galapagos islands
The Galapagos Islands are located 600 miles west of mainland Ecuador. The Islands and surrounding waters are a national park, biological marine reserve and one of twenty-four Ecuadorian provinces. With the diverse variety of land and sea animals found here, the Galapagos Islands continues to attract many visitors to its shores. Options for flying into the Galapagos are restricted to the islands of San Cristobal and Baltra. Of the islands, there are thirteen main islands and three smaller islands. Some of these are as follows:

Santa Cruz

After Isabela, Santa Cruz Island is the second largest among the Galápagos Islands, with an area of 381 square miles; basically, this island is a large dormant volcano. The capital and most populated urban center is Puerto Ayora. Almost every visitor spends some time there; even if it’s commuting from airport to a cruise ship. For anyone who stays long-term, the island is more than just a place to feel connected to the modern world; it’s a destination full of attractions, beaches and interior highlands.

Isabela

With an area of 1,790 square miles, Isabela is the largest of the Galápagos Islands. Shaped like a sea horse, this island is four times the size of Santa Cruz. Isabela’s only settlement is Puerto Villamil; This longtime fishing village recently became a tourist destination. This  is a beautiful island that is known for its diverse selection of animal, bird, and marine wildlife. In addition, Isabela is home to more wild tortoises than all the other Galapogos Islands combined.

Fernandina Island

Fernandina Island is the third largest of the Galápagos Islands. It was formed by the Galápagos hotspot and is an active shield volcano. Because of the volcanic activity and its youth, Fernandina has less plant life than some of the other islands, including nearby Isabela. Most of the plant life there is mangroves found along the shoreline, providing cover for birds and small fish. What Fernandia lacks in plant life, it makes up in animal life. In addition, Fernandina and nearby Isabela are home to much of the Galapagos penguin population.

Espanola Island

Espanola Island is the most southern of the Galapagos Islands and is a popular tourist stop. One of the islands most popular features is  its breathtaking  diversity of fauna. From Santa Cruz it is about a eleven hour trip by boat. Two spots of special interest include: Bahía Gardner and Punta Suarez. Bahia is known for its beautiful beach.  Punta Suarez is known for its diversity of  birds. Lastly from January until March, tourists come to see the Waved Albatrosses.

Floreana Island

Floreana Island is named after the first president of Ecuador Juan José Flores. The island is sixty-seven square miles in size and is home to one of the oldest settlements in the Galapagos Islands.  Floreana has a variety of native & introduced flora; wildlife viewing is great throughout the island too. Punta Cormorant is a popular place to visit. On the beaches, you will see Pintails, Flamingos and other species of birds. Lastly, if you are interested  in seeing eroded volcanic cones, consider visiting  Devil’s Crown.

Baltra

Baltra Island, also known as South Seymour is a small island center of the Galápagos Islands. This is usually the first place where tourists touch ground. Although it lacks attractions for visitors, this is one of the main gateways of the Galapogos. Although land animals are sparse on Baltra, the grasslands provide cover for several types of birds. Also, every now and then Sea lions can be spotted.

Pinta, Galapagos Islands

Named for the Pinta caravel, this island has an area of 23 square miles and a maximum altitude of 2,549 feet. Some species found there include Sea lions, hawks, giant tortoises, and marine iguanas. Once, Pinta Island had a thriving tortoise population; due to the poaching of these giants over the years, the number of tortoises have diminished to the point that there was only one. Lonesome George was the last Pinta tortoise; he died in 2012. Other animals and birds found there includes the swallow-tailed gulls and fur seal. If you decide to visit the Galapagos Islands, this is a good place to see.

Related posts: