The Poor Man’s Galapagos

It is easy to understand why Ecuador is famed for the Galapagos Islands. Roughly 900 km off the coastline, the islands diverse wildlife and subtropical climate helped foster the idea of natural selection and Darwin’s theory of evolution, not to mention a serious boom in ecotourism for the country. But for those travelers anxious to see the wonders of the Galapagos and would rather avoid the huge crowds and expense, look no further than Isla de la Plata or the Poor Man’s Galapagos.

On the 37km boat ride to Isla de la Plata

We arrive at Isla de la Plata and head out for a hike to see the wildlife

Thirty –seven kilometers off the coast of Puerto Lopez, Isla de la Plata earned the reputation of the Poor Man’s Galapagos because it is one relatively pain-less boat ride away. Yet the islands are a great alternative to the Galapagos Islands because of the varied populations of marine birds. Blue-footed boobies, frigatebirds, red-billed tropicbirds and the mammoth waved albatrosses call this island home along with several small colonies of sea lions. In fact it is the only place in Ecuador where bird-lovers can find the blue-footed and red-footed boobies living together. Incredible!

The famous blue footed boobie

Things were windy and wild during our Isla de la Plata hike

A trip to Isla de la Plata won’t be complete without a snorkel around the islands reef where colorful fish, manta rays and giant sea turtles can be spotted. But the highlight of the entire trip is certainly the boat ride back to mainland. Pods of humpback whales can be spotted just off the islands shoreline. The warm Ecuadorian waters are where the mama whales come to have their calves before migrating back up north. Watching the whales jump and splash into the crystal blue ocean is certainly a cherry on top of a perfect day at Isla de la Plata.

The gang snorkeling. We saw so many tropical fish and a green sea turtle!

We hung out with one humpback whale who was eager to breech about 30 times for us. Amazing!

We saw five green sea turtles next to our boat while anchored off of Isla de la Plata

This special day was also the 28th wedding anniversary for Jill and Leo.

Humpbacks, sea turtles, and boobies were just too much excitement for these three tuckered kids