The Galapagos Islands National Park is located approximately 620 miles (1000 km) off the coast of Ecuador, and is part of the Republic of Ecuador. Covering almost 3100 square miles (5000 km) the GI National Park controls the preservation of the area with the Charles Darwin Research Station, which is a training center for naturalist guides who accompany visitors to see over 40 approved sites, including the giant Galápagos Tortoises, which can live up to 200 years. In order to continue the preservation and maintenance of the islands, the park charges $100 for each tourist visiting the park in order to protect Ecuador’s natural heritage.
Ongoing seismic and volcanic activity forms the islands, and together with their isolation in the Pacific Ocean, led to the development of the unique and unusual animal and marine life. Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution followed his visit to the islands in 1835. As a tourist you will be amazed at how up-close and personal you can get to the wildlife, as they are undisturbed by humans or predators.
Baltra (also known as South Seymour Island) is one of two airports servicing the islands from the mainland of Ecuador. The other is on San Cristóbal Island.
BARTOLÓME (Bartholomew) Island
A volcanic islet off the east coast of Santiago Island. Great views and the most scenic photos taken are of Pinnacle Rock. A gradual staircase takes you to the overlook, worth every step.
Wildlife: Penguins and reef sharks
CHINESE HAT (Sombrero Chino) Island
Tiny island with a trail for excellent viewing. Crescent-shaped white sandy beach perfect for swimming and snorkeling with white-tipped reef sharks and tropical fish.
Wildlife: Marine iguanas, lava lizards, Sally Lightfoot crabs.
ESPAÑOLA (Hood) Island
Punta Suárez – Gardner Bay
The oldest island around 3.5 million years is located in the southern most group of islands. Due to its remote region it is home to a large number of endemic species,
Wildlife: Galápagos sea lions, lava lizards, mockingbird and tortoise. Española’s marine iguanas have a distinctive red coloration between breeding season. It is also the only place where the waved albatross nests, Galapagos Doves, and the largest nesting colony of blue-footed boobies.
FERNANDINA (Narborough) Island
The western most island with continuous volcanic eruption.
Wildlife: Colonies of marine iguanas, sea lions, Galápagos snakes, flightless cormorants and penguins and the only sea-going lizard and pools of marine life.
FLOREANA (Charles or Santa María) Island
Post Office Bay – Punta Cormorant – Champion Islet
Located in the southern part of the Galápagos
Wildlife: Lagoon birds, flamingos, sea turtles, rays and Galápagos flycatchers, and the Floreana mockingbird.
GENOVESA (Tower) Island
Darwin Bay – Prince Phillip’s Steps
Tower Island is a spectacular site, and is also known as Bird Island due to the large number of colonies here.
Darwin Bay is a coral beach with tide pools. You enter a forest of mangroves where colonies of red-throated Frigates nest. The males inflate their pouches to attract females that fly overhead.
Wildlife: Nazca boobies, red-footed boobies, noddy terns, shearwaters, tropicbirds, storm petrels, short-eared owl and great frigate birds, and Galápagos sea lions and fur seals.
ISABELA (Albermarie) Island
Punta Vicenta Roca – Urbina Bay – Tagus Cove.
Highest point in the Galápagos is found at Wolf Volcano (5,600 ft. (1,707 m), which erupted in May 2015.
Wildlife: Penguins, cormorants, sea turtles, marine iguanas and giant tortoises.
NORTH SEYMOUR Island
Small island near Baltra with cliffs where swallow-tailed gulls and tropicbirds sit perched on ledges. A tiny forest of silver-grey Palo Santo trees stand above the landing, usually without leaves waiting for rain.
Wildlife: Nesting colony of frigate birds, swallow-tailed gulls, pelicans, blue-footed and masked boobies and breeding colonies of Galápagos sea lions, land and marine iguanas.
RABIDA (Jervis) Island
Red Beach named for the high amount of iron contained in the lava, which gives it the distinct red color. Saltwater lagoon attracts many species.
Wildlife: Colony of sea lions, white-cheeked pintail ducks, flamingos and boobies build their nests. 9 species of finches have been reported on this island.
SAN CRISTOBAL (Chatham) Island
La Galapaguera – Cerro Brujo – Punta Pitt – Tijeretas (Frigate Hill) – Interpretation Center
A large island and the second airport that connects to the mainland.
Wildlife: Frigate birds, sea lions, giant tortoises, blue and red-footed boobies, marine iguanas, dolphins and swallow-tailed gulls, San Cristóbal mockingbird, lava lizard and the only fresh water lagoon in the Galápagos.
SANTA CRUZ (Indefatigable) Island
Puerto Ayora – Charles Darwin Research Station – Highlands and giant tortoise reserve – Los Gemelos (Pit Craters) – Cerro Dragón (Dragon Hill) – Bahía Ballena (Whale Bay) – Las Bachas Beach
The second largest island with seven vegetation zones and the largest human population mainly in Puerta Ayora.
Wildlife: Giant tortoises in the wild, Darwin’s finches, Galápagos mockingbirds, flycatchers, herons, ducks and egrets.
SANTA FE (Barrington) Island
Barrington Bay (wet landing)
Large Opuntia Cacti forest and home to two unique species – the Barrington/Santa Fé Land Iguana and the Santa Fé Rice Rat.
Wildlife: Galápagos Hawk, and a variety of Darwin’s finches and the Galápagos Mockingbird.
SANTIAGO (San Salvador/James) Island
James Bay – Puerto Egas – Buccaneer Cove – Sullivan Bay
Puerto Egas (Port Egas) on the James Bay with lava pools and caves that line the black lava beaches teaming with wildlife. Sugarloaf the island’s volcano rises 1,000 feet from the coastline. Buccaneer Cove where 17-19th century pirates hid their loot.
Wildlife: Marine iguanas, Sally Lightfoot crabs, herons, fur seals, turtles, flamingos, lava lizards, Galápagos Doves, Darwin’s Finches, dolphins, tropical fish, sharks, moray eels and octopuses.
SOUTH PLAZA (Plaza Sur) Island
Small island off the coast of Santa Cruz which forms two islands known as Islas Plazas.
Wildlife: Galápagos land iguanas, tropicbirds, swallow-tailed gulls and sea lions
Almost all of the island visits will include hiking and snorkeling. Please check with each cruise itinerary for details of activities from snorkeling, kayaking, panga and glass-bottom boat rides to scuba diving.