As the luxury cruiser surges through the gentle waves of the pristine blue Pacific Ocean just after day-break, a large pod of dolphins join the boat on our journey to Bartolomé Island. In front of the boat, hundreds of bottle-nosed dolphins leap and dive, chasing and racing each other through the ship’s breakers. Passengers stand in awe at the front of the boat as this wonderful display of Galapagos marine life welcomes us to Bartolomé. As the boat slows, nearing the island, the dolphins drift away, seeking another competitor.
The air is fresh and crisp, and the day is gloriously sunny. We disembark onto a white sand beach and don snorkeling masks and fins to check out the rest of the underwater critters around spectacular Pinnacle Rock. Nearby, several Galapagos penguins, the smallest in the world, zoom past so quickly we can barely see them. As the sun rises higher, they waddle up to the rocks to sun themselves and show off for the visitors. We snorkel with Pacific green turtles, harmless white-tipped reef sharks, and a rainbow of tropical fish atop an atoll of colorful corals and volcanic lava. After a short rest on the beach, sunning ourselves amidst a dozen dozing sea lions, it is time to climb.
Crossing the molten lava of an island that was born as the result of an undersea volcano eruption millions of years before, our naturalist guide points out cacti and other small desert plants shooting bravely out of the red, orange, green and black volcanic formations. There is little rain here, very hot sun, and no shade at all. Thirsty plants cling precariously to cracks and crevices in the glistening lava, eking out an existence of harsh deprivation and thriving all the same. There are no land animals on Bartolomé, but passing herons visit the sandy beaches.
A short climb to the summit of Bartolomé reveals a spectacular view of Sullivan Bay on Santiago island and a 360-degree view of the vast Pacific Ocean and nearby islands in the magical Galapagos archipelago. It is here, in the bay between the two islands, that certain scenes from the 2003 blockbuster movie Master and Commander were filmed. After drinking in the view from all angles, we descend the island and rest briefly on the beach before sailing away, leaving the cacti to wait for the next rain shower.
Day trips to Bartolomé Island leave from Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz.
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