When I arrived in the Galápagos I was surprised by the vegetation. When you hear about the Galápagos, it is described as this paradise with a huge amount of vegetation. From first glance it really doesn’t seem like that. Cacti and shrubs dominate the landscape and the black rocks amplify the heat to an extreme. After exploring the island a little more and entering the water, I have realized what a beautiful place it really is. Although sea turtle populations are threatened, snorkeling with a green sea turtle is common place here. Sea lions are hated by the locals because of their abundance on the beaches, large howls, nasty smells. (I still think they are super cute.) Marine Iguanas are not easy to spot while walking along the volcanic rocks, but not because of their abundance. While snorkeling I have seen so many different beautiful fish I can even begin to name them all (plus I don’t know half the names). Sea bird seen include Frigate birds, blue footed boobies, endemic gulls, pelicans, and Nazca boobies.
I have now snorkeled at Leon Dormido or Kicker Rock (the English name) twice. Here you are pretty much guaranteed to see sharks. I saw hammerheads, white tip reef sharks, black tip reef sharks, and Galapagos sharks. The second time I went I thought it was cooler (and scarier) because the sharks were closer to the surface and closer to us. At one point I was diving down looking at all the beautiful fish that go there as well, when I looked up to see a Galápagos shark a meter and a half from me. Face to face, we both swam away quickly. Arguably cooler than the sharks was the school of eagle rays we followed for a bit. The way they swim is so majestic and beautiful it is crazy. Also amazing was a school of fish (forget what type) that seemed to go on forever. I held my breath for as long as I could, allowing them to get acclimated to me and just swim around me. I was literally inside a school of fish. Here there was no shortage of sea turtles as well.
Apart from the rocky shores and cliffs, travel uphill just 400 meters and you are in a completely different ecosystem, the highlands. Here it is like a rain forest. Lush is the name of the game, along with a beautiful freshwater lake volcano. This is where they get all drinking water; no swimming please!
I still need to explore more, and see even more species snorkeling!