According to Trip Advisor, Las Tintoreras is the second best thing to do on Isla Isabela. We landed in the morning and booked this trip to start two hours later in the afternoon at $40 USD pp – cash, of course. It is a quick jaunt from the wharf. En route we saw eight or nine eagle rays and three green turtles in the first few minutes.
Then we saw two GALAPAGOS PENGUINS! They were sitting on the rocks. We didn’t see them at first as they are only 30 cm high and blended in with the lava rock so well. We were all in such awe; my eyes welled. We excitedly watched, photographed, and recorded from our small boat for the next 10-15 minutes while the odd ray swam by. Just before we left, a third penguin darted by in the water. It was amazing. These penguins are the northern most penguin and only found in the Galapagos Islands. They are common on the western side of the island only accessible by 16 passenger cruise. It was a very special treat to see these indeed!
Las Tintoreras itself is a number of lagoons that are formed by black lava that poke out of the sea. We walked along a trail atop the lava; the jagged lava formations/ landscape spread before us seemed like another planet. Another few minutes along the trail we came to a narrow grotto where you can view Tintoreras (white-tipped sharks). Along the 75m grotto were about 25 sharks resting in the warm shallow waters below. At times, the territorial damsel fish would swim towards the sharks encouraging them to stay away.
We then walked a little further, watching not to step on two baby lava lizards, to a beautiful sandy cove surrounded by black lava. Here four adult sea lions and one pup rolled in the water and made their way from water to beach and back. Marine iguanas moved along with them; neither species seemed to pay attention to each other. Near the end of our looping trail we saw a turtle slowly cruising and surfacing in a lagoon.
The tour ended with a 45 minute lagoon snorkel. The water was a pretty aqua blue and although it looked inviting, it was cold. The highlights of this snorkel included two very large porcupine fish, 6-8 green turtles, and two baby stingrays. The best part for all of us was a swim through a 75 m narrow lava grotto with a sandy bottom, depths of 4 to 12 feet, and lots of damselfish, parrot fish, and sergeant majors.
What a great tour! If this is ranked as the second best trip on Trip Advisor, I can’t wait to do the number one ranked tour, Los Tuneles.