In an attempt to explore a few more nooks and crannies of the Galapagos Islands, we decided to take a day trip to San Cristóbal. This island is the most eastern island and thus one of the oldest as the islands are a volcanic chain. Instead of opting for an expensive excursion to the island, we decided to do it on our own. After a quick two-hour boat ride, we were on the island, ready to explore.
The biggest draw on San Cristóbal is a great place to snorkel called Kicker Rock or León Dormido. This is a giant rock in the water off the coast of the island in which a great amount of hammerhead sharks congregate. This is really the only place in the Galapagos to snorkel or dive with hammerhead sharks. When our intention was to link up with a tour to visit sharks, all of the tours had already left by the time that we had arrived. This will be my reason to return to the islands.
As a change of plans, we decided to visit a beach called La Loberia. On this beach resides a sea lion colony. This was not merely one sea lion frolicking in the ocean. It was not even a group of ten playing together. There were more like 100 sea lions on the beach sunning themselves or swimming in the water playing. Observing these creatures was incredible. They are so graceful in the water, spinning and twirling. But, out of the water they are very clumsy, taking frequent breaks as they slowly edge up the sand. The best part was that aside from the bull or the alpha male of the group, the sea lions were extremely friendly! I was able to get within a foot of them without bothering them. In fact, as I was snorkeling I had just spotted a sea turtle merely one foot beneath me. I was hovering over him to watch him for a few minutes when two sea lions came right up within feet of me. They wanted to play. They followed me and spun around me, but I was a little bit frightened and went back to shore. Evidentially they love goofing around with snorkelers. On a few occasions when we were back on shore attempting to catch a few rays, a sea lion would storm over and wake me up with his barking just before he attempted to take over my towel. The entire interaction with the sea lions was unbelievable, and I was so glad that the initial tour did not work out so that I was able to have this experience.
Our time on the island was short, as the boats returned to Santa Cruz before dark (on the equator we have sunshine from 6am until 6pm). But, our time on San Cristóbal provided us with an invaluable encounter with a remarkable species.