We woke up to a very calm ocean off the coast of Santa Cruz Island. There were a couple of Galapagos sharks swimming around the ship. They were on the hunt for some tuna fish, which were swimming away from them and jumping out of the water. What an awesome view first thing in the morning.

As we prepared to disembark for our exploration, an enigmatic mist covered the island. The islands’ nickname came to mind: “the enchanted islands.” Back when sailors and buccaneers visited the islands, they struggled to find their way to land. The mist blocked their view, and the currents moved them in different directions. We wondered if that might happen to us? As we traveled towards the island in the Zodiac, the ship disappeared in a numinous mist as Santa Cruz magically appeared in front of us.

We landed on the black lava rocks. Marine iguanas, as dark as the rocks themselves, were sunbathing. They need to warm up before taking a swim to look for food. We walked by the brackish water lagoon on our way to Dragon Hill. Two baby black-necked stilts were foraging in the mud close to their parents. It was my very first time seeing such tiny and cute baby stilts. We hiked through a cotton field on our way to see the Galapagos land iguanas.

It was a hot morning, so we looked under bushes and shaded spots to find the wild, yellow, dragon-like iguanas. We saw many of them; it was mesmerizing to see their scale patterns, very sharp but harmless claws, strong yellow limbs, and very deep eyes. The Galapagos land iguanas are important to the islands, and they are beautiful to see.

During the afternoon, sea conditions were perfect. We took out kayaks and paddleboards for a nice ride along Borrero Bay. The scenery was stunning; mangroves along the coast create a beautiful and peaceful place for different species of animals to find protection. We saw about a dozen baby sharks swimming around the mangrove’s root system for safety and food. Many Pacific green sea turtles popped their heads out of the water to catch a breath before going back underwater to sleep. It was an outstanding experience to be so close to all this beauty. Now, we wait to see what tomorrow has in store for us.