If you can’t visit the real thing, head to the Poor Man’s Galapagos if only for the Blue Footed Boobiy – find out what to expect on an Isla de la Plata tour from Montanita.

Off the coast of Ecuador lies the Galapagos Islands & Isla de la Plata.

This Poor Man’s Galapagos can be reached on a day tour from the backpacker surf mecca of Montanita, or directly from the fishing village of Puerto Lopez, 45km away.

Puerto Lopez

Isla de la Plata is reached from Puerto Lopez but you can also take tours from Montanita

We here at DIY Travel HQ stayed in Montanita, where the price of an Isla de la Plata tour was around $35.00-40.00.

Independent travel without a tour isn’t possible, you must have a guide on the island.

A 90min speedboat whisks you to the island where dozens of hermit crabs await upon disembarkation.

Hermit crab: Isla de la Plata tour

You’ll be greeted by hermit crabs as soon as you set foot on Isla de la Plata

Isla de la Plata is part of Parque Nacional Machalilla, home to a large diversity of species including the South American sea lion, dolphins and, particularly, sea birds – Corcovado National Park in Costa Rica is another park that has a huge variety of wildlife.

Humpback whale watching is popular on Parque Nacional Machalilla from June to October, though the year round attraction is the whimsical Blue Footed Booby.

Blue Footed Booby

The Blue Footed Booby is the highlight of an Isla de la Plata tour

Blue Footed Boobies are easily recognizable by their distinctive blue feet, a trait of sexual selection as the level of brightness is linked to the health of the booby.

The blue of the booby’s webbed feet comes from pigments obtained from its diet of fresh fish.

Also, as part of an elaborate mating ritual, males lift their feet up and down while strutting before a female – with some luck, you should be able to see this on an Isla de la Plata tour.

Blue Footed Booby on Isla de la Plata tour

The Blue Footed Booby is as cute as cute can get!

There are various hiking trails around the island, though the route for the day is dependent on the guide, companions, weather & animals/birds in season.

We took a very easy walk, encountering many Blue Footed Boobies:

  • Young & old
  • Dead & alive
  • Injured & in embryo.

No one likes dead boobies:

Dead blue footed boobies

Unfortunately we saw some dead Blue Footed Boobies on the Isla de la Plata too

Blue Footed Boobies usually lay between 1-3 eggs at a time:

Blue footed booby eggs

We saw Blue Footed Booby eggs on the Isla de la Plata too

The rugged coastline offers good scuba diving & snorkeling, which you may find in an Isla de la Plata tour in the summer:

Isla de la Plata tour

The coastline of Isla de la Plata

This Blue Footed Booby was entangled in a piece of wire, removed by the guide:

Though half of all breeding boobies nest on the Galapagos Islands, there are plenty of boobies on Isla de la Plata.

Male boobies are about 80cm tall, female boobies are bigger (obviously) at around 90cm in height.

Frigate birds are also common, but we didn’t see any unfortunately.

I never went to the Galapagos, but the Poor Man’s Galapagos lived up to its name. The Blue Footed Booby is so god damn cute but apart from that, an Isla de la Plata tour doesn’t have much else to offer.

It was a relatively expensive day for Ecuador but I guess the moral of the story is, boobies are always worth paying for…

Blue footed boobies Ecuador

Perfect Blue Footed Booby family

 

*** The Final Word: If you can’t make it to the Galapagos, it’s worth heading out to Isla de la Plata, if only to see the Blue Footed Booby ***

What’s the cutest animal you’ve ever seen in the wild?!

Impossible or illegal DIY travel

Visited in November 2013