The day started as usual with a delicious breakfast. The kitchen staff realized how much our girls like hot chocolate and added a hot chocolate carafe on the 24 hour coffee bar!
Our first stop on Floreana was a wet landing (means your feet may get wet getting out of the dinghy). We stopped at a salt marsh to watch a few pink flamingos with their heads under water looking for food. We continued on to Cormorant Bay – a beautiful sandy beach with protected dunes where Pacific Green Turtles nest.
In the first twenty feet of water, stingrays rested on the sand and drifted in and out with the waves. We stood in ankle deep water and counted 8 rays together. When you see this many stingrays in such shallow water, it is understandable why we were told to shuffle our feet in the water – better to bump into a stingray than step on one.
It was fascinating watching the blue-footed boobies diving for fish while the colourful Sally Lightfoot crabs moved with the waves. We could have happily spent much more time here.
After returning to the Galaxy II, we quickly gathered our snorkel gear and hopped back in the dinghies for a 5 minute ride out to The Devil’s Crown, a circular rock formation (volcanic cone) with a cut through the middle. As the current was quite strong, we started on one side and drifted along the outside wall. There were schools of large fish near the bottom (30 to 40 feet) but the current and the swell meant there was not a lot to see near the surface. As we drifted around the outside wall, Tina, Graham, and Alex swam into the cut against the current. Anna and Rachel were quite cold so signalled to the dinghy and were picked up. The depth “inside” the crown was about 20 feet and there were a few more fish; however, they were also fighting the current and were eating organic material as it zipped by. After about 10 minutes with little progress, we decided to go with the flow and got picked up by the dinghy and headed back to the Galaxy for hot showers and lunch.
We motored for about 20 minutes and dropped anchor in Post Office Bay. This area has been used as a communication hub for over 200 years. Pirates and other travellers would drop letters in a “post office barrel” to communicate any news to travellers arriving at a later date. The letters would remain in the barrel until the recipient would land on the island and check the barrel. Sometimes, the letters were used to provide false information. For example, a pirate may leave a letter saying, “Arr matey, we be heading to the east side of Santa Cruz, arr”, when in fact, they would be going to the west side.
Today, tourists drop post cards in the barrel (no stamps allowed), in hopes that someone following will find their card an hand deliver it to the address. So, we bought 5 post cards before we left Santa Cruz, put our names in a hat, we then addressed our cards to the name we drew – we’ll see if the cards ever get delivered.
We continued on to a lava tunnel that was probably about 30 feet underground and 150 feet long. Much of the walk in the tunnel was quite treacherous as the rocky floor was submerged in a foot or two of water. At the end, there was a good sized natural pool with very cool water where we all had a dip.
When we returned to Post Office Bay beach, we were greeted by three Galápagos penguins swimming and fishing in the schools of sardines. We got our snorkel gear on quickly and had a blast swimming with the penguins. They showed no fear and would zip around us (apparently they can swim 60 km per hour) – they seemed as curious of us we were of them.
This certainly was a surprise and a highlight as penguins don’t usually visit this beach in December.
WHAT A DAY!