Overview Of The Galapagos Islands

Every Major Island Has Something Unique To Offer

island map

Bahia Darwin, Genovesa

Often called “bird island” as there are huge colonies of sea birds and one of the few places you can see two species of birds nesting, red footed and Nazca boobies. Walking around the sandy landing site at Darwin Bay you will enjoy a bird watchers paradise. Standing right next to the birds they are totally calm with your presence. Sally Lightfoot Crabs scamper around a delightful morning.

Also on Genovesa are the “Phillips Steps” named after the Duke of Edinburgh who visited in 1965. After walking the steps to reach the cliffs you are rewarded with great sightings. The Great Frigate birds with their puffed out red sacs, and Nazca boobies nesting on the ground.

Bartolomé Island

Some of the most spectacular landscapes in the islands come into view. Just off the coast of Santiago, Bartolomé boasts some of the most magnificent landscapes in the islands including the famous Pinnacle Rock, a towering obelisk at the edge of the ocean. After a hike to the summit that is not difficult and is done at easy pace, visitors will have an impressive view of the surrounding islands, including the eroded tuff cone of Pinnacle Rock. There is a lagoon right off the beach where often you can see one or two Flamingo’s. These are very pink and a nice site to see. Sea Lions are also on the beach and fun to watch. Finish your day snorkeling off the beach and hopefully encounter a Galapagos Penguin.

Bartolome Island Espaniola Island Land Iguana-Santa Cruz-Dragon Hill

Espanolais

An idyllic beach is waiting for you with the finest white sand against a bright blue ocean. During our visit sea lions lined the edge of the water nursing their young. A stunning Brown Pelican was walking in the shallow. Marine iguanas were on the rocks and another Galapagos Hawk was on a signpost. We walked the length of the beach enjoying the beautiful surroundings. At the western point of the island sheer cliffs provide thermals for the seabirds and the waved Galapagos Albatross maybe seen from April to December.

Fernandina

Is the best for seeing marine iguanas, crabs, Flightless Cormorants nesting sites, the Galapagos Penguins, Galapagos Hawks, and sea lions.

Floreana

Is very isolated and full of a rich history with many stories of the people who first settled here. Two men who lived as nudists, a family seeking isolation and a Baroness with three lovers who wanted to make this a resort island. No one really knows what happened to all these people. On the island there are strange rock carvings of heads reminiscent of those on Easter Island. A mystery island full of stories about the human species instead of the bird and animal species.

Punte Vicente Roca, Isabela Island

(Point Vicente Roca) a wonderful place for a zodiac ride hugging the cliffs to see nesting birds and sea lions. Marine iguanas are sunning on the black lava rocks. Here you may see blue footed and Nazca Boobies.

blue footed booby

Santa Cruz

Is the home of the Charles Darwin Research Station, and was the abode of the famous Lonesome George. In 2016 the center is undergoing a refurbishment and should emerge better than ever. Another option is the Tortoise refuge center at the top of the island. About a 45 minute drive but worth it. Here the Dome Tortoises are living in the wild. You can go off the path to view them and it great to wander around and see these magnificent animals. They were on the road as we travelled to the refuge center. The town is quite nice with some restaurants on the waterfront if you wish to spend some time back in civilization or do a little retail therapy

Santa Cruz (Dragon Hill)

Also home to the Land Iguana and a walk up "Dragon Hill" you will see large and more colorful iguanas.

Flightless Cormorant Passing Marine Iguana Galapagos Penguins

Rabida Island/Jervis

Unique dark red colored beach of volcanic origin, frequented by sea lions, and a flamingo pond. The walk up this island is very rewarding. Only a little steep in certain parts the green trees and spectacular views of the sea are worth the effort. While we were there we saw the Galapagos Hawk, the top Galapagos predator within about 10 feet of our cameras. A great outing for sure. After the walk you can snorkel from the beach and enjoy really excellent sea life. Kayaking around Darwin Bay was also an option

Santiago Island

Santiago Island is also known as San Salvador, after the first island discovered by Columbus in the Caribbean Sea or as James Island. The island, which consists of two overlapping volcanoes. The oldest lava flows on the island date back to 750,000 years ago. Sullivan Bay is especially fascinating for those who are interested in geology and volcanology. You can walk over the uneroded, black lava flow covered with lava bubbles and tree-trunk molds in the surface. There are two small beaches where turtles come for nesting.

North Seymour Island

This site is also known of being a major nesting colony of Blue Footed Boobies, and the largest colony of the Magnificent Frigate Bird. At any time of year these Frigate Birds may display their bright red pouch to attract females. The Blue Footed Boobies may perform their courtship dance called “sky pointing”. Marine and land iguanas are around the beach and Brown Pelicans are always fun to watch.

The more knowledge you bring to a travel destination, the more knowledge you will take from it. Be on the lookout for newspaper and magazine articles - and for TV documentaries on the Galapagos Islands. A good narrative book for your Galapagos adventure is The Voyage of the Beagle by Charles Darwin. Though first published in 1839, it's still a delight to peruse. This volume will make Charles Darwin's explorations come to life as you visit the islands.

Other Resources

GALAPAGOS / PERU