We spent our day following Charles Darwin’s steps on Santiago Island, a place he spent nine days exploring. National Geographic Islander dropped anchor at Espumilla Beach. We started early in the morning with invigorating kayaking along the shoreline and a leisurely walk on the beach. I was fortunate to lead the walk on Espumilla. We saw Pacific green sea turtles swimming very close to the shore, as well as a good number of blue-footed boobies and brown pelicans diving for fish. Along the shore, we observed Galapagos mockingbirds and yellow warblers jumping from branch to branch. A juvenile Galapagos hawk stood quietly in the button mangrove while observing us with an exhilarating curiosity and tameness. As we decided to continue our exploration, the juvenile hawk decided to follow and constantly looked to us for our attention, as if trained to do so! The hawk followed until we boarded the ship. It was a fantastic moment!

Guests enjoyed the final opportunity to snorkel in Buccaneer Cove, where they saw large schools of colorful fish. Today the fish swam close to the surface to feed on plankton. Captain Alexis del Salto repositioned the ship toward James Bay. Expedition leader Socrates Tomala gave a talk about Charles Darwin, and then we disembarked on the black sandy beach. Everyone enjoyed time to swim or practice stretching with our wellness specialist, Stefania. Several guests took out their snorkeling gear and were not disappointed. They spotted sea lions, silver reef sharks and colorful fish!

We put our shoes back on, and off we went for a walk along the coastal area. This is the only place to find Galapagos fur seals on land, right by a place known as “the grottos,” or collapsed lava tunnels that once reached the ocean. We saw Galapagos marine iguanas, American oystercatchers and striated herons. To the delight of our guests, several sea lion pups posed for the cameras. It was the last day of our expedition, and what a fantastic trip! The Galapagos Islands offer adventure and pristine nature!