Discover Galapagos - A travel guide to Galapagos cruises, tours, boats and yacht charters

Galapagos Islands tours - fun for the whole family!



A travel guide to Galapagos tours, boats, cruises & yacht charters

Galapagos Islands Guided Tour

Punta Suarez, Hood Island

Punta Suarez, Hood Island, Galapagos
Map of Punta Suarez, Hood Island, Galapagos "Yesterday I walked ashore onto Hood island and the first step off the panga onto land and into the middle of a sea lion colony felt like I'd regressed so many thousands of years into primeval existence... Mockingbirds and Ground Finches fluttered between my feet, Marine Iguanas basked lazily on the rocks in the sun unbothered by my presence. The doves used to flock by the score onto the shoulder and headgear of the buccaneers who killed them by the thousands. I can't help think that the animals are disturbed by the presence of man; tourist trails running through the middle of sea lion colonies where cows bask in the sun unmoved by my path which takes me within a foot of these animals who only open an eye at my passing occasionally. Little they know of man. But it is this environment that has taught them this, and this environment that has taught man to respect it." - My journal, September, 1979.

Whenever I go to Hood I still remember that first step onto the island (my first in Galapagos) and the incredible impression it made on me. For me, it is still a very special place.

The panga ride to shore is one of our most exciting as our pangero seems to surf the waves pounding toward shore. We angle off our wave and turn in towards a slightly protected cove. 

We disembark into a sea lion nursery where the young sea lions come out to greet us. You feel their whiskers tickle you as they sniff your knee to see who you are. They look happy and seem to be very playful. Sea lions do like to play. I have no other word for it and I will argue it with other biologists.

SEA LIONS LOVE TO PLAY. So there!

Sea Lion pups at Punta Suarez, Hood Island, Galapagos
Jeff Waugh
Sea Lion pups in the nursery 
at Punta Suarez

Take a closer look!
Jeff Waugh
Hood Island Marine Iguana
On shore the Marine Iguanas are still basking in the sun. The iguanas on Hood Island turn a brilliant tourquoise and red during the breeding season and we are here at the right time. These colours really are amazing. Behind the Marine iguanas are some Blue-footed Boobies whose feet match the iguanas.
 
Hood Island Mockingbird,, Galapagos
Jeff Waugh
Hood Island Mockingbird

A Hood Island Mockingbird sweeps up onto your hat and surprises us all before he flits a short distance away! This is one of the four species of mockingbird in Galapagos. The Galapagos Mockingbird inhabits most of the main and northerly islands, while there are distinct species on Hood, San Cristobal and two smaller islands off Floreana.

Galapagos Dove, Hood Island, Galapagos
Galapagos Dove Jeff Waugh

The Galapagos Dove is unique to Galapagos in a couple of ways: It is endemic to Galapagos and is thought to have its closest ancestors in Malaysia. It has an outstanding blue eye ring and a reddish-magenta iridescence on it's breast. These birds are often seen meandering through the underbrush searching for seeds.

 

We stay near where we landed for awhile to absorb the incredible abundance of life.

Soon we are composed enough to move a little ways along the trail into the Blue-foot colony. A pair of boobies are dancing, honking and whistling their courtship dance. They both move their feet to the booby rhythm and, as the female honks, the male spreads his wings, raises his head in a skypoint and whistles. I love this dance and have practiced it many times on the dance floor back home. It is a little more subtle than that of the frigates.

There are three species of booby in the Galapagos: the Blue-footed Booby, Red-footed Booby and Masked (or Nazca) Booby (with green feet).

On Hood, you will find both the Nazca and Blue-footed Booby. The Nazca Booby is generally found nesting closer to shore and the Blue-footed Booby more inland. Both make very rudimentary "nests" on the ground. The Red-footed Booby nests in trees and is the only booby to do so.

The Blue-footed Booby will lay from 2-3 eggs and raise that many young while the Nazca Booby will lay two eggs. The first to hatch will force the other egg out of the nest, so that the birds will only raise one young.

Moving through the booby colony on Hood Island is an amazing experience. Many of the birds are nesting on or very close to the trail. It is very important to move carefully so as not to disturb the birds. Boobies also have very sharp beaks and are not afraid to use them to protect their young!

Sky-pointing Blue-footed Booby, Hood Island, Galapagos
Jeff Waugh
Sky pointing boobies

Blue-footed Boobies, Hood Island, Galapagos
Jeff Waugh
Blue-footed boobies

Blue-footed Booby's feet, Hood Island, Galapagos
Jeff Waugh
Blue-footed Booby's feet

On the rocks within the colony are many Lava Lizards (Tropidurus). If you are careful you may get very close to them. I have been able to take many close-ups with my 100 mm macro lens. I have loved lizards for as long as I can remember. It is the female here that has the red colour under her chin. The males are more speckled and bigger.

Female Lava Lizard, Hood Island, Galapagos
Jeff Waugh
Female Lava Lizard

Waved Albatros, Hood Island, Galapagos
Jeff Waugh
Waved Albatross
Along the trail a little further we come across a huge bird - the Waved Abatross.

The albatross nests here beginning in March when it returns from the coastal mainland of Ecuador. They leave the Galapagos en masse in December, probably because the sea temperature warms and the food goes elsewhere. They follow their food and their food is usually in cold water like the Humbolt Current which is pushed into Galapagos by the southeast trades.

Waved Albatros from Punta Suarez, Hood Island, Galapagos
Jeff Waugh Waved Albatross from the southeast coast of Hood Island

The albatross is so large that it needs the powerful southeast trades that sweep up the cliffs of Hood to get them airborne. Sometimes when there is no wind they settle down at sea off the coast in huge rafts waiting for the wind to pick-up enough to get them off the water and into the air.

 

Masked (Nazca) Boobies, Hood Island, Galapagos
Jeff Waugh
Along the cliff is a colony of Masked Boobies. We see a male offer the female a stick as a courtship offering. Near the cliff there are a tremendous number of Marine Iguanas. We venture down at one spot and spend a long while looking and photographing these unique creatures.

Nearby is the blowhole - a lava tube that the crashing southeast waves flow through, then up and out in a blast of water like a geyser. The Marine Iguanas seem to enjoy the spray, as do the sea lions, and most of us. It's starting to get hot so we make our way along the loop trail to our landing beach where we have time to swim with the sea lions and cool off before our panga takes us back to the boat. Immediately we are on our way... To Gardner Bay

Galapagos Hawk, Hood Island
Jeff Waugh Galapagos Hawk, Hood Island

 
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GALAPAGOS GUIDED TOUR

The Galapagos Archipelago
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Santa Cruz - Caleta Tortuga Negra
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