Morning: Breakfast service. Deep water snorkeling. Visit to Bartolome. Dry landing. Nature walk*.
*This desolate island with few plants is the most visited and most photographed island in the Galapagos. The island consists of an extinct volcano and a variety of red, orange, green, and glistening black volcanic formations. The best known of the island's features is the Tuff Cone known as Pinnacle Rock. This large black partially eroded lava formation was created when magma expelled from the volcano reached the sea. When the seawaters cooled the hot lava it caused an explosion. The exploded particles eventually fasten together forming a rock composed of thin layers. Bartolome's Pinnacle Rock has become one of the best recognized and most photographed sights in the islands. A prominent sight it was used as a target for US airmen during WWII. Lying beside the Pinnacle Rock are twin half-moon shaped beaches.
The northern beach is a popular snorkeling site where visitors have the opportunity to swim with fish, Sea Lions and Galapagos Penguins. Much larger animals can be found near the southern beach including stingrays, spotted eagle rays, white‐tipped sharks, and black‐tipped sharks. Little vegetation grows in this barren place. Mangroves border the beach and the small shrub Tiguilia grows in the volcanic sands. The seeds and tiny white flowers of the Chamaesycae provide food for the island's finch. These plants are common to arid regions and are able to survive in these harsh volcanic conditions.
Afternoon:Lunch service. Santiago Island. Wet landing at Chinese Hat. Nature walk*. Deep water snorkeling.
*Visit to Chinese Hat, a tiny island just off the southeast tip of Santiago. Its name describes the island's shape. Those visitors who travel to the island will find its special landscape worth the visit. Though centrally located it is one of the least visited sites in the area. National Park Service restrictions have limited the number of visitors to Chinese Hat. Multi‐day cruises with 14 passengers or less are the only ones permitted at this site. The landing is on a beautiful crescent‐shaped white sand beach, home to Sea Lions and Sally Lightfoot Crabs. The trail on Sombrero Chino's explores its volcanic origin, one of the most evident in the islands.
The lava rock is very fragile and tends to break off when people walk over it. The sharp outcroppings caused from these breaks make it necessary to wear good walking shoes. Patches of Pahoehoe Lava, cracked lava and lava tubes can be found on the island. While the path does not lead up the striking red rust sides of the Chinese Hat to the caldera, it does venture high enough on the island to offer some spectacular views of the waves crashing below. Snorkeling in the waters near Chinese Hat can create a stir; white‐tipped sharks frequent the area, as do the playful Galapagos Penguins and Sea Lions.
Evening: Guide briefing. Farewell cocktail. Dinner service and navigation to Santa Cruz Island.