We threw our bags in the under-seat compartments, pushed the boat out onto the water and jumped in. There were eight of us in total: three friends from New York, a couple from Comox, Charlie and I, and our captain William, and we were on Captain Pablo’s boat adventure headed to the southern Islas Marietas.
Getting to the Islands
We hadn’t gotten far out of the bay when we had our first sighting: dolphins! And not like those fake dolphins swimming in pools and jumping through hoops either, but real live ones, swooshing past our boat all slick and silver and almost invisible. We bobbed around until they were out of sight, and then continued on to Las Islas Martietas.
The Islas weren’t islands so much as dark rocky cliffs covered in bird crap. They had a large population of boobies on them which were a sight in and of themselves but it wasn’t until we rounded the bend to the snorkel spot that we understood the islands’ appeal. A ‘tunnel’ overhang opened up into a small turquoise uncovered beach about a hundred meters away.
Snorkel, Swim and Fish
Everyone except for William donned the provided snorkel masks and fins and took a dip around the boat to take in the tropical fish beneath. Charlie and I took the time to swim to the shore inside the island and sit on the beach. This, this we could get into.
As we sailed away from the group of islands, William took out a few fishing rods and set one up for himself and for a couple of the men that wanted to have a try. We drifted like this for a while, further and further from the Islas, directing the boat towards the pelicans and other birds bomb diving the fish schools, when someone yelled, “Whale!”
We threw the fishing rods aside. Two humpback whales were swimming side-by-side further out towards the open ocean. They were doing half turn flips out of the water, teasing us, slapping their fins at each other. We ‘oooh’ed. We ‘aaah’ed. We laughed at our own giddiness. We waited at the edge of our benches until someone else yelled, “There!” and then we’d all scoot to the other side of the boat and stare.
We kept our distance but inched closer. About a hundred meters in front of us, one after the other the humpbacks almost fully breached out and crashed onto the water. Again. And again. And again. We all stared wide eyed, breath caught mid-throat, until one emerged, and flew…
We just saw a whale fully horizontally and out of the water. Shock.
When they were no more, William turned the boat around, and we started drifting in the general direction of home, concentrating on nothing more than lazily setting up the fishing rods again, and spotting a few jumping sting rays.
A Wave Back to Shore
When we neared the bend of the main bay, William positioned the boat to ride a wave in, telling us to hold on. It came under us, and off we went, furling towards the shore. When we got close enough, we jumped out, pulled the boat onto the shore and grabbed our bags from the under-seat compartments.
We were all rosy cheeks, suntans and giant smiles. That was pretty much amazing. And worth it. And amazing again. We all said our thanks and our goodbyes to William and Captain Pablo who came out to greet us. One of the New Yorkers said “Gracias,” and was very pleased with their Spanish. Yes, we could all go home happy.