One of my favorite places in the Galapagos Islands is Los Tuneles (or “The Tunnels”). The place is a maze of lava tunnels about an hour or so (by boat) from Puerto Villamil. We visited Los Tuneles a few times while I was there, in order to do some snorkeling for our fish identification class, conservation work, and surfing. We also went during the eruption of Cerro Azul so that we could get a better view of the lava. I had never seen anything like it. As far as you can see, there are mazes of lava tubes and caves and secluded little pools. Luckily our boat driver, Cuarto, was a pro at navigating through it. The place is just gorgeous.
During one of our trips to Los Tuneles, I experienced one of the most amazing hippy, close-to-nature things in my life. While we were snorkeling, there was a friendly lobito (sea lion) guiding us through the tunnels and playing silly games with us. He would swim right up to our faces and allow us to stare in his eyes for a second before blowing bubbles in our faces. He stayed by our side the entire time we were in the water, which was about an hour or so. He kept encouraging us to go through tunnels we probably otherwise wouldn’t have gone through, and we did. Below is a short video of the game he was playing, followed by a video of me swimming through one of the tunnels with him. I’m so glad we were able to capture these moments because they’re pretty unbelievable to me.