I was more than a little skeptical when told that a half-day boat tour to the Ballestas Islands off the coast of Paracas, Peru would cost about US$10. Everyone that I was travelling with decided to go so I reluctantly joined in. What are we going to see for 10 bucks, I moaned. As it turned out the islands are home to 1500 species of marine birds and a large number of sea lions. I’m not sure how ethical it is, but the boat took us within a few feet of the sea lions and they didn’t seem to mind as we snapped photos. I can see why the Ballestas Islands are often called “The Poor Man’s Galapagos.” It was a magical day.