Early in the morning we disembarked on a pre-breakfast outing to the top of Bartholomew Island. This island allowed us to travel back in time to experience an island the Galapagos in its early stages of development before it had a complex ecosystem established.
During the hike, we learned about the geology of the islands, from lava tubes to eroded craters in a lunar-like landscape. Those of us who did not choose to go a hike went on a Zodiac exploration along the coast of Batholomew and were able to spot a few Galapagos penguins resting on the shore.
After breakfast, we went beach snorkeling and deep-water snorkeling. We were delighted by the opportunity to swim with Galapagos penguins. These endemic birds were very curious, swimming with us for a few minutes as they fed on sardines. Several white-tipped reef sharks were also spotted while snorkeling as well as a couple of playful Galapagos sea lions and large schools of fish.
After lunch, we navigated towards Chinese Hat. This small visitor site is a satellite islet of Santiago Island. During the afternoon we went deep-water snorkeling with Galapagos penguins, tiger snake eels, large schools of fish, Pacific green sea turtles, and even an octopus or two. The water was calm, and we had excellent visibility to explore the seas.
After snorkeling some of us opted for a Zodiac cruise along the coast of Santiago and Chinese Hat. We had golden light from a spectacular sunset which contributed to great photographs of penguins and brown pelicans resting on the black lava fields.