Our first day onboard the National Geographic Sea Lion set the stage for relaxation and discovery.  We began the day at Isla Magdalena – the 45-mile-long barrier island that protects Magdalena Bay from the Pacific Ocean.  Once ashore we chose between a photo walk or a naturalist hike through the gorgeous sand dunes. In both cases we spent our time looking closely, marveling at the scenery, climbing up or jumping off sand dunes, and learning about this unique habitat.

Our reward at the end of the hike was Sand Dollar Beach.  Here, ringing Santa Margarita Bay, was the most gorgeous, uninhabited beach that we could have imagined, complete with waves from the Pacific crashing on the shore.  The adventurous among us dove into the waves, however most of us were content to walk barefoot along the edge.

Once back aboard, we were joined by a local pilot who navigated the ship to the north end of Magdalena Bay through Hull Canal. We spent the afternoon on deck with binoculars in hand looking for wildlife. The tide was low, providing great conditions for bird watching in the mangrove-lined canal. There were many herons, egrets and other wading birds taking advantage of the mud flats. We saw some mammals too.  A coyote had found its way to the water’s edge, probably also looking for a meal.  Next, small groups of bottle-nosed dolphins came over to bow ride in front of the ship. And finally, the animals we are most excited to see, gray whales, made their first appearance! The closer to our anchorage we got, the more whales we saw. We are very excited to spend the next two days here getting to be among these amazing creatures.