Galapagos wildlife cruise: the Galapagos sea lion

Posted by on September 3rd, 2013

IMG_2399When discussing my favorite animals in the Galapagos, the Galapagos Sea Lion comes a close second to the Galapagos Green Turtle. The sea lion is not an animal that I ever thought would end up being such a highlight for me in the Galapagos Islands before I went there for the first time, but this is a place full of surprises after all. Who knows, perhaps it’ll be a favorite on your Galapagos wildlife cruise too?

I was born and raised in Northern California, so sea lions were nothing new to me when I went to the Galapagos. Anyone who has been to Pier 39 in San Francisco knows what sea lions look like, sound like, and has seen some of their interesting antics. When reading about the Islands and getting ready for my first trip, I was much more interested in seeing flightless cormorants, marine iguanas and giant tortoises (along with lots of other things I hadn’t seen in the wild before) than sea lions.

The Galapagos Sea Lion is actually quite similar to the California version – in fact, they are relatives. Their appearance is almost identical. The Galapagos version is a little smaller on average, so even at first sight there is nothing that is particularly unique seeming about them. However, as you start to explore the Galapagos on your cruise, the difference immediately becomes clear…that is, you start to see the unique and interesting personality of the Galapagos sea lion that is nothing short of infectious.

If the giant tortoises are the poster boys for the Galapagos Islands, then the sea lions are the ambassadors and the welcoming committee. They love to be around people and are very, very curious. They are often too curious, in fact, and guides will sometimes IMG_2364instruct visitors to move away when the sea lions get too close: not for any safety reasons, but just to help the sea lions maintain a more natural behavior, as they would without any human presence. But the real treat is swimming with them. As you snorkel in many different areas of the Galapagos, sea lions will often join you underwater, clearly showing off their superior swimming skills, and generally just enjoying your company.

With many animals in the Galapagos, it’s their unique physical features, or endemic nature that make them so attractive to visitors, and these are ones that we hear about the most often. With the Galapagos sea lion, however, it’s all about personality. And they lay it on just thick enough to make them a favorite of mine each and every time I visit the ‘enchanted islands.’

Where can you see the Galapagos Sea Lion?

The sea lions are really all over the place, and most of our Galapagos wildlife cruises will allow plenty of opportunities to see them. That being said,  some notable areas are at Gardner Bay on Española, Punta Espinoza on Fernandina, Puerto Egas on Santiago, and Lobos Island and Pitt Point on San Cristobal.

Recommended cruises for “Sea Lion-heavy” experiences:IMG_7361

The following Galapagos cruise boats and itineraries will give you the best chance of seeing plenty of sea lions.

There are also other boats and itinerary versions that will allow you excellent possibilities for sea lion viewing, and please do not hesitate to inquire with one of our destination specialists at 800-342-1796, or email us at

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