Free at Sea: Hanging out with a Playful Sea Lion at Gardner Bay

Gardner Bay is situated on Española Island and is often heralded as one of Galapagos’ top islands to check out due to its overwhelming diversity of wildlife. Española also impresses visitors with its enigmatic coastline made up of dramatic cliffs and its peculiar “blowhole” geological phenomenon located at one end of the island. During the visit, guests are always treated to the otherworldly landscapes and an amazing number of the BIG15 group of iconic species in Galapagos.

The Playful Sea Lion at Gardner Bay

On this day we were over at Gardner Bay during our itineraries aboard Yacht Isabela II, enjoying the white powder beach that extends itself across the coast. Sea lions are wildly abundant here, often snoozing under the Galapagos sun or just lounging out on the beach. Harems are the norm, and consequently there’s a lot of younger Galapagos sea lions playing around along this visitor site. That’s when our little highlight of the day occurred…

Galapagos Wildlife: Sea Lions
Playful Sea Lions On The Beach

Snorkeling happens to be one of the activities that we offer here, meaning guests have a high chance of getting to swim with the numerous and playful sea lions that have made this place their home. Not only that, but the beautiful waters and their mesmerizing blues that surround the coast are what instantly draw guests into jumping into the ocean.

Live an unforgettable experience snorkeling along with the most iconic wildlife of the Galapagos Islands!

Once we got our snorkeling gear on and immersed ourselves inside the aquatic world below, it was fantastic: the water was nice (roughly 20 °C / 68 °F) and very calm, which allowed for excellent visibility. As we were swimming, however, a playful sea lion at Gardner Bay managed to sneak underwater and surprised us all when it shot up from the depths like a torpedo holding a Galapagos puffer (otherwise known as a concave puffer) in its mouth. This type of a fish is a reef species that is often encountered along rock-sand areas underwater, often burrowing under the sand at night.

Playful Sea Lion At Gardner Bay
Sea Lions Can Also Be Spotted When Practicing Underwater Activities Like Snorkeling
Galapagos Sea Lion
Sea Lion Playing Underwater At Gardner Bay

This playful sea lion at Gardner Bay was carrying it inside its mouth (already dead, it seemed) and shooting up to the surface only to let it drop back down, torpedoing towards the seafloor to catch it with its mouth before it hit the bottom. After a while of fooling around with the Galapagos puffer, the sea lion managed to pull it up on the rocky shore but a wave came in and swept it away from the amusing creature. It seemed that once this happened the sea lion simply lost interest, but it must have been toying with the inanimate Galapagos puffer for more than 15 minutes!

This is Galapagos

This is just another example of why guests are often told to expect the (beautifully) unexpected in the Galapagos! For this is where nature and wildlife roams at its freest and its most fearless despite being in the presence of humans. For many, it almost seems like these untouched creatures put on a show for guests. At the end of the day, it’s what makes gives this place its magic, for here in the Galapagos guests will always find nature in its purest form, and we are privy to that.

Updated:May 8, 2023

Published:October 25, 2017


Machu Picchu & Galapagos Islands Tour 2024 Package: 12 days / Quito, Galapagos Islands and Machu Picchu / From USD 9,598 per person



Condé Nast Traveler ONLINE

This small, secret rooftop of the restored Casa Gangotena mansion peers over Plaza San Francisco in the center of Quito’s colonial Old Town, the world’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site. Order a Cedrón Spritz, a refreshing mix of rum, lemon, sparkling wine, and fresh lemon verbena (cedrón) syrup and leaf, then revel in the mesmerizing, real-time montage of daily life in Ecuador’s capital as it parades past.

National Geographic Traveller

A Font of information, Klaus has spent decades in the field, leading tours in the Amazon, Andes and Galapagos Islands. He hung up his guiding boots a few years back and now creates itineraries for the tour operator, Metropolitan Touring. Adrift in the Pacific Ocean, hundreds of miles from mainland South America, Galapagos is one of the most biodiverse locales on Earth.

Cruise Critic

Santa Cruz II is a replacement for the much-loved Santa Cruz, which plied the waters of the Galapagos for 36 years. It is not a new ship; it was built in 2002 and sailed as Mare Australis under the Australis cruise brand, operating expedition cruises around Cape Horn and to Antarctica. Metropolitan Touring bought the ship in 2015 and completely refurbished it, launching it as Santa Cruz II in October 2015.

Telegraph Ultra Travel: 50 Greatest Hotels in the World

When this modern, minimalist, glass-walled jungle lodge opened in 2012, it changed the accommodation game in South America. Arquitect Alfredo Ribadeneira’s “protective cocoon” would impress in a modern city; in the depths of an Andean cloudforest, it is wild, audacious and beautiful. Though only 70 miles from Quito, Maspi Lodge sits in splendid isolation, perched on a cliff at the end of an unsealed road.

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Itinerario de 5 días / 4 noches: Basado en la tarifa regular (4214 USD + impuestos por persona)
Itinerario de 7 días / 6 noches: Basado en la tarifa regular (5672 USD + impuestos por persona)
No reembolsable. Aplica únicamente para residentes ecuatorianos en nuevas reservas directas realizadas, hasta el 30 de junio del 2022, con un ejecutivo de ventas del hotel. Válido para estadías hasta el 31 de agosto de 2022. No puede ser combinada con otros descuentos, promociones u ofertas. El descuento no aplica para otros servicios. El precio no incluye recargo de combustible de $20 por noche de crucero.

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