Urbina Bay and Tagus Cove, Isabela Island

Dec 25, 2018 - National Geographic Endeavour II

Guests onboard the National Geographic Endeavour II spent Christmas day exploring the terrestrial and marine worlds of Isabela Island. We began the day with an early morning hike through the dry forest of Urbina Bay. Giant tortoises greeted us upon arrival as they were moseying along the trail. Guests learned about giant tortoise evolutionary history and ecology, as well as their importance to the Galapagos archipelago. We took some time to appreciate the soundscape of this visitor site, quietly observing the calls of Darwin’s finches and the Galapagos mockingbird. We encountered several large, male terrestrial iguanas as well. Guests cooled off after our hike by taking a dip in the ocean before returning to the ship.

After lunch, guests had the opportunity to participate in a variety of activities, including kayaking, paddle boarding, and deep water snorkeling. Kayakers encountered a beautiful scalloped hammerhead shark as they paddled along the coastline of Tagus Cove. Deep-water snorkelers saw a variety of tropical fish species, including bluechin parrotfish, endemic blennies, and a juvenile white tip shark. We also encountered several green sea turtles that were grazing upon the abundant algal growth on the rocky reefs.

We ended the day with a fast-paced hike around the rim of a tuff cone, the center of which is home to Darwin Lake. This was an opportunity for guests to get some cardiovascular exercise and take in some breathtaking landscapes. The deep green and blue colors of Darwin Lake contrasted by a white, salty rim give it a unique look. Guests had an alternative option of taking a Zodiac ride around Tagus Cove to encounter some more of the unique wildlife found in this region of the Galapagos archipelago, such as the Galapagos penguin and flightless cormorant.

Guests enjoyed a special Christmas dinner with their families and new friends, followed by a musical performance given by one of our naturalists onboard, Christian Saa.

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About the Author

Alexandra Widman


Alexandra grew up on the southeast coast of the United States. She has a deep love for the ocean that stems from her childhood spent surfing, kayaking, diving and fishing on the Intracoastal Waterway. Alexandra has lived on San Cristóbal Island for the past 6 years, having fallen in love with Galápagos the moment she arrived as a fledgling marine ecologist. She holds a bachelor’s degree in marine biology and a master’s in environmental science and management from the University of California Santa Barbara.

About the Photographer

Luis Vinueza


Luis arrived in the Galápagos Islands for the first time when he was 11 years old in 1983, and from that time on he knew that Galápagos would one day be his home. He returned to the islands in 1995 and spent 14 months camping in a tent. Seven of those months were spent on Española Island, studying the relationship of reproductive success and mate retention of Nazca boobies. In 1997, he started working for the marine lab at the Charles Darwin Research Station (CDRS) on different fields including diving surveys to assess the patterns of marine biodiversity around the Galápagos Marine Reserve. His research included counting lobsters and sea cucumbers and participating as an advisor for CDRS during the negotiation process that led to the 1998 creation of the Galápagos Marine Reserve. 

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