This was our last day in the Galapagos so of course we wanted to pack in as many activities as possible. We opted to do everything that was offered, which included waking up super early to walk to the top of Bartolome Island before breakfast. It wasn’t an easy walk, as we had to climb 372 steps to get to the top, but there was a nice breeze and the view was spectacular.
After breakfast we donned our snorkeling gear one last time and headed to the beach on the island. We chose to do the dune walk first, which was a short hike over a hilly and sandy terrain.
At the beach on the other side of the dune, the colors of the landscape were just gorgeous. We saw lots of neat little critters along the shore.
We also watched birds pecking through the wet sand to pick up little crabs with their beaks. It was actually pretty cool because it seemed as though they were just randomly digging their beaks through the sand, but every 30 seconds or so they would come up with a tiny squirmy little crab that they would gobble right up. We also saw the shadow of a shark swimming back and forth near the shoreline though we didn’t get a good view of it.
After heading back to the other side of the dune, we jumped right into the water and began snorkeling around Pinnacle Rock.
Here we saw tons of starfish of all sizes and colors. There were black and red ones, sandy beige ones, and my favorite, the chocolate chip starfish, which are yellow and sprinkled with what looks like chocolate chips on top.
The highlight of this snorkeling trip, however, was our second encounter with a shark underwater. This time it had white marks on its fins so we were able to identify it as a white tip reef shark. We were also close enough to get a picture of it, and chased it for a while before it disappeared out to sea.
We made it all the way around Pinnacle Rock, then rushed back the same way to shore to pick up a zodiac that would take us to the glass bottom boat. The glass bottom boat is an option offered so that people who don’t snorkel can still see wildlife underwater. Even though we snorkeled at every opportunity, we were curious to see what the glass bottom boat was like so we signed up for the very last outing. It turned out to be a worthwhile time, as we saw a huge stingray swimming underneath the boat. It really is a great alternative for non-snorkelers.
After our busy morning, we headed back to the ship for our departure briefing and lunch. We had some down time before our last hike in the Galapagos, which was on Santiago Island. We had a nice leisurely walk along the shore and saw many of the animals we’ve been seeing all along on our trip. There were piles of marine iguanas…
Cutie baby sea lions with big puppy dog eyes…
And little lava lizards climbing over the rocks…
At one point all of the different hiking groups converged and there was a big commotion in a tidal pool down below us. Apparently someone’s hat had blown off into the water and one of the naturalists was climbing down the rocks to retrieve it because he didn’t want any sea lions to eat it or get caught on the string. He eventually did get the hat, but not before jumping into the water and getting totally soaked because he couldn’t climb back up the rock wall.
After all the excitement, the naturalists gave us some free time and wander around the vicinity. Josh and I ended up sitting on some rocks and just watched the sun start to set and the waves crashing all around. It was beautiful and peaceful, and a totally bittersweet moment for us as we knew it was our last day to experience the islands.
We hiked back to the zodiac landing sight and came across the most touching moment – a mother sea lion reuniting with her pup at the edge of the water. The female sea lions leave their pups in search for food and can be gone for days at a time. During this time, the pups basically starve because other females won’t share their milk. If a mother sea lion dies out at sea, her pup will die as well because no one else will feed it. We watched in awe as a mother waded in from the water calling for her pup, and a baby sea lion running down the beach to meet its mother, barking excitedly. They reunited on the shore and snuggled for a bit before the mother laid down, exhausted, and allowed her pup to nurse. As we piled onto the zodiacs and pulled away from the island, I turned around and saw the mother and pup walking inland together just as the sun was setting. It was a moment I’ll never forget, and the perfect ending to our last day in the Galapagos.