National Geographic Endeavour II set anchor right before first light this morning, just off Espumilla Beach on the west coast of Santiago Island.
As we made our way to shore for a pre-breakfast walk, some of our guests joined our photo instructor Christian for a photography-themed stroll along the beach, where they got to see brown pelicans and blue-footed boobies in a feeding frenzy. Other guests took a faster pace hike through the inland, where some lucky ones had a chance to see the Galapagos hawk close up.
After a well-deserved breakfast back on board, we sailed one nautical mile north towards an area known as Buccaneer’s Cove. We would take the rest of the morning to have a closer look at this area while snorkeling, from our glass-bottom boat, by kayak, and from our sturdy Zodiacs. The very different landscape and the wildlife of the area was captivating, and there were plenty of close encounters especially while snorkeling and kayaking with green sea turtles and many different species of colorful fish.
After having made our way back to our floating home and started sailing south while hotel manager Juan Sebastian announced a Mexican-themed lunch. James Bay was the next destination of National Geographic Endeavour II, just a few miles south and from where we would visit Puerto Egas at the southern end of the bay.
Here we had our second opportunity of the day for snorkeling, while some of our guests took advantage of the landing at a beach to either sunbathe or explore this beach where Galapagos sea lions regularly haul out to bask in the sun. Later on, in the afternoon we regrouped for a hike along the exposed shoreline just south of the anchorage. As we walked through the inland trail, we met the latest arrival to James Island. Skittish Galapagos land iguanas that have only been re-introduced to James in January 2019 after having become locally extinct some fifty years ago. As we reached some grottos at the southernmost reach of our hike, we got to have our first close-up encounter with Galapagos fur seals, which prefer the rocky shores to the open beaches for the easy access to shade during the hottest moments of the day.
We made our way back to our ship as the sun illuminated an orange sky that produced perfect silhouettes of Isabela and Fernandina Islands to the west of us.