- 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
The excursion begins just a short distance beyond the tide pools and heads to the fur seal grotto. Fur seals and sea lions can be seen swimming in the rocky lava-ringed pools. This may be the only opportunity visitors have to see and swim with fur seals. Fur seals were once hunted to near extinction for their coats. The Galapagos Fur Seal is the smallest of the fur seals found in the southern hemisphere, now compared in numbers with the sea lions. During the day they hide from the hot equatorial sun in shelves or caves of the rocky lava cliffs. At night they feed on squid and fish avoiding the sharks, which are their natural predator. The crystal clear water, volcanic bridges, fur seals, and sea lions make this a magnificent place for swimming and snorkeling. Visitors who now come to Espumilla Beach mostly do so in search of birds rather than water. A short walk inland takes visitors through a mangrove forest normally inhabited by the common stilt. Sea turtles also visit these mangroves to nest. Beyond the mangroves is a brackish lagoon where flocks of pink flamingos and white-cheeked pintails can be seen. The trail makes a loop heading over a knob into a sparely forested area then back to the beach. Along the way, those with a watchful eye may spot a variety of Darwin finches or a vermilion flycatcher. Once back at the beach visitors may have the chance to swim or snorkel time permitting.
Less than an hour north of Puerto Egas, Buccaneer Cove served as a safe haven for pirates, sailors, and whalers during the 18th and 19th centuries. Anchoring in the protected bay they were able to make much-needed repairs to their ships while other men went ashore to stock up on salt, tortoises, fresh water, and firewood. Several years ago ceramic jars were found at the bottom of the bay, the disregarded cargo of some mariner from years ago. Inside the jars were supplies of wine and marmalade. Few boats stop at Buccaneer Cove today. Many cruise by at a slow speed giving visitors the opportunity to view the steep cliffs made of tuff formations and the dark reddish-purple sand beach. This dramatic landscape is made all the more impressive by the hundreds of seabirds perched atop the cliffs. Two of the more recognizable rock formations are known as the "monk" and "elephant rock". A large population of feral goats now frequents Buccaneer Cove and this portion of Santiago. The National Park Service has fenced off part of the area to protect the native vegetation from the destructive eating habits of this introduced species. A wet landing on the large coffee-colored sand beach is just north of the prized fresh water supply that once attracted pirates and whalers.
Morning activities: Wet landing Espumilla Beach, Panga boat ride to Buccaneer Cove, and Deep water snorkeling.
In the afternoon, a visit to Puerto Egas begins with a wet landing on the dark sand beaches of James Bay. Taking a walk along the rocky coast offers visitors the opportunity to view some of the Galapagos Island's best tide pools. Sponges, snails, hermit crabs, barnacles, and fish including the endemic four-eyed blenny can be seen. The walk also presents visitors with a variety of shore birds, marine iguanas, sally light foot crabs, and sea lions.
Afternoon activities: Visit Puerto Egas, nature walk, salt mines and fur seal grotto, and Shallow water snorkeling.