One of the day trips pretty much every tour company on Isabela offers is a half-day trip to Tintoreras, a small island nearly within swimming distance of the main pier. We booked with Pahohoe and paid $50/person (again, we probably overpaid, but it was still cheaper than booking in advance). I’m pretty sure Pahoehoe pawned us off on some other tour company, as there were only five of us on the tour and the gear was dropped off by a different company.
The trip started with a boat ride in the harbor on a small boat. The water was so clear that our naturalist was able to spot and point out baby sharks and golden rays and sting rays and spotted eagle rays. With only five of us on board, we had plenty of room to spread out and see the sea life. That said, I believe the boat holds up to 15 people – I’m pretty sure the boat ride would be miserable with that many people on board.
The boat then drove over to the island and put-putted around for a bit while we tried to spot some wildlife. Unfortunately, the only thing we saw were a couple of juvenile blue-footed boobies (meaning they still had white feet). I know I sound completely jaded, but two juvenile boobies just didn’t do it for us anymore. (Birds, people, I’m talking about birds. Jeez….)
Next up was a short walk across the island. I’ve got to say, the walk was boring. Tons of lichen-covered lava, tons of marine iguanas, and not much else except some extreme heat. At the end of the walk we got to watch some sea lions playing on a beach, but they were too far away to get decent photos.
After the walk, we got back in the boat and put-putted around until we saw some blue footed boobies.
After that, it was time for snorkeling. The snorkeling was, by far, the high point of the tour and made the whole trip worth it. We saw several turtles (some resting on the bottom and some swimming), two large sting rays, some reef sharks, some sea lions, and – wait for it – an octopus. I had never seen an octopus before, so I was pretty excited to see one. And, our naturalist didn’t make us swim long distances – there was plenty of time to just float around and watch the ocean life.
Then, we got back in the boat and went to look for penguins. We eventually spotted one and watched it for a while. Apparently, the penguins were just starting to return to the eastern side of Isabela – they go west sometime around December to follow the fish.
We then drove back to the pier, eating our single serving wrapped cookies. Come on Isabela tour companies, just cut up some fruit and put it in reusable containers. Please.
We had fun, but this is certainly a tour you can miss if you run out of time.
* In light of the Covid-19 situation, we are no longer traveling. This post reflects pre-pandemic travel. We are sheltering in place and hope you are doing the same. Stay safe.