Our schedule is quite regimented. Here's our daily schedule:
7AM - Breakfast
8AM - Go to first island
11AM - Return to boat for snack
12PM - Lunch
2PM - Visit second island
Between 5 and 6PM - Return to boat
6:30PM - Nightly briefing for next day's activities
7PM - Dinner
8:30 - 9PM - Go to bed!
With our certified naturalist guide, Wilo (pronounced Willow), we visit two islands each day. This is the maximum number of islands that can be visited per day as regulated by the National Park Reserve. The mandatory guide to visitor ratio is 1:20.
In the morning we visited South Santa Cruz. The area is also called Cerro Dragon or Dragon Hill. We saw flamingos, land and marine iguanas, pelicans, blue-footed bobbies (now I understand what the `I Love Boobies' t-shirts mean!), sea lions, and my first shark, from the shore, of course.
The older passengers are hilarious. Not to be offensive, but it's like travelling with children (I mean this in a good way). They get so excited about anything and everything. Many of them are avid bird watchers and had their binoculars and bird books in tow. Also, they had amazing stamina! They definately gave me a run for my money!
In the afternoon we went to Rabida Island, the only island with a red sandy beach. Besides the amazing colour of the sand against the intense aqua-colored water, the sea lions were the highlight. I even went swimming with them!! What an experience.
Sea lion colonies are made up of mostly females and their young. It wasn't too hard to spot the dominant bull male - he was the one making the rounds both in the water and on land keeping everyone in line!
I had only been in the water for about 15 minutes when another small boat pulled up and dropped of a small group of visitors. As the boat was going past me, the operators, who were locals, started yelling,"SHARK, SHARK". I almost went into shock as I envisioned a large dorsal fin heading straight for me, but I managed to pull it together and madly swam for shore, only to learn that it was a joke. They were just trying to be funny and didn't intend to scare me. I don't think they would have done that if they'd known that I haven't swam in the ocean for over 15 years due to my intense fear of sharks. That was it for me for the rest of the day. I just couldn't go back in.
While we were having dinner later that night we heard seals barking from the back of the boat. We ran outside to find two stowaways lounging on the back of the boat! How sweet.