There is no better way to spend the holidays than exploring the Galapagos Islands aboard National Geographic Endeavour II. Today was our first full day on the enchanted islands, and exploring the magnificent Española Island was the week’s first present.

During the morning, we visited Gardner Bay. Turquoise waters full of sea lions surrounded the beach. There is no better place to start exploring the underwater world. We had a fantastic experience spotting marine life. We saw plenty of species of tropical fish as well as some turtles and sharks, but the baby sea lions really stole our attention. They were so playful and curious, and they surprised everyone with their willingness to come close.

In the afternoon, we repositioned the ship to explore Punta Suarez, another area of Española that hosts a high percentage of endemic species. We walked a rocky trail to arrive at cliffs, the breeding site for many colonies of seabirds. Here Nazca boobies were in the middle of their breeding season. We spotted eggs and some little booby chicks that hatched only hours before. Waved albatrosses, the largest birds found on the Galapagos, are one of the island’s main attractions. We were lucky to see some of the last individuals of the year before they migrate south and then return for another reproductive cycle. Sea lions with their pups and colorful marine iguanas were also stars of the show.

Guests enjoyed listening to the global explorer talk before practicing their photography skills. Everyone smiled for the camera after swimming with sea lions! Exploring the Galapagos Islands aboard National Geographic Endeavour II is indeed the best present our young explorers can receive, and today was just the beginning of our exciting expedition in Galapagos.