Tag Archives: Sea Lions

San Cristobal Island

After our cruise we were fortunate enough to have three more nights in the Galapagos in the town of Puerto Baquerizo.  This is a small, sleepy port city on the island of San Cristobal.  I’d call it the unofficial capitol of sea lions. They were everywhere; in the street, on the boardwalk, on the benches, etc.  The city has built an ineffective fence to keep them out, but it seems as though the sea lions follow the saying “where there’s a will there’s a way”. Ha! The beach is covered in huge males, sleepy females, and tons of small little pups.

staircase of sea lions baby eating drew and his harem pup

The males are constantly fighting over the harem leader position.  They roam their boarders making horrible noises and taking out any male who tries to butt in.  This doesn’t last long though because they have to patrol 24 hours a day they aren’t able to eat or sleep much, so their rein usually only lasts about 4 weeks.

big boy big papa

The sea lions and their pups weren’t always cute.  In fact most of the time they were loud, stinky, snotty, and covered in flies.  I’ve decided the sounds they make are similar to a zombie vomiting (if you can imagine that).  It really is pretty unappealing…even the little baby pups have an odd guttural call when they want their mom.  Regardless, it was super fun to see them all the time and in such huge numbers!

It rained often during our time there, but when you are snorkeling it really doesn’t matter.  There were numerous beaches you could walk to that were perfect for underwater sight seeing.  The first beach we were at had one lone sea lion perusing the waters, a turtle and lots of fish. Sick of seeing picture of sea turtles yet? They were everywhere and we can’t help posting pics of them…they were such cool creatures to watch.

sea turt Playa Mann

We weren’t seeing much else, so we decided to pack up and go to the next beach.  Here the waters weren’t as smooth as the last place and the water was churned up. This made the visibility low, but it didn’t really matter because there were sea turtles everywhere and they didn’t mind if you got close! We also saw our first swimming/diving marine iguana while we were snorkeling. What an odd sight!

drew and a turt swimming iguana

Our time in the Galapagos has come to an end. WHAT A WONDERFUL EXPERIENCE!!! The world is changing quickly and we feel blessed that we were able to witness these awesome creatures and islands while they were still around.  We will be back!! Colombia is our final destination before we head home for Christmas. Can’t wait : )

8 days on the Eden – Days 5 – 8

Day 5

Today was a transition day. There were 12 people from our boat disembarking and 12 more joining the fun. It wasn’t exactly a smooth transition, but eventually everyone got to where they needed to be. In the morning Drew and I were dropped off in Puerto Ayora (where we spent the first 3 days exploring), so we decided to take advantage of having the internet to send some emails and call home to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving!

In the afternoon we went with a small group to the Santa Cruz Highlands where there are many Giant Tortoises roaming around in their natural habitat. We found this experience to be much better than viewing them at the Darwin Nature Center! It was really nice to go there with our tour guide because he gave us lots of fun information about the tortoises. Information such as tortoises don’t mate until they are 40 years old!! Crazy!

Once we hopped on the boat again we had all 16 passengers on board. This time there were people from Chicago, Austria, Spain, Germany, Chile, and Australia. It was fun getting to know some more people and hear their stories. It should be a fun next couple of days.

Tonight will be a quiet one until about 2 a.m. because that is when we pull up anchor to head towards Floreana Island. Hopefully, we will sleep through the rough seas this time!

Day 6

So it turns out that long night navigations in the Galapagos aren’t too enjoyable. Similar to the navigation to and from Genovesa Island, we got rocked and rolled for the majority of the night again. I would like to say that we are pros at this by now, but it still stinks. Both of us have figured out how to ensure we don’t get sick, but that doesn’t make it any easier to sleep. Apparently we were not the only ones. At breakfast everyone was pretty blurry eyed from a lack of sleep. Kind of a rough start to the day.

The fortunate thing for all of us is that our day quickly became great! When we woke in the morning we were anchored off the north side of Floreana Island. Floreana has a unique history from whalers and pirates to German settlers to missing people and the like. A few of the stories are worth googling.

After breakfast we started the day with a nice panga (small boat) ride and then took a fairly short walk up to an amazing lookout platform named Baroness Lookout. It is one of the most picturesque sights I have enjoyed. In addition to the water and different color hues, there were sea turtles and sea lions playing in the cove below. VERY COOL!

Genovesia Island from Baroness Lookout


And what was next to the panga when we got back to the beach? A very curious and playful young sea lion. Autumn took some great photos from about 5 feet away.

Just sitting

Next, it was on to Post Office Bay. This is a pretty neat story as well. When the English Whalers first came to the Galapagos one of the ships put an old rum barrel on the shore of this bay which was used to send mail back to England. If a ship was going home, they would grab the contents of the barrel and hand deliver it to the recipients. The tradition is still carried on today. We went through every post card in the barrel and there was one addressed close to where we live so, we grabbed it and will hand deliver it. Here comes your post card Inver Grove Heights! After going through all of the postcards, we dropped ours in the barrel. Supposedly it takes around 3 weeks for someone to deliver the postcard, but we shall see!

post office bay
Next up for the day… Snorkeling. And GREAT snorkeling at that. In our 45 minute snorkel we saw loads of fish, probably 15 sea turtles, 4 sharks, numerous stingrays, several big puffer fish, a sea lion or two, and lots more. One of the sea turtles we saw was a huge male that was probably 6 feet long from head to tail. It was almost as big as me!

sea turtle fish boarding the panga at post office bay

In the afternoon we did another great snorkel at the Devil’s Crown. It had even more fish than the snorkel in the morning. On one place in particular, the ocean bottom looked covered in a blanket of fish.

carpet of fishcolorful starfishblue fish

Oh, and we saw penguins too!


Finally, we wrapped up our most amazing day in the Galapagos with a hike to a beautiful white sand beach complete with sea turtles and sting rays EVERYWHERE! There were turtles nesting on the beach, turtles mating in the water, and turtles surfing waves. Totally amazing. There were also stingrays all over in the surf close to the shore. At first I thought they were rocks, but when I finally got a good look at them it turned out there were all different sizes from plate size to 3 feet across.

sufing turtles turtle and autumn best day ever

This was by far my favorite day in the Galapagos. I hope tomorrow brings more of the same!

sunset sunset

Day 7

We started our seventh day on Espanola Island. This island is known for the Waved Albatross (think The Rescuers Down Under…I did at least). We hiked around searching for them, but instead ran into many baby sea lions, marine iguanas, & Nazca Boobies. Many people had HUGE, expensive cameras on this trip. We had our fairly basic camera and it didn’t matter because the animals in all of the Galapagos are SO CLOSE and numerous that even we got good photos most of the time.

curious pup

The playful sea lion pups varied in size and age, but most were between one week and one month old. So cute!! Unfortunately, for them, the flies loved them too! The waters are a bit warmer than normal which isn’t good for marine animals because the amount of fish declines. If mother sea lions can’t find enough food for themselves, then they will abandon their cute, furry babies. So, we spent a little too much time concerned about whether the baby was sad and looking for his mommy or just making weird noises for the fun of it.


We walked to the top of the cliffs and found many Waved Albatross! They stay high on the cliffs, so their not-so-graceful selves can take off and land easier. They basically barrel in and trip over their huge feet while attempting to land.

cliffs of espanola island waved albatross

Then, we went to the beach to snorkel with sea lions, sea snakes, sting rays, sea turtles, and many other fish.

snorkeling nerdy fish sting ray

After lunch we cruised for 4 hours to San Cristobal Island. At this time I slept….I can’t seem to fight the “bug” I have, so I’m on antibiotics hoping some rest and meds will help. Drew sat at the front of the boat and enjoyed the awesome weather, jumping manta rays, and sea lions. Tomorrow is our last day…crazy!!!

Day 8

Our last day on the Eden. While we have really enjoyed our time on the yacht, both Autumn and I are excited about the prospect of being back on land and sleeping in a stable bed. Today started with a 7am wake-up call for a jump on the pangas and a morning snorkel around Kicker Rock. These two huge rocks are the left overs of a volcanic cone and compose the nearly sheer cliffs down into the deep blue.

kciker rock kicker rock

Honestly, my first thought when we got in the water and looked down was “This must be where they came up with the phrase Davey Jones’ locker.” I mean seriously, it was incredibly beautiful, but there was nothingness below us. Kind of crazy! As we same around the wall of rock, there were lots of different types of fish stratified at various depths. The smaller fish were closest to the surface with progressively larger fish at subsequent depths. Among the bigger fish was a large school of Black Fin Tuna patrolling.

We had been told that we might see sharks on the snorkel and we weren’t disappointed. Up to this point we had only seen white tipped reef sharks. This time we saw black tipped reef and best of all…. THREE HAMMERHEADS!!! Holy crap! Apparently Hammerheads are quite shy and will swim away if they see you (which is the opposite of what I had previously heard). Anywho, they were good sized, around 6 ft in length, but not too large where I was concerned about being eaten. I will admit that the da dum, da dum from Jaws was going through my head.

hammer head hammerhead shark galapagos shark

We also saw several sea turtles flying effortlessly through the water. The deep blue of the water makes for a good picture frame!


After the snorkel it was back on the boat to make our way to port to disembark. It truly was an amazing trip with beautiful animals to see both above and below the water.

Galapagos Notes:

For those of you that may be interested we would be happy to pass along more insight of how and when to go. A few things to keep in mind though:

1) No matter which islands you visit, if you are doing a longer voyage (5-8 days) you will have some long navigations which are quite rocky. Definitely not for those which get sea sick easily.

2) The vast majority of the cruises have a snorkel element to them. Typically 1 -2 times per day. If you are not up for snorkeling I recommend not going to the Galapagos. There are some interesting things to see on land, but you probably will only get about 40% of the experience.

3) It is very true that you can get much better deals booking a last minute cruise once you are in the Galapagos (ours was 50% less), but you are at the mercy of what’s available. Sometimes that can be good, other times things are very limited.

4) Unless you are going to spend 3 – 4 weeks in the Galapagos, you will not be able to see all of the islands. Our Cruise hit the central, southern, and western islands. This is a choice you will have to make. We did not see Isabella Island. I guess we will have to save that for another trip.

Puerto Ayora – Galapagos

Day 1:

We arrived in Puerto Ayora, Galapagos after 1 taxi ride, 3 plane rides, 1 ferry ride and 2 bus rides. To say we were excited to get there is an understatement! Drew and I have had the Galapagos at the top of our “list” for many years. We had a few things on the to-do list before we could really dive in deep to the natural wonders of the island (aka get a hotel, sleep, eat, & shower).

After meeting our basic needs we knew we had one big ticket item to check off….finding a last-minute cruise. AHHHHHHHH! Exciting, stressful, & tedious are the words we would use to describe this task. We knew we would have to be flexible, haggle down the price, and keep our eyes open for sketchy business. After visiting 6 tour shops we seemed to find the best option for us. We weren’t quite ready to “say yes to the cruise” without getting back to the hotel to do a little research (forking over that huge amount of cash is a big deal). About 30 minutes later we returned to the tour company ready to book…only to find out the cruise was full!!! There were numerous couples walking around Puerto Ayora doing the same thing we were and somebody snatched up our cruise at a different tour company. DAMMIT! We kept our cool as our tour agent frantically called around to different boats. He awesomely found us a similar cruise, in First Class, for the same price we were going to pay with the “tourist superior” class. YAHOOOO!!!

The next step was to pay. Easy right? Nope. We knew they charged a large fee for using credit cards, but thought we’d keep it easy on ourselves and pay half in cash and put half on our credit card. This agency did not accept credit cards at all (insert a picture of us pretending to play it cool). So, we left, maxed out all of our daily limits for our atm cards, carried copious amounts of money in my money belt, and walked back to agency to hand over a very tall stack of cash (the ATMs don’t give our hundreds..). Ta-da! It was such a relief to have the cruise booked, so we could get to to the “enjoying” part of the Galapagos! But, first a celebratory drink and then MORE SLEEP.

Day 2:

After a good night’s sleep we woke up early-ish to begin our day. We found a nice little café that served American breakfast; complete with hash browns, bacon, eggs, juice and coffee. Not too shabby. After breakfast we started our walk towards the Charles Darwin Center, about 15 minutes from our hotel. This was really our first chance to start seeing some of the wildlife native to the Galapagos. During this short walk we were treated to sea lions hanging out at a small fish market, as well as Marine Iguanas and crabs all over the place. The sea lions were ridiculous as they were literally nudging up against the people cleaning and selling fish to get the scraps.

Marine Iguanas Sally Lyford Crabs

As we approached the entrance to the center, there were Iguanas lounging all over the place. They also seemed to be perfectly content to let us get close and take some pictures. The Charles Darwin Center itself is a fairly big area with lots of labs, mangroves, rocky beaches, gardens and tortoise sanctuaries. Unfortunately, they were doing some construction which limited our access. Nonetheless, we got our first look at Galapagos Tortoises and were thoroughly impressed.

Up close crab Giant Tortoises Swimming Marine Iguana

After a little siesta in the afternoon we walked to Ninfa Lagoon another recommendation near Puerto Ayora. While it was very serene and full of mangroves, there was not much wildlife to see. We spent about an hour there before we decided to make our way back to the main pier to watch the sunset. The pier was a great time with lots of wildlife to watch, including another sea lion that looked like he had a cold (sniffly nose and runny eyes). Our suspicions were confirmed when he sneezed toward Autumn and hit her legs with some snot rockets. I laughed, but Autumn didn’t think it was as funny. 🙂 After a quick stop for snacks it was back to the hotel to blog and attempt to post past blogs (wifi in the Galapagos is the shittiest we’ve experienced, but oddly enough we don’t mind).

Sea lion on a bench

Day 3

We awake to day 3 of super cloudy weather and are starting to wonder if that is just how things are going to be here. We’ve only had about 5 minutes of sun for the past 2 days we were here and really no rain to go with the clouds. Luckily, the weather is warm and humid, so the sun really would be just an added bonus. Today we are headed to the infamous Tortuga Bay. The entrance is only a ten minute walk from our hotel, but after that you must take a 30-40 minute path to reach the water. The path is surrounded by cacti, other dry shrubs, and volcanic rocks. Many creepy-crawly creatures skitter by as we are walking…some sort of salamander.

Once we reach the beach we knew it was well worth the walk. Our first glimpse is of powdery, white sand and huge rolling waves. This first area is strictly for brave surfers; no swimming allowed. We carved out a seat on part of the sand dune wall, so we could take in the salty breezes and awesome ocean views.

Chillin'Nothing like walking in the surf

As with much of the Galapagos, so far, there were many iguana friends. They are a sight to see when they are fighting the ocean currents in search for green and red algae. They blend in really well with the black lava rock, so they can sometimes be difficult to spot unless they are in the sand.

What are you looking at?

After listening to the loud roar of the immense waves we decided to move 15 minutes down the beach to the swimming bay. The quiet of this bay was a pleasant change and many other people agreed with us. Fortunately the beach was large and we didn’t have any issues finding a place to lounge. As we walked the beach we saw a baby shark of some sort, sting rays, and other small fish. Snorkeling wasn’t meant to be due to one faulty mask and murky water. This beach did offer a path along a cliff with many animals to view and a small, secluded beach.

Beautiful lady and beautiful spot!Lava ledge

The walk back down the beach was as beautiful as ever : )


After a long and wonderful day at the beach we decided to treat ourselves to a huge feast! We went to a local restaurant and ordered the Isla Platter which consisted of grilled: tuna, steak, shrimp, calamari, pork, chicken, asparagus, broccoli, and potatoes. YUUUMMM! Life is good!

Day 4:

More clouds this morning, but we know not to let it concern us; exploring must continue! We took a water taxi across Finch Bay (5 minutes) to start our hike to Las Grietas. This hike brought us through stagnate ponds, and a giant cactus forest to two giant lava rock fissures filled with brackish water. Here we found clear, cool water that was great for a serene snorkel. There weren’t extreme species, but we say an eel, and a few schools of fish. The lava rocks jutted up at many levels creating the effect of making the paths nearly impassable, but by contorting our bodies a bit we were able to make it through.

Las Grietas Las Grietas

There was a small hike through the giant cactus forest and to an overlook. We were able to see many turtles popping out of the water and a few iguanas swimming for lunch. So cool!

Our free “show” for the evening was watching a fishing boat come into the fish market area. We were not the only ones in the audience…many other tourists, sea lions, pelicans, and other birds were rapt with interest. The fisherman dug through their large, iced cooler to pull out 30-40 fish of different kinds. This got the attention of 20 or so hungry birds who proceeded to hover, circle, and swoop towards the boat. The sea lions on the other hand mounted the stairs to wait patiently by the fish market. Once the men started to filet the fish things started to get very interesting!!! They would throw the leftovers over the side of the boat and all hell would break loose! 95% of the fish parts never hit the water; they were pulverized by the lucky bird who managed to gulp the large pieces in 2 seconds flat. If it took longer than 2 seconds they were overtaken by his closest three “friends”. It was a quite the spectacle! Oh AND we saw a seal lion pup nursing!


That evening we picked up our wet suits, snacks, extra sunscreen (never ever buy sunscreen in the Galapagos….most normal sized bottles were priced at $25. We bought a 3 oz bottle for $11. WHOA.), and some booze to bring with us on our 8 day cruise. YAHOOO!!!!