On most speedboat trips of any length, you’re likely to be surprised by a random rock protruding from the ocean. Of course, there will always be birds, and often sea lions, co-opting any accessible rock.
Cabo Rosa, called Los Tuneles by the locals, is a surreal part of the ocean just offshore of Isabela Island. When one of the volcanoes erupted and the lava flowed to the sea, the molten lava contained gases that created chambers or tunnels within the lava streams. Once it cooled, the gases escaped, sometimes through fractures or fissures in the lava, sometimes through cracks and large collapses, creating the most wonderful maze of submerged and surface rock structures scattered all along sections of the island’s coastline.
Los Tuneles is a big area for local fisherman and also tour companies, since the snorkeling and diving here is wonderfully full of all kinds of marine and avian life. First, we walked around on top of some of the rocks.
We got our first real glimpse of Tintorera sharks
a pair of courting/nesting blue footed boobies
and some penguins from a distance.
Then, we donned our snorkeling gear, jumped in, and followed our guide into the maze, sometimes dipping below the surface to go under a ‘bridge” of lava rock, sometimes sliding over lava just below the surface.
We saw sharks, sea horses, Blue-Footed Boobies, so many colorful fish, I can’t even list them all, and most amazingly, enormous sea turtles! The guide told us not to get behind them, but swim beside them if possible so as not to spook them and that’s what we did. I couldn’t believe the sheer size of them and just swam as fast as I could to keep up, trying to remember to breathe at the same time. Unfortunately, my camera quit a few minutes after entering the water (the lens jammed), so I was unable to get what would have been wonderful, up close pictures of the turtles that day.
Due to the volcanic nature of the islands, there are so many rock configurations, from tunnels to cliffs to jagged piles of rubble.
Led by our guide, we ended up in the open ocean for a bit while following a pair of sea turtles and it was suddenly exhausting because the current was so strong beyond the protection of the lava tunnels. It was exhilarating and a little bit terrifying at the same time. What a day!
Then it was a seemingly shorter speedboat ride back to our port. We were apparently lucky during our entire vacation in the Galapagos; after hearing the horror stories of people getting motion-sickness on the speedboat rides, we never once saw anyone even slightly queasy. Mainly it was just luck that the seas were fairly calm for us, even during the El Niño weather.