Cabo Rosa “Los Tunnels” – Isabela, Galapagos Islands
Our final morning on Isabela started with our routine 6:30 AM breakfast in the lobby of our hotel before our pick up to grab snorkel gear and then drop off at the pier. Today was our excursion to Cabo Rosa, also known as Los Tunnels, where lava that once covered the area over millions of years formed an intricate labyrinth of beautiful tunnels.
A 45 minute boat ride docked us against the lava tunnels and we disembarked ontop to find several blue footed boobies nesting and waddling around.
And a great photo opt- thanks to our naturalist guide, Fernando!
We transferred to the snorkel location and immediately met with a penguin perched on a rock close to the boat.
Excited to get into the water, we jumped in quickly and started exploring. Our first sighting the the water was a Galapagas shark!
Fernando led the group around the area knowing in which locations we would be able to spot different wildlife. He promised many sightings of sea turtles since this area is common for nesting and he did not disappoint. Not only did we spot multiple sea turtles but we also saw the largest ones yet- they were enormous!
While the group was fixed on one of the sea turtles below, we stumbled upon a penguin just contently floating on the surface of the water- just hanging out.
The fish in this area were completely different than other areas in shape, color, and number. The density of fish was higher and there were more schools of fish as well. Kevin even found the tiniest plankton that he followed around for awhile.
We swam around the tunnels until we reached a cave with an entry just barely above the water and Fernando dived under to explore. When we came out, he instructed us to approach one by one, he would hold our flipper and guide us into the cave to observe several sleeping Galapagos sharks. While the shark factor was definitely atop Kevin’s fear list, his proximity to Fernando sent him in first. According to his account, as he entered the cave the sharks became alert and curiosity, lurking from their sleeping position of the ground floor towards him. Too big to eat and not a threat, the sharks then ignored Kevin and went back to resting. Fernando educated us that they typically do not hunt for food until 6PM, which is also when the Cabo Rosa park closes for visitors. The sharks seemed pretty relaxed when I had my turn next with several resting on the bottom and one pacing.
The next area we snorkeled was around the mangrove in search for seahorses where even a light tap on the flipper caused mud to cloud the water. The seahorses stay on the bottom attached to the roots to they are difficult to find. Luckily, Fernando was able to spot a few that we dived to see.
With over an hour of snorkeling in this amazing place, the group slowly began boarding the boat. Just as I made my way up the ladder, a five foot manta ray passed right under our boat!
The water here was a bit colder than the other snorkel areas on this trip, so when the crew offered to lay out on top of the boat I happily accepted. I think this was the first and only time we officially sun bathed and it felt incredible to feel the sun dry us off.
Kevin joined me just as we were handed our lunches- a simple sandwich of ham, tomato and cheese. This was the first time my body actively wanted to eat and was excited about it- I devoured this sandwich as if it was the best thing I ever ate. I savored this moment- we were in the beautiful lava tunnels of Cabo Rosa, sunbathing on a boat, surrounded by more wildlife than we could name, and I was eating a sandwich- it was the perfect way to end our excursions on Isabela.
Continue reading about the Galapagos Islands!