Isla Genovesa, Darwin’s Bay and Prince Phillip’s steps
Overnight was the longest single motor trip we would take. We had put on patches for sea sickness upon arrival and never had any problem. There was some rocking of the ship during the trip and it was interesting to walk in the cabin in the middle of the night. Before dawn we were anchored at Isla Genovesa (also known as Tower Island) and looking forward to the busy day.
Having been to the Hawaiian Islands near the equator which have lots of rain forest areas, it was very surprising to see that most of the islands were quite arid and many types of cactus grew on each island. Genovesa is a rather flat island.
The island forms around the caldera of an old volcano that has collapsed. At Darwin’s Bay we are inside a collapsed volcano.
Today we realized what a great job the Park Service does to give each group a unique experience. While multiple boats were in Darwin’s Bay each boat had specific times to be on the island and to keep all tours separate.
We arrived at Darwin’s Beach for a hike and then snorkeling. This was a wet landing. This means you will jump or slide off the panga into about knee deep water so you bring anything that must stay dry in your own small dry bag or hold it high. The boat brings beach towels. Some people brought shoes to change into but most of us used Teva or Keene sandals or some type of water shoe and also hiked in the same shoes. I had gotten these shoes from REI and really liked their versatility for the water and hikes. Our guide would tell us in advance if the hiking would require more protective shoes.
The key attraction this day was birds; Red Footed Boobies that stay mostly in the trees and Nazca Boobies which also nest on the ground and Frigate Birds.
Blue Footed boobies feed closest to shore, Nazco boobies a little farther out and the Red Footed boobies feed the furthest out to sea. So each species still nests very close to each other.
Hiking the island was amazing as the birds were so close to us and ignored us completely. It was mating season and the sounds of the male birds calling to the female birds to land by them were wonderful.
The water was much clearer than yesterday and we saw many small fish and purple starfish.
We came back for lunch, kayaking off the stern of the catamaran and then went to our first deep water snorkel.
Kayaking was great. The ship has 4 double kayaks. We went out two by two and were able to see many birds nesting along cliffs of the rocky coast. Again, the crew gave great instructions to anyone unsure of kayaking and everyone enjoyed the solitude of kayaking at their own pace.
After lunch and a brief rest to transfer photo’s and write notes we loaded up into the pangas for a deep water snorkeling trip along the wall near the steps. Interesting snorkeling with some current but very murky water. Much bigger fish to see. I was to find out that each day the snorkeling offered a little more challenge. But with our guides instructions and the panga drivers assistance even the novice snorkelers did great! The panga drivers kept a good eye on everyone and would keep the boat nearby for anyone that looked like they would like to get out of the water. The pangas had a small ladder that was lowered into the water, so exiting the water was quite easy. We took ‘shorty’ wet suits but the boat also had nice shorty wet suits that could be rented for the trip. They rinsed the suits and dried them after each dive even if you brought your own suit.
Later we did a dry landing at Prince Phillips steps. A dry landing means to wear your hiking shoes and the pangas will pull up close enough to rocks, a dock or steps that you can step or hop to without getting your feet wet.
I was expecting Prince Phillips Steps to be going up a steep hill without any rails. Obviously, I had seen the wrong picture. These steps go right up the rocky cliffs near the point of the island. It is a stairwell built of rocks of various shapes, sizes and step heights with a very good railing. So, no problem for the Adventurous Chicken to navigate this one!
At the top we followed a path to see an amazing amount of Nazca Boobies with eggs and young chicks. They lay 2 eggs, most only hatch one or have 1 that lives. They leave the fuzzy, white baby to go out and feed to bring it back to the baby.
We also were lucky enough to see an endemic owl both flying and resting. Luckily, our companions shared this picture so I can post. These owls feed during the day.
We saw many more Frigate birds and began to see a pattern of Frigate birds catching a ride on the ship.