. The island is home to a heap of lava lizards and birds but again the marine life won over the lizards. We saw 3 penguins on our panga ride to the island and when we landed we were greeted by a group of 6 penguins swimming next to the island. More playful sea lions came out from hiding and were jumping in and out of the water with a bunch of blue footed boobies dive bombing the water for fish. If I haven't said it enough, Galapagos is paradise. We came back to the boat to get changed and then it was a morning of snorkelling. Pretty much every snorkel we do has something unique and special and this was no different. The largest concentration of starfish I have ever seen; literally hundreds and hundreds of the biggest and brightest ones I have ever seen. To top the morning off, another 3 sharks were chilling out under a cave in the water so I played with them for a while. More schools of fish and a sea lion later it was time to return to the boat for lunch. We landed on Santiago island and went for a lava walk along the coast. The lava here was completely different to any of the lava we have seen before which was pretty cool. As soon as we got round the corner we saw two penguins perched on a rock just chilling out. They must have got too hot because they both decided to go for a swim. This moment produced probably my favourite photo of the trip with the penguin plunging into the ocean. Walking along the lava was like a lunar landscape like I've never seen before. It was so barren and void of any vegetation but in that sense had character with the volcanoes in the background adding to the scenery
. We got to the beach and had the most stunning view of the beach and Bartolome island with out cruise boat in the foreground. We got into snorkel and within seconds found 2 dead baby turtles no older than a few weeks. Being right near a turtle nesting site my hopes were high to see the babies hatching and crawling to the ocean but our limited time on the beach meant this was unlikely. The snorkel was great; we saw turtles, loads of fish, and a stingray burrowing itself in the sand looking for food, with opportunistic fish stealing the scraps that weren't eaten by the ray. The standout event of this snorkel was swimming within 30cm of a marine iguana. I followed it for about 3 minutes in the water before it jumped out on to the rocks. We got back to the boat and began our navigation to south plaza. On the way we saw what looked like dolphins jumping out of the water in the distance. I got my camera out to see if we could see what they were and on closer inspection they looked like big fish jumping to avoid being eaten by sharks. One jumped right next to the boat and I took my second favourite photo of the trip. It was a huge manta ray jumping out of the water. This show continued for the whole journey, about 3 hours, with manta ray after manta ray leaping about 2 metres out of the water. We grabbed some beers, watched the rays and then enjoyed the sunset from the deck. Such an amazing thing to watch. When we arrived to the docking spot for the night, the captain must have been on smoko because we were literally 50 metres from t-boning another boat. Every person on the other boat got on the deck and started yelling and screaming at our captain which made us all a bit uneasy about our next 5 days with this bloke behind the wheel. We had our briefing on tomorrow's activities then had dinner. Following this we watched part 1 of a 3 part documentary on the Galapagos which was cool to see as I'd already been to most of the places they were highlighting. Easy night sleep tonight with another small location change.
Another rough overnight navigation took us to Bartolome island which is just to the east of Santiago. First activity today was a hike up the 365 steps to the tallest point on Bartolome. This is the most beautiful, most photographed view in the whole of Galapagos and it really wasn't hard to see why. It was probably the most stunning scenery I've seen since being away, perhaps with the exception of quilotoa lake. The view was towards the volcanoes of Santiago island with a narrow channel with white sand beaches on both sides. The crystal clear, blue, green, turquoise water adds to the attraction, and we were lucky enough to have a beautifully clear day to enjoy the view. The 365 steps to the top represent everyday of the year and our guide told us to count the steps so we could stand on the step corresponding to our birthdays. Pfft I'm born in October so I am not counting 200+ steps for a photo. Lucky for me the 1st and 30th of October were marked in the corner of a few steps so I counted them to the 17th and had my photo taken