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!
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!
How cool are marine iguana tracks?
The sun-drunk expressions on the marine iguanas’ faces absolutely cracked me up.
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.
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!
We were also able to spot quite a few sea turtles from the jagged rocks above.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
Can you see the priest praying? Pretty cool!
Our second day in the Galapagos Islands was definitely a memorable one!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org ASAP!