Genovesa Island has certainly earned its nickname as the “Bird Island.” Given its somewhat remote location north of the equator, few land animals have made their way to Genovesa, creating a safe haven for many species of birds to thrive. Bird enthusiasts from around the world travel great distances to visit this island.
Darwin Bay Beach
We spent the second day of our cruise hiking and snorkeling at Genovesa Island. At this stage in my life, I had approximately zero interest in bird watching. And I have to say, even I was impressed after our visit.
We stepped off our panga and onto Darwin Bay Beach, uncertain what to expect. An overwhelming number of seabirds sat nesting on the saltbush plants that lined the coast.
I was instantly fascinated by the red-footed booby. These birds look like they are straight out of a cartoon with their bold red feet and bright blue beaks. This color contrast is striking and gives them a unique appearance, unlike any bird I’ve ever seen.
But it didn’t stop there. Unique birds that I had never seen before could be spotted in every direction we looked. And they did not seem to fear us in the least.
We saw countless Nazca boobies, swallow-tailed gulls, Darwin finches, mockingbirds, the endemic Galápagos Dove, and so many other birds. It was quite literally a bird watcher’s paradise.
Prince Philip’s Steps
During our second hike at Prince Philip’s Steps later that afternoon, we ascended a cliff about 25 meters to reach a platform that provided an excellent view for observing something you will never guess—more birds!
The uphill hike was moderately difficult, but it was entirely worth it when we reached the top. Nazca boobies nesting on the ground were scattered across the entire area.
I never thought I would say these words…but the mating rituals of these boobies were adorable. The males would pick up rocks and sticks and give them to the females as part of this ritual. It was so sweet to watch this happen over and over again.
We saw several males fail in their attempts to woo a female as well. We were so entertained watching these interactions, laughing that even birds know that you need to get a lady a proper rock.
Clearly, there had been some success on this front because we also saw many Nazca boobies nesting with eggs.
There is something undeniably powerful about seeing the cycles of life in front of your eyes—from the mating stage to the creation of new life and back around again.
We were also hoping to see the Short Eared Owl on this hike, but unfortunately, these birds are quite elusive. The most intriguing part about these owls is how they hunt. Unlike other owls, the Short Eared Owl actually hunts its prey during daylight.
If you look closely, you can find smaller birds seeking protection in little caves hidden between the rocks. These clever owls wait patiently over these rocky crevices, biding their time for the right moment to attack their tiny prey.
As soon as these smaller birds exit their home, the owls will swoop down and attack. While this would have been quite a sight to see, I’m actually relieved I didn’t watch an owl eat a cute little bird for dinner.
Sea lions, marine iguanas, and more
Genovesa Island may be known as “Bird Island,” and for good reason, but there is much more to it than just bird watching. The island is home to some of the smallest marine iguanas in the Galápagos Islands.
Even more exciting, in my opinion, sea lions and fur seals can be spotted here. We saw countless sea lion pups playing along the water’s edge. Just seeing the pictures of these adorable babies melts my heart.
As we continued to hike along the shoreline and enjoy these playful pups, we witnessed a mother sea lion nursing her pup. This was the first time I had seen this, and it felt so special to get the privilege to watch it.
We also found the time to squeeze in two snorkels the same day. We swam with countless varieties of beautiful fish.
Although nothing we saw could come close to comparing to the snorkeling experience that would come on day 3 of our cruise, it was a wonderful way to balance our visit to Genovesa Island.
Our journey to the next island started almost immediately after dinner. It seemed odd to us that we were leaving so early instead of at our scheduled departure time. It didn’t take long for us to figure out the reason for our early departure.
The water was choppy, to put it mildly. Several people on the boat got incredibly motion sick and vomited. Most of the rest of us felt bad enough that we had to immediately get into our beds and take medicine to make it through the night.
Luckily, Nick and I were both in the latter group, but it was still no fun. I guess a few tough times go along with any good adventure!
If you want to continue following our journey, read about the thrill of our first time snorkeling with a colony of sea lions at Santa Fe Island!
If you missed it, go back and read about the first day of our 15-day cruise around the Galápagos Islands.
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