– Full day tour, pristine beaches, amazing snorkeling – sharks, penguins, sea turtles, sealions, rays…etc….etc…!!
– $120 per person with Academy Bay Dive Centre. * HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
The Pinzón Island Tour was probably the highlight of our trip! When we arrived on the Galápagos, we had considered learning to scuba dive so that we could fully appreciate the sea life around the islands. However, during the Pinzón Island trip, we realised we could see so much just by snorkeling. We didn’t need to fork out lots of money on scuba diving. Snorkeling here more than satisfied our needs! In fact, we spoke to some scuba divers and it turned out we had seen more marine life than they had!
The tour stated at about 9am. We collected our snorkeling kit and then headed off in a bus to the port on the other side of the island (the same port you transfer from when you fly into Baltra airport). There, we met our guide, were introduced to the rest of the group and boarded our boat. We were 6 tourists in total, the guide, the driver of the boat and his son.
We set off on our boat and within half an hour, we reached a rock where we saw lots of blue-footed boobies nesting. We were not supposed to dive here, but our guide was so impressed with how clear the water was, she saw it as an opportunity not to be missed. So, we grabbed our snorkels, jumped in the water and there, swimming about 10 metres away from us, was our first sighting of a shark. And a big one at that. I had not expected to see anything so big on any of our snorkelling trips. I was always told that you needed to do scuba diving or go on a cruise to see the big names of the sea world! It was stunning, fascinating, and also quite terrifying. It was not until we popped our heads above the water to talk to the guide that we then found out what we had just seen. Our first experience of a shark was the second most dangerous shark in the world, the tiger shark! My goodness, it was certainly a heart-stopping and amazing experience. From that point onwards, we were buzzing with adrenaline and awe for the entire rest of the trip!
We continued to snorkel around the cliff face and spot an array of different fish and a few fabulous rays floating below us. We also saw more sharks hiding in the rocks. This time, they were smaller white-tipped reef sharks, but still spectacular and still fear-provoking.
Many people say that sharks are very misunderstood creatures and they shouldn’t be feared. They are not simply out to kill. I definitely agree, and you should have this in mind when encountering a shark. We were informed that sharks will only attack humans if they are starving and are confused, perhaps the water is murky and they mistake you for something else. There are much tastier things in the sea than us human beings, particularly in the Galápagos where there is an abundance of food for them. I’m not sure how reassuring this is for everyone, but I certainly felt safe in my group with our experienced guide. I do believe that sharks are beautiful and fascinating animals, but I still found it impossible not to be scared and weary of them. When going on these snorkelling trips, you have to be prepared to see sharks and other unfamiliar animals that can appear quite menacing. If not, you will miss out on so much. It’s scary, but also, absolutely thrilling.
So, we got back on the boat and continued our journey to a beach on Pinzón Island. A beautiful desert island beach with white sand and the clearest bluest water. It was paradise. We anchored the boat close to the shore and went for a snorkel around the bay. We saw more spectacular colourful fish of all shapes and sizes. And again, we were so lucky, to see another huge shark, a Galápagos shark, swimming only a few metres in front of us! Another invigorating moment, even for the guide whose face was also still beaming when we were talking about the event later on.
We then were given our lunch, a delicious tuna steak which had been cooked fresh on the boat and then some refreshing watermelon. We sat on the beach for a while and enjoyed the warm sand and peaceful surroundings. On the banks of the beach, we could see tracks made from the sea turtles who had laid their eggs the night before. It was just beautiful and so tranquil, feeling a million miles from anywhere and so unbelievably lucky to be there. Unfortunately, however, we couldn’t stay too long on the beach due to the horseflies biting us-and they really do hurt! To avoid them, the best thing to do is to stay underwater, so my boyfriend and I decided to go for another snorkel along the beach. All along the shoreline were millions of small clear fish who surrounded us as we swam through them, as if they were clouds dispersing. With the sun shining through the water, everything sparkled and looked so spectacular. It was dreamlike, such a magical experience. And then, to top it off, a turtle appeared and let us swim alongside him for several minutes. It was such a surreal moment, almost hypnotic. Definitely unforgettable.
As if the trip couldn’t get any better, we still had two more dives left. We sailed to another rock, this time it was covered in sea lions. We anchored the boat and dived in. The water was very clear again, but the current was pretty strong. Some of the sea lions came in the water, curious to see us, but most stayed on the rock and enjoyed the sunshine. We had been warned about the sealions, particularly during mating season, when the males can be extremely aggressive if threatened. Best to keep your distance. If they want, they will come to you and play alongside you. You do not need to chase after them.
So the sealions left us alone, and instead, we enjoyed the clear waters and diverse collection of brightly coloured fish. And, more sharks. Lots of white-tipped reef sharks swimming below us. Incredible.
The final dive on the Pinzón Island tour was another stop by an islet. It’s hard to decide which was the best part of the trip, but this dive may have just topped the others, if that’s possible. We took our time here, swimming slowly along the shallow calm waters around the rock, carefully observing all the different fish and marine life. We saw another sea turtle, starfish, sea horses, cucumbers, snails, rays, etc. Then, three little Galápagos penguins appeared. This particular species are the second-smallest penguins in the world and are extremely cute, and playful. They were so friendly and curious, constantly circling and twirling around us and coming right up to our masks to inspect our faces. They followed us for a good 10 minutes or so. Such a special moment! The guide had never seen anything like it before. Then, just as we were about to get back on the boat, we spotted a sting ray, a very rare sight.
On our way back to Santa Cruz the driver and his son put out a line on the back of the boat and managed to catch a fish. I do not know what type of fish, but it was sizeable. See the picture above. When I asked our guide about the rules of fishing, I was told that they were limited to a strict small number of fish and only of certain species. From what I have read, fishing is obviously very regulated and you need a proper licence to do so on the Galápagos Islands. I really hope this was the case for our fishermen.
So, we headed back to shore exhilarated and on a high, all excitedly recalling what we had seen that day and were just in awe at how lucky we had been. Even the guide couldn’t believe our luck. Of course, I cannot guarantee you would have the same experience, but I would definitely recommend this trip as a must. The guide was very informative and professional, and she truly cared about her job. The driver and his son were also great and looked after us very well. We were told that the tour is quite a new one and not very well known. I’m not sure why, because for us, it was truly awesome. And, unlike many of the other tours, we were the only group there so we had that part of the sea and the beach to ourselves.