Galapagos Islands: Santiago Island & Espumilla Beach

Good morning!

I arrived home late last night after a day of traveling from Quito to Miami to Jacksonville to Ocala. Sadie got one heck of a warm welcome from us (we are very grateful to my father-in-law for taking such good care of her) and it feels good to be back!

Vacation was absolutely amazing, but I am also ready for a bit of normalcy. I still have a couple of vacation recaps coming your way today that I typed up on the plane yesterday. My final Galapagos Islands recap will pop up this afternoon while I am at work. Lots of scuba diving fun to come!

(If you just popped in to search for the winners of last week’s giveaways, you can find them at the bottom of this post.)

Galapagos Islands: Santiago Island & Espumilla Beach

Before I had the chance to eat breakfast during our second day in the Galapagos Islands, some serious excitement occurred just off our boat. A bunch of sea lions were spotted playing on the shore of Santiago Island!

Galapagos Sea Lions

Knowing we’d be visiting that very island in less than an hour had our group feeling pretty pumped about the day ahead. Since sea lions claimed the number one spot on my list of animals I was dying to see up close during our visit to the Galapagos Islands, I couldn’t wait to hop aboard a dinghy and head out to the beach.

After two dinghies unloaded our small group a short while later, everyone took about 10 minutes to explore the wildlife on the shore before reconvening around our guide. There was so much to see!

Marine Iguana Tracks Galapagos

How cool are marine iguana tracks?

The sun-drunk expressions on the marine iguanas’ faces absolutely cracked me up.

Galapagos Islands Marine Iguana

Marine Iguana Santiago Island Total bliss!

Naturally we couldn’t resist snapping a few pictures of the Galapagos fur seals! (The Galapagos fur seals are technically sea lions which our guide said you can distinguish because they have small but identifiable ears.) They were unbelievably adorable and quite curious. Approximately 25,000 of them inhabit the Galapagos Islands.

Sea Lion Galapagos Islands

Once our group gathered around our guide, Williams, he took us on a one-mile hike around the island so we could see more of the incredible wildlife.

Little crabs, including the bright reddish-orange sally lightfoot crabs, were everywhere!

Sally Lightfoot Crab Galapagos

Galapagos Crabs

We were also able to spot quite a few sea turtles from the jagged rocks above.

Galapagos Islands Sea Turtle Santiago Island

sea turtle galapagos island

They are such graceful animals.

As we continued walking, Williams told us all about the lava lizards that frequently darted across the walking trail around the island.

Galapagos Islands Lava Lizard

There are seven species of the lizard on the islands and they can lose their tails three times before it will no longer grow back.

Toward the end of our walk, we stumble upon another sea lion playing in a shallow pool of water.

sea lion galapagos

It rolled around in the water, coming up for air and glancing over at us before taking a deep breath and rolling around in the water again.

After a brief pit-stop at the boat for a snack, we gathered our snorkeling gear and once again boarded the dinghies which took us right off the shore of Santiago Island where we snorkeled for about 45 minutes. The water was clear and we saw tons of fish and shells, but the highlight was snorkeling alongside a sea turtle. Unforgettable! We also saw a giant ray resting at the bottom of the ocean floor. Our snorkel stop got us awfully excited for the next day’s scuba diving adventure!

Once we arrived back on the boat, we ate lunch and relaxed for a bit as the boat sailed to Espumilla Beach.

Espumilla Beach

The sand on this beach was soft and thick and created somewhat of a suction around my feet that felt fantastic. Williams took us on another one-mile hike to see more wildlife and we almost immediately spotted a flamingo.

Galapagos Islands Flamingo

Though I knew flamingos get their color due to their diet and the food that they eat, I didn’t realize that they use their giant bills as a filter, much like a whale, when they eat. Female flamingos lay a single egg that is incubated by both the female flamingo and a male flamingo for approximately 30 days before a baby flamingo hatches.


The most exciting part of our time on the island occurred within the last five minutes of our time on the beach.

Check out this incredible sight!

Baby Sea Turtle Galapagos

A baby sea turtle!

Williams told us the sea turtle likely hatched only minutes before we spotted it and we all gathered around to watch as the little turtle made a beeline from its nest to the ocean.

Galapagos Baby Sea Turtle

Sea Turtle in Water

We knew we were incredibly lucky to watch something so rare and we all rooted for the little turtle to stay safe in the wild waters surrounding the island.

Once the turtle made it into the ocean, we boarded the dinghies back to the boat.


Ross and Leslie

Just as I was about to hop in the shower, Ryan came into our room and asked if I wanted to go for one last swim off the side of the boat with some of our new friends before we set sail for the evening. We had so much fun jumping off the edge and swimming around!


Jumping off boat Galapagos

Galapagos Swimming

My sister’s boyfriend stood on the deck of the boat and snapped some absolutely incredible pictures of Ryan diving off the top of the boat that we all agreed looked almost unreal!

Ryan jumping off boat


I still can’t get over that picture! The tiny bit of ocean in the top right of the picture makes it seem like you can see the curvature of the earth. Such a cool picture!

After spending some time in the water, the boat sailed for a few hours to a new location, passing some incredible lava and rock formations, including the Priest.

The Priest Galapagos Island

Can you see the priest praying? Pretty cool!

Our second day in the Galapagos Islands was definitely a memorable one!

Giveaway Winners

Congratulations to the following giveaway winners…

Florida Blogging and Social Media Conference:

  • Kristina: “I’d like to learn more about blog organization. I blog infrequently right now, but haven’t ruled out the possibility of becoming a more regular blogger in the future so any insights I can tuck away would be helpful!”

Harry & David Tower of Treats:

  • Katie @ Talk Less, Say More: “It would go to my mom – she not only works hard to support our family, but to take care of her own aging mother and step father. My grandmother has sadly become very angry towards my mom (due to her dementia) and her work to take care of her and so she continues to go back with nothing even close to a simple thank you. My mom deserves more than I can explain for all she does.”

Please email me at ASAP!


  1. says

    Wow – all that sea life is amazing! I’m not sure I’d want to randomly walk into a crab or iguana though… that might traumatize me for life, but as long as we all kept our distance. Those pictures of the dives with the blue sky in the background really were amazing. Super spectacular!


  2. says

    I am such a dork, I started crying seeing that baby sea turtle. It’s my dream to see one of those in my lifetime in person and not on some Discovery Channel special. They are so adorable! LOVE the pics of Ryan at the end, that’s awesome!


  3. says

    Omg the baby sea turtle! I’ve always wanted to see one make it’s journey to the ocean! Those pictures of Ryan are awesome, the second one looks like he’s sky diving! It looks like you had a blast!


  4. says

    WOW! Those swimming pictures are absolutely amazing. And the animals you saw!? Too freaking cool! I smiled the entire time reading this post. Glad you are having such a blast :)


  5. Claire says

    What amazing pictures! I’d love to go here, it looks so pristine and picturesque…like a different planet! And yes it totally does look like Ryan is jumping off the earth! Crazy! Glad you had a nice time and that Sadie was well taken care of! That always helps!! :)


  6. Becky says

    I have a pretty hefty list of desired travel destinations but had never considered going to the Galapagos Islands before reading this series of blog posts. It’s definitely on my list now! Your trip looks amazing, from the beautiful scenery to the close-up animal sightings, and I love the idea of taking that boat trip to the islands!


  7. says

    Gorgeous! Can I tell you that my marine biology background was shining through as I was reading this post? First, I was thinking “I think those are galapagos fur seals” then you added your side note..then I was IDing all the sea turtles (you are so blessed to have seen those sea turtles, they all looked like greens, which are one of my favorite species of sea turtles!) I would have died and gone to Heaven if I was there. So jealous, but thank you for sharing your photos with us!


    • Julie @ Peanut Butter Fingers says

      I said that I felt like I was in the middle of a National Geographic magazine the whole time that I was there! It was incredible.


  8. says

    GAH that wildlife! It’s all so incredible! What an awesome opportunity that you got to see so many cool animals! The baby sea turtle especially…so, so cool. Love that you’re posting all these pictures so I can live vicariously through you! :)


  9. says

    So far, this sounds like it would’ve been my favorite day. I absolutely love marine life and one of my favorite things about my last trip to Hawaii was swimming alongside sea turtles. That baby turtle? Oh my gosh so adorable!! Looks like you had an amazing trip Julie!


  10. says

    This is just wildlife heaven. Sea lions, sea turtles, baby turtles, giant iguanas…I’m SOSOSOSO jealous!! It looks so unreal and yet so amazing at the same time.

    The pictures of you guys diving/swimming are pretty awesome, too!


  11. says

    I would absolutely love to have the opportunity to experience all of that! As a teacher it would be really fun to share those experiences and pictures with my students. :) Hope you all have a safe trip back!


  12. Sharan says

    My morning was just made – animals galore! By the way, you’re really good at animal photography. (Not just here, but also at the dog park etc.) If you have time, consider taking a fun evening photography course (via Groupon or something) because I have a feeling you’d really enjoy it. :)


  13. says

    What gorgeous pictures! Thanks for sharing. And sorry Anele, I just laughed out loud at your comment that you “are a dork” because you cried seeing the baby sea turtle. I’m laughing with you, not at you :) He IS an adorable little guy!


  14. Annie says

    oooooh seriously, I have refrained from saying this until now but I am so freakin’ jealous!!!! Those photos are amazing and the wildlife looks fantastic!
    Also, ryan looks like he’s flying in that ast picture!


  15. says

    Oh those pictures are truly incredible…I can’t imagine seeing that baby sea turtle!! My SIM card would’ve been full of him! What a great vacation! You definitely have me wanting to visit there and I’d never even considered it in the past :)


  16. says

    As if it couldn’t be said enough, gorgeous pictures! The pictures of you all diving and swimming are especially unreal. I went on a trip to Sri Lanka a few years back and took a Safari with my family; seeing all these magnificent animals up close is just breathtaking. Don’t show Sadie any of the pictures, she might get jealous!


  17. Bayley Crane says

    Fabulous pictures!! I’m so jealous that you got to see baby sea turtles! That is definitely one of my bucket list items. What a great trip you had! :)


  18. says

    Yay, sea turtle for making it to the water! The odds were against that little guy.

    Sea lions are some of the cutest animals ever but they also freak me out (just a little bit…). Where are your legs, brother? They’re just one long piece of blubber.


  19. says

    Oh my gosh, those baby sea turtles have to be the cutest thing I’ve ever seen. Makes me think of Finding Nemo. Random thought. Looks like you had alot of fun. I am happy that you took so many pictures to share with us!
    Welcome back!


  20. Jenna says

    The Galápagos Islands is one of my dream vacations! Your whole trip sounds amazing and I will be sure to pick your brain for tips when my husband and I go someday :)


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