Ecoventura’s new first-class island hopper provides plush comfort and total immersion in South America’s biodiverse archipelago
Words by KATHRYN ROMEYN
Most Californians have spotted sea lions along the coast — but those sightings don’t prepare a person for witnessing the creatures perform exuberant underwater ballets mere inches from your snorkel mask while splashing around in the South Pacific. Such is the type of up-close-and-personal encounters made possible to those seeking passage on the brand-new, 150-foot superyacht Ecoventura Theory, which sails exclusively in and around the Galápagos Islands and is capable of transporting adventurers like myself to a whole new natural world.
Setting sail from Galápagos’ San Cristóbal Island, the 10-cabin vessel affords West Coast seafaring buffs the opportunity to rest and recharge amid beautiful scenery and connect with flora and fauna in ways you simply can’t in your usual environs — with all the comforts (and then some) of a home away from home. Designed and inspired thoroughly by its surrounding environment, the craft’s interiors are akin to something I might find in a boho-inflected minimalist Southern California abode — think geode lamps, an onyx bar and all-white bedrooms. Meanwhile, sustainable efforts span from biodegradable amenities and eco-friendly lavatories onboard to an innovative curved bow that increases fuel efficiency and reduces drag. Also on deck, so to speak, are a gym, jacuzzi and spacious sundeck complete with loungers.
The Theory rotates two weeklong itineraries, with its native staff enhancing the pointed mission of facilitating guests’ exploration of the archipelago. Program talks cover subjects like geology, wildlife photography and Charles Darwin’s exploration of the region. Even the delectable Relais & Chateaux–approved cuisine reflects the surrounds and local culture. And a pair of naturalists on staff means my excursion groups are wonderfully small — with a 10-to-1 ratio of guests to guides — making off-ship experiences via pangas (inflatable boats) extra memorable.
Wildlife immersions are, of course, de rigueur, each one completely unique and splendidly surprising. On land, adventures include hikes in search of endangered Galápagos tortoises, sculptural lava fields, pink flamingos, well-camouflaged short-eared owls and red-footed boobies with vibrantly colored beaks. One might see land iguanas fighting like Greco-Roman wrestlers or, from the panga, baby hammerheads swimming alongside sea turtles, their stacked heads popping above the surface every few minutes for a breath of air.
Unforgettable encounters with penguins, white-tipped reef sharks, eagle rays and sea turtles practically guarantee guests’ cheek-to-cheek grins, and sea lions regularly intrude on stand-up paddleboarding and kayaking trips, with juveniles sometimes deciding to twirl alongside the paddlers. The beauty of these moments is in the intimacy, the quiet and the pure connection to the animals as they exist freely in their natural habitats.
It’s 5 p.m. now in the South Pacific and dozens of bottlenose dolphins are riding the Theory’s bow, playfully weaving in and out as though braiding the crystalline blue water with their agile bodies. As the sun drops in the sky beside the silhouette of an island, countless more of the creatures are flinging themselves through the air in the distance in a breathtaking display of acrobatics.
Boarding the Theory is indeed like entering a whole new world — Mother Nature’s world — and tomorrow a new discovery awaits.
$7,850/person all-inclusive (based on double occupancy); Ecoventura assists guests in creating their travel itineraries.
Feature image: Fernandina Island in the GALÁPAGOS. Photo courtesy of Ecoventura.
Sept. 5, 2019
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