Morning’s golden embrace gave way as National Geographic Endeavour II anchored off the serene coast of Española Island. The promise of the day ahead was palpable. We were excited to visit two awe-inspiring locations: Gardner Bay in the morning, and Punta Suárez in the afternoon.

Gardner Bay, with its pristine stretch of white-sand beach, was a sight to behold. Here, sea lions played the hosts. Older ones sunned themselves nonchalantly while younger pups gamboled about, their eyes brimming with playful energy. However, the ocean beckoned with its mysteries beneath. Snorkeling in these crystalline waters was like stepping into another realm. Vibrant fish flitted about, their brilliant scales refracting sunlight into transient rainbows. Some of us had the heart-stopping pleasure of encountering tranquil sea turtles and the silhouettes of sharks, as their majestic forms moved gracefully through the depths.

After a morning full of oceanic wonder, we returned to the ship and anticipated the day’s next chapter: Punta Suárez. With its contrasting terrains and dramatic cliff views, the rugged beauty of this locale was captivating. Marine iguanas, with their prehistoric appearance, lounged everywhere, occasionally grumbling and spitting salt. The sky played canvas to the elegant albatrosses, their expansive wings cutting through the air with grace. Nevertheless, it was the sea lions, in their playful abandon on the rocks and shores, that captured the true essence of Punta Suárez.

As the afternoon wore on and we began our journey back to National Geographic Endeavour II, nature had one more spectacle in store. A thin drizzle began to fall, casting a gossamer veil over the landscape. The light rain added an ethereal quality, making the vistas of Punta Suárez even more dramatic. It was as if the island itself was bidding us a misty, enchanting farewell.

Back on board, the drizzle painted the ship's deck with tiny pearls, and we gathered to reminisce. The conversations flowed, stories of the day’s adventures intermingling, laughter echoing against the backdrop of the setting sun. The day had been transformative, each moment a testament to the wild beauty of Española Island.

As night embraced the ship, the shared sentiment was clear: profound happiness, and a connection with nature that would be cherished for a lifetime. The raw beauty of Española, combined with its capricious weather and incredible wildlife, had imprinted its memories onto each heart.