Isla Espanola

Isla Espanola landscape © Jin Liew

Isla Espanola is a dramatic island with cliffs rising in the south and its position in the south-east of the archipelago. It is one of the oldest, dating to approximately four million years and due to the flatness of the island, it is the driest of these islands, with only a few inches of rain per year.

Isla Espanola © Linda Hartskeerl
Isla Espanola © Linda Hartskeerl
Isla Espanola – the high ground on the island

A group of young sea lions playing in the shallows of the harbour were guarded by a large (and loud) male in the deeper water.

Sea lions playing in the shallows – Isla Espanola

Due to its location and age, the animals on Isla Espanola have different characteristics to those on other islands. Isla Espanola’s marine iguanas are coloured red and green and love to gather in larger groups in order to share body heat and the morning sunlight.

Marine iguanas warming up – Isla Espanola © Linda Hartskeerl
Marine iguana – Isla Espanola © Linda Hartskeerl

Despite being late in the season there were a few groups of waved albatross which were nesting on the cliff tops. We spotted a protective mum guarding her infant and an individual shaking their feathers out.

Waved albatross – Isla Espanola
Waved albatross – Isla Espanola
Waved albatross – Isla Espanola © Linda Hartskeerl

With new bird identification skills, we spotted Nazca boobies (mother and chick), a Galapagos hawk (on the ground and in-flight), a brown ground finch and Hood mockingbird.

Brown pelican – Isla Espanola
American oyster catcher – Isla Espanola
Lava lizard – Isla Espanola
Sally light foot crab – Isla Espanola © Linda Hartskeerl

Bahia Gardner is the perfect picture postcard! It has a white sand beach with beautiful crystal clear waters, sea lions basking in the sand. The sand was small and wonderful underfoot, free of shells, seaweed and plastic. It quickly changes with large volcanic rocks halfway along the beach represented the limits of access.

Bahia Gardner – Isla Espanola © Linda Hartskeerl

The strict rules of the National Park were brought to life when a few members of our group unknowingly wandered beyond the marked area. Our guide had to radio back to the boat’s zodiac which was then dispatched to guide them back to the permissible area. This incident would then end up in the weekly report to the National Park from our guide and another guide who were also on the beach with us.

Bahia Gardner – Isla Espanola

While snorkelling off Isla Espanola we were close to a group of sea lions, a large male sea lion sent a clear message that we were too close and took a cheeky nip on the arm of group member. Watching a sea lion play underwater is really special, they are able to dive almost to the sea-floor, spin and quickly rise in a truly elegant display of underwater gymnastics!

Bahia Gardner – Isla Espanola

There were also sea turtles feeding on the seaweed near the bottom of the sea. We saw different types of fish in a few hundred meters depending on how close we were to the cliffs, the caves or the depth of the seafloor.

Bahia Gardner, Isla Espanola © Jin Liew

Sailing on in the evening, we were followed by a group of frigate birds, who were more than happy when the boat released some food scraps into the ocean.

#buckletlist; #Galapagos; #travel; #nature; #landscape; #adventure; #intrepidtravel

Travel date: 28 December 2018

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