive geological formations. At this time of the year, sea turtles are starting their mating season, and we have noticed many fresh sea turtles tracks and nests on the beaches.  As we started to walk further along the beach, we also found some seabirds such as oystercatchers, pelicans, and blue-footed boobies diving, Galapagos mockingbirds, and several finches.

After our early walk, we returned aboard to have breakfast and navigated to Buccaneer’s Cove. Once there, we went snorkeling along its dramatic cliffs; there we observed several species of colorful fish such as parrot fish, Mexican hogfish, king angelfish, razor-tailed surgeon fish, as well as sea cucumbers, sea stars, and some of our guests also spotted a white-tipped reef shark swimming along the cliffs. We also had several outings in our glass bottom boat.

After lunch, we navigated a short distance to Puerto Egas also known as James Bay, there we went snorkeling for a second time, or just to rest on the beautiful black sand of the beach found there. Later in the afternoon, we walked along the coast to look for Galapagos fur seals, Galapagos sea lions, marine iguanas, and several migratory shorebirds. As we headed to the interior, the landscape changed dramatically, filling up with deciduous trees such as the incense trees which look dry and leafless. This species is dormant at this time of the year and will become green by the end of the year when the warm wet season starts again.

We returned aboard National Geographic Endeavour II and had a very colorful sunset to end our day on Santiago Island. At night we celebrated being here in this wonderful and magical paradise, and also Halloween! Our enthusiastic expedition’s staff and some members of the crew wore Halloween costumes, and the night was very funny and entertaining!

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About the Author

Christian Saa

Naturalist/Certified Photo Instructor

Christian was born on the island of Isabela in the Galápagos archipelago. He grew up on a farm and had a magical childhood devoid of cars, electricity, telephones—just pure nature and playful sea lions along the beach. At the age of seven, he moved with his family to Santa Cruz Island, the economic hub of the Galápagos Islands. His father began to work in tourism and took Christian around the islands during school vacations. It was during this time that Christian learned to love and understand the real value of this unique archipelago, and he decided to devote his life to its stewardship. A lifelong passion for nature and its creatures took root in his heart, and he eventually decided to become a naturalist, which he has now been doing for 18 years now.

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