After walking among the giant tortoises for an hour or so, we eventually tear ourselves away to continue our journey to the east and a magnificent big bay that mustn’t be missed a little further on. A short ride through the dense bush later and we arrive at a long white sand beach sheltered by rocky outcrops at either end. We’re stunned by the beauty of this paradise on earth that you simply wouldn’t guess was here from up on the road. We’re completely alone as we walk in respectful silence along the beach with our boards and paddles, passing close to a group of twenty or so sealions, themselves enjoying the magic of the spot as much as we are. While some of them are happy to flop lazily on the sand, others make their way on their ungainly flippers towards and into the water, seemingly swimming for the pure fun of it. They seem totally unconcerned by our presence as they enjoy life in an apparently perfect harmony with their natural surroundings. An impression further enhanced by the big male we see further along, stretched out and taking in some sun on his big rock slab picnic table. And by the mother and baby lying against each other around the trunk of a big shade bush, blocking the path and barking raucously at anyone daring to try and pass by. Here, perhaps more than anywhere on the island, nature is still very much in charge, and wherever you explore or look it’s the ordinary animals with their innate fear of humankind who are clearly the rulers of this particular roost. It’s a captivating, unsettling and enriching spectacle, filling us with hushed humility. Despite all our travel we’d never felt more like simple invited guests than here on this island.
But the draw of the water was too much for Alexis and Melanie, who are soon inflating boards and readying their gear on some clear sand. Boards under their arms, the two of them make their way to the water’s edge, passing close by groups of sealions lying together on the warm sand. Enjoying every aspect of the scene and every second of the experience, the pair are soon paddling their boards across the flat water as a juvenile sealion approaches then follows them with an apparent sense of fun and curiosity. A pelican flies past just above on its way to the rocks at the southern end of the bay. Taking it all in from the vantage point of their SUPs out on the water, Alexis and Melanie slowly advance across the bay, savouring every second and aware of the immense privilege of living such a moment of intimacy with nature.