Galapagos Islands Information
The Galapagos Islands are located about 620 miles (1,000 km) west of Ecuador. They belong with their extraordinary flora and fauna to the UNESCO World Heritage. Nowhere else you can see that many different animals in the wild.
Charles Darwin, who explored this island group about 200 years ago, was stunned by this biodiversity. At the Galapagos Islands you can observe different species, like Galapagos tortoises, -penguins, -albatrosses, magnificent frigate birds and many more. The Galapagos Islands were formed around 4 million years ago as a result of volcanic eruptions, emerging from the ocean surface.
Almost all the Galapagos Islands have wonderful beaches and great opportunities for snorkeling. There is no good or bad season, the Galapagos Islands can be visited all year round. There are different ways you can explore these islands, you can go island hopping as well as with a cruise. Either way the Galapagos Islands are definitely one of Ecuador’s unforgettable highlights.
For more specific Galapagos Islands Information check out the tabs below.
Isla Santa Cruz (Indefatigable Island)
Size: 318 sq mi (986 km2)
Main Town: Puerto Ayora
Location: In the center of the archipelago
Animals: Galapagos Tortoises, Darwin’s Finches, Galapagos Mockingbirds, Pelicans
Santa Cruz is the archipelago’s most populated and second largest island. In Puerto Ayora, the island’s main port located in the south, most island excursions start. There is a large variety of restaurants, hotels, small shops as well as attractive sights and beaches which will enrich your experience on the Galapagos Islands. Furthermore you will see interesting vegetation. The landscape is lined with cacti and the unique Scalesia Forest. An important visitors’ site is the “Charles Darwin Research Station”, where you can visit an information center with an interesting museum and a tortoise breeding station. Another highlight are “Los Gemelos” (Twin Craters). They are not actual craters but were underground magma chambers that collapsed. The view there is impressive.
Isla Floreana (Charles)
Size: 67 sq mi (173 km2)
Main Town: Puerto Velasco Ibarra
Location: South of Santa Cruz
Animals: Darwin’s Finches, Great Egrets, Galapagos Tortoises, Galapagos Hawks
Floreana Island, one of the smaller islands in the south of the archipelago, offers a lot, surrounded by rolling hills, green highlands and white-sand beaches. Here are some fascinating spots for diving or snorkeling, which offer an amazing wildlife. In addition you can visit the “Post Office Bay.” Tourists leave their postcards in an old wooden barrel and take in turn another writer’s card to personally deliver it in their home country. Maybe you get lucky and your postcard will be send to your loved ones this way.
Isla Santa Fe (Barrington)
Size: 9 sq mi (24 km2)
Location: Southeast of Santa Cruz
Animals: Galapagos Hawks, Galapagos Mockingbirds, tropical fish, Pelicans
Isla Santa Fe, an uninhabited island, is perfect for a day trip. There is a beautiful bay with a small, idyllic beach. Furthermore there is a great spot for snorkeling. You can see sharks, rays, sea lions and many tropical fish. Impressive is also a walk through one of the biggest forest of opuntia, where you might see the special “Santa-Fe-Iguana”.
Isla Plaza (South Plaza)
Size: 0.05 sq mi (0.13 km2)
Location: Off Santa Cruz’ east coast
Animals: Frigate birds, Lava Gulls, Galapagos Hawks, Galapagos Mockingbirds
Islas Plaza actually consists of two smaller islands, but only the southern one (South Plaza) can be visited. The northern island is only accessible for scientific researchers. Despite its small size, South Plaza offers a lot, especially a very interesting and extraordinary landscape. There are lots of yellow-colored iguanas it is almost impossible not to see one of them. Mostly they rest in the shade of the many huge cacti or just on top of the black lava rocks.
Seymour Norte (North Seymour)
Size: 0.7 sq mi (1.9 km2)
Location: Off Santa Cruz’ north coast
Animals: Frigate birds, Blue-footed Boobies, Black Marine Iguanas
This island is mainly populated by sea lions, marine iguanas and frigate birds. A great opportunity to explore North Seymour is a short circular trail which takes about two and a half hour. The main attraction is observing the frigate birds during their mating season, a significant moment, where the males try to impress the females, looking for their mate.
Isla Isabela (Albemarle)
Size: 1,792 sq mi (4,640 km2)
Main Town: Puerto Villamil
Location: West of Santa Cruz
Animals: Ospreys, Barn Owls, Galapagos Rails, Galapagos Mockingbirds, Penguins, Flamingos, Rays, Galapagos Tortoises
Isabela is the largest of the Galapagos Islands and was once six separated volcanic islands. The majority of the island’s residents live in the small town of Puerto Villamil, located in the south. Compared to Puerto Ayora, this town is much more quiet. There is a small flamingo lagoon, and marine iguanas and lava lizards live on an endless beautiful white-sand beach with palm trees. Spectacular is a trail through mangroves and dense vegetation. Unique are the Galapagos penguins, Isabela is the only place where they can be found in the northern hemisphere. Another place worth seeing is the volcanic crater, “Sierra Negra”, which is still active and one of the biggest in the world. It is possible to climb up the volcano to 1000 meters with the horse or simply by foot. Moreover you can do different boat tours to surrounding places, for example a visit to the mangroves bay “Los Tuneles”. It is a great spot for snorkeling and to observe the variety of seabirds.
Isla Bartolomé (Bartholomew)
Size: 1,2 sq. m
Location: northwestern from Isla Santa Cruz
Animals: Galapagos Penguins, Brown Noddies, White-tipped Reef Sharks
At Isla Bartholomew you got a great panorama view of the surrounded islands and the typical “Pinnacle Rock”. You have to go about 374 stairs up until the viewpoint, but it is worth it. There you can occasionally see animals, like saurian, which quickly cross the road. A wider variety of animals will meet under water, a paradise for snorkelers. Around the Rock it is possible to swim with green turtles, manta rays, colorful fishes and even with Galapagos Penguins, which are the one and only penguins northern of the equator.
Isla Santiago (James)
Size: 585 sq. m
Location: northwestern from Isla Santa Cruz
Animals: Sally-light foot Crabs, Great Egrets, Striped Galapagos Snakes
The fourth largest Island at Galapagos mostly consists of rough lava fields. Anyhow it exist a variety of vegetation zones, from dry vegetation to wetlands. A famous visitor point is “Puerto Egas” there you have a beautiful panorama view and quite often you can discover Galapagos Hawks, which are flying quite close over the top of the volcano. At the coast are living many unique Galapagos Sea Lions. It is an excellent opportunity to swim and snorkel with these fascinating animals.
Isla Rábida (Jervis)
Size: 5 sq. m
Location: northwestern from Isla Santa Cruz
Animals: Pelicans, Greater Flamingos, Brown Noddies, Striped Galapagos Snakes
Rábida Island is one of the most volcanically varied islands in the archipelago. Especially it is famous for the red-colored beach, which is because of the high amount of iron in the lava. Marine iguanas and sea lions are often seen resting in the shade of the rocks. Surrounded salt brushes are used for nesting by brown pelicans, one of the best places to see such a nesting side.
Isla Fernandina (Narborough)
Size: 642 sq. m
Location: western from Isla Santa Cruz
Animals: Flightless Cormorants, Great Frigate birds, Galapagos Leaf-toed Geckos, Marine Iguanas
Fernandina is the westernmost island in the archipelago and also the third largest. The island is mainly formed by the giant, active volcano “La Cumbre”, whose last eruption took place in 2009. The attractive and only visitor point is “Punta Espinoza”. A colony of hundreds of marine iguanas settled here down. You can very well watch them, how they rest on the dark lava rock and take a bathe in the sun. Furthermore you can explore Galapagos Hawks, a colony of sea lions, Flightless Cormorants and sometimes Galapagos Penguins.
Isla San Cristóbal (Chatham)
Size: 558 qm
Main Town: Puerto Baquerizo Moreno
Location: eastern from Isla Santa Cruz
Animals: Blue-footed Boobies, Galapagos Storm Petrels, Sharks, Frigate birds, Galapagos Tortoises
San Cristobal is the easternmost and one of the inhabited islands of the archipelago. Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, the main town, is located at the south and reminds of an artful fishing village. The most popular point of interest is “El Junco”, a small lake which is on the inside of a dormant crater. Here you can see lots of frigate birds, which currently have a bath at the lake. Another interesting sight is the Interpretation Center, which explains the origin of the Galapagos Islands and their human history. Another impressive sight is “León Dormido” or “Kicker Rock”, a rock with in the form of an obelisk that emerges from the sea. This is a great place for snorkelers, because around the rock you will find many gaudy fishes.
Isla Española (Hood)
Size: 61 qm
Location: southeastern from Isla Santa Cruz
Animals: Albatrosses, Masked Boobies, Blue-footed Boobies, Marine Iguanas
This charming island invites especially for hikes along the white-sand beaches or for snorkeling in the turquoise water. Tropical fishes and sea urchin are just a few sea dwellers, which you can see there. Great point to watch masked – and blue-footed boobies and, especially for this place, a colony of albatrosses is “Punta Suárez”. Isla Española is one of the few places in the world, where these impressive animals breed.
Isla Genovesa (Tower)
Size: 14 sqm
Location: northeastern from Isla Santa Cruz
Animals: Red-billed Tropicbirds, Red-footed Boobies, Swallow-tailed Gull, Galapagos Storm Petrels, Sea lions, Masked Boobies
This Island got two special visitor points. On the one hand the beautiful “Darwin Bay”, with turquoise-blue water and a variety of red-footed boobies. On the other hand “El Barraco” a lovely viewpoint with an awesome panorama. There is also a small forest, where you can observe frigate birds and the nesting site of the red-footed boobies.