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Our 6th day in the Galapagos started out pretty lazily. We were going to go grab some breakfast in town at one of the few restaurants that was open (difficult as it was Easter Sunday) and then head out for a snorkel off one of the nearby wharves.
On our way down to the wharf we stopped in to a shop to enquire about snorkelling trips to a well known spot on Isabaela - Los Tuneles - for the next day. They told us they had no spots tomorrow, however they did have 2 spots left on the trip today, that was leaving right now... We deliberated for half a minute and then decided to jump on the boat.
The people in the store made some calls and within 30 seconds a guy was there picking us up in his ute and taking us down to the dock.
Getting on that boat was the best decision we've made to date on our trip. Hands down. You’ll see why.
The trip was from 8:30am to 2pm and included planned snorkelling at 2 different locations and a walk around on the lava tunnels formed during the last ice age.
As soon as we left the harbour after the days briefing from our guide, the captain opened the engines and we began to fly west around the bottom of the island bouncing over some decent size swells. The first stop was at Union Rock, where we took some photos of the nazca boobies and sea lions lazing about on the large rock formation.
From here we head onwards to our first snorkelling location, which we think was called El Finado (we were too busy looking at all of the animals to write down the names of all the places… oops).
From the boat we could already see lots of turtles sticking their heads out of the water to catch some breath. We were super excited and jumped in the water with the go-pro ready to go.
At this stop we found reef sharks, turtles, fish, sea horses, eels, octopi and much more!
There was so many animals around it was awesome!
I’m not going to go into too much depth about the snorkelling site as I feel the photos speak much louder than words for this one.
After around an hour of some serious exploring and photo taking we hopped back on the boat. We were headed for the next snorkel location, but before we had even been out in the open water for 5 minutes we came across multiple gigantic manta rays!
The captain killed the engines, and we jumped in again and swum around with the huge creatures. Some of them must have had a wing span of at least 5m!
This was incredible and the absolute highlight of our trip so far. At one point there was at least 4 of these amazing animals around me. I can’t even begin to explain the feeling but it was so beautiful to see them in their natural habitat.
Around this time of year (March-April) the islands have lots of manta rays off the coast as they gather to breed. However it is still rare to come across them, the ocean is a huge place!
We all climbed back on the boat unable to stop smiling and not believing how lucky we’d been. The thought of seeing manta rays hadn’t even crossed our minds, and to be able to swim with so many of them was like waking up on christmas morning as a kid to find out santa had brought everything you had asked for and more. Sean and I were so amazingly surprised and extremely grateful considering we’d only jumped on the boat at the last minute that morning!
The boat headed on for another 5 minutes before navigating through the entrance to "Los Tuneles”. Piloting the boat here was a little sketchy because of many submerged rocks and a reef with some 4 foot waves breaking over it.
We jumped in the water again (still both grinning like idiots) and got to explore the outskirts of this area. Here the water was much clearer due to the sand bottom, and we got to see some larger fish, some awesome swim through tunnels, penguins and sea lions sunning themselves on rocks, and plenty of blue footed boobies.
Back in the boat once more and under the skilful guidance of our captain we moved further into the flooded rock maze of the tunnels. We tied up to a small natural lava “bridge” and hopped off onto the rocks. Here we were unable to swim to avoid disturbing the numerous sea turtles swimming along the narrow “turtle highway” through the rock maze. We are led to believe that now is the beginning of turtle nesting season, so were happy to stay dry here and not interfere with them.
We still got to explore a little on foot, crossing several natural lava bridges, seeing plenty of large sea turtles swimming by underneath us, and were able to take plenty of snaps of the comical blue footed boobies. One little guy was even practicing his mating dance for us, which was about on par with watching Sean dance.
Back onto the boat and out through the sketchy channel, we began the 40 odd minute return voyage towards Puerto Villamil.
Many thanks to Rosedelco - our company for the tour, for showing us an awesome time. The guide, captain and crewman helped us to find absolutely every animal we wanted to see (and more), with the minimal disturbance and maximum respect possible to these awesome critters. The lunch of fruit, bikkies and a sandwich wasn’t bad either!
This day has set a seriously high standard for the next 8 months of our trip.. I don't know how anything will compare!
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An Aussie who loves travelling, hiking, trail running and pretty much any activity you can do outdoors.