A drizzling rain did little to deter guests, staff, and crew from stepping onto the bow of the National Geographic Venture this morning to watch a tangerine sun slip over the low peaks of Reserva Natural Estatal de San Quintin on its way to disappearing beneath a heavy mat of dark clouds hanging ominous overhead.

An expectation of a damp day only fueled the excitement of exploring the mysteries of Isla San Martin––a small, rounded rectangle of an island built around a volcanic cone and covered with volcanic scree and unforgiving cacti. Adding to the spirit of adventure was the knowledge that none of the staff had ever explored this little Pacific gem, and all were prepared for a true expedition.

Apropos of the expected weather conditions, rain gear was packed, and waterproof hats were donned, as sprits remained nonetheless sunny. To the surprise of all but the most meteorologically connected, however, the dark clouds thinned, and the day slowly warmed and brightened for hikers, paddle boarders, and kayakers. Those who braved a three-hour-long hike were rewarded with fern-filled lava tubes and peregrine falcons, while kayakers found themselves surrounded by curious harbor seals, and one young elephant seal.

Following lunch, distant breaching humpback whales entertained and delighted us before we gathered on the sun deck for an early sunset as spectacular as the sunrise that began our day.