We had a really early wake up call this morning (6am) and by 6.15 we were on the pangas heading over to Santa Fe Island (Barrington Bay). We had a quick walk around to see the Land Iguanas that are indigenous to this island but we only saw one. It also has large cacti! After breakfast we snorkelled off the pangas and had lots of fun with some very playful sea-lions. This also resulted in one of Stephanie's highlights she says when a sea-lion swam straight at my head and gave me such a fright that I got cramp in my leg from trying to swim away too quickly. I hadn't realised that anyone had seen it but when I turned round I could see Stephanie almost doubled over with laughter, if it's possible to do that in water. You probably had to be there but it made us laugh for ages afterwards. Several people actually got nipped by them, including Shirley in the bum so maybe I had a lucky escape! In the middle of the bay there was a coral garden and we were lucky enough to see three large sea turtles swimming around quite calmly and not in the least disturbed that we were there. I couldn't believe we were so close to them - definitely one of the highlights. I also managed to retrieve Ben's snorkel from the lagoon bed which he'd lost when he jumped in. I was quite chuffed with that as I'd only learned to dive down whilst snorkelling in Tahiti. I'd never been brave enough to take a breathe and trust myself to be able to last until getting back to the surface. I always thought I'd end up with a mouthful of salt water before I could clear the snorkel! Back on the boat we also saw several more of the Spotted Eagle Rays swim past -they are such beautiful creatures. Whenever we saw Stingrays we could only ever think of Steve Irwin's unfortunate end.
Due to our early start we had a whole morning of sunbathing on the deck (8.15 until lunch at 12) whilst we sailed up to Mosquera Island. According to el capitan, we wre just like basking sea-lions. After lunch we took the pangas over to Mosquera which is really just a tiny spit of admittedly beautiful white sand, between Baltra Island and Seymour. This was the only slightly disappointing part of the trip as our original itinerary had us going to Seymour and that would have been more interesting. However, the National Park is placing restrictions on the number of vistors to the Island. After more photos of the adorable sea-lions we went snorkelling around the island (bit cold this time though) and saw a huge bed of sea-urchins but not much else due to the water being a bit murky.
We sailed back to Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz Island and at our final briefing meeting we had a farewell cocktail and said our thank-yous and good-byes to the crew. The Captain made a very nice speech saying how much they had enjoyed having us on board and how we were one of the nicest groups they'd had in the past few months. He looked very smart in his white shirt, black trousers and shiny patent leather shoes. They really did a great job looking after us though. The cabins were cleaned every day and the crew were always on hand after the snorkel trips with drinks/hot chocolate and snacks. In the afternoons when we had finished our activities for the day, Carlos the barman would hand around nuts/plantain chips/crips whilst we tucked into happy hour drinks. As for the meals, it was incredible how the cooks managed to produce such good food every day in such a small galley. We always had fresh fruit and veg and a variety of soups, meat, fish dishes and desserts. They didn't cater quite so well for veggie Marie who usually had to make do with the salad and veg accompaniments but I don't think she minded too much. Our last dinner was a real feast with lobster followed by a huge iced chocolate sponge which was absolutely delicious. After dinner we all went into Puerto Ayora for one last night 'on the town'. For most of us this involved more t-shirt shopping and a drink in the Limon Cafe however the party animals Marie and Fiona stayed up well into the night mixing cocktails back on the boat with their contraband rum and vodka. Although I think Charlie was probably out the latest, dancing the night away until 3am with Luis, one of the panga drivers, in a club somewhere!