At islands off Peru’s Pacific coast, swim with these fascinating marine mammals!
The meeting of the cold Humboldt ocean current with the warm El Niño current off Peru’s desert coast makes these seas among the most fertile in the world. From the plankton at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean food chain to the whales at the very top of the food chain, Peru’s coastal waters are home to a seemingly infinite variety of life forms, including Humboldt penguins, dolphins, sea turtles and Peruvian boobies.
This incredible natural bounty means that travelers from all over the world can enjoy a range of marine adventures and water sports, from marine birdwatching to whale watching, surfing, diving or sailing.
Among the least well-known attractions of Peru’s Pacific waters are their vast colonies of sea lions (Otaria flavescens). Known as the South American sea lion, southern sea lion, or Patagonian sea lion, Otaria flavescens can be found all the way from Ecuadorean waters to the Falkland Islands in the South Atlantic. In Peru, enormous colonies of this magnificent species can be viewed less than four hours south of Lima at the well-known Ballestas Islands, in the Paracas National Reserve, during half-day boat tours from the fishing town of Pisco.
But it is in Lima, Peru’s sprawling capital of around ten million inhabitants and a city more famous for its fine museums and unrivaled seafood restaurants, that travelers can actually enjoy the opportunity of SWIMMING with sea lions. Swimming with sea lions at Islas Palomino, the islands off the Lima coast, is a fantastic way to get in touch with nature and learn more about the need to conserve this species and other marine fauna.
The Palomino islands are home to a large colony of sea lions with no natural predators. In the past, the only threat to their peaceful existence came from humans. But today, environmental awareness programs and the increased popularity of boat tours to these islands among both Peruvian and international travelers, have meant that the future for these delightful creatures is looking much more secure.
Boats to the islands leave daily on half-day tours from Callao, Peru’s largest sea port. Visitors can view the colonies of sea lions from the comfort of modern boats, or climb into a neoprene wetsuit and take the plunge! Swimming with playful and curious sea lions is an experience you’ll never forget!