THE MAIN ISLANDS 

The Galàpagos Archipelago consists of 18 major islands (each having a land area at least 1 km2), 3 smaller islands, and 107 rocks and islets. The size of it is much bigger than people tend to think as all the islands put together consist of 7,880 km2 of total land mass. The distance between the Islands is also fairly big. Espanola Island, the southernmost islet of the archipelago, and Darwin Island, the northernmost one, are spread out over a distance of 220 km. Due to the distances, most cruises in the Galapagos Islands concentrate on the Central Islands, presented in more detail below. 

San Cristóbal

The first island in the Galapagos that Charles Darwin visited during his voyage on the Beagle in 1835. The capital of the archipelago, Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, lies at the south-western tip of the island, and here you find the second airport in the Galapagos. San Cristóbal is the most fertile island of the archipelago and is the second most populated after Santa Cruz (pop. of about 6000). Great visitor sites are Isla Lobos, Kicker Rock and Pitt Point. This island hosts frigatebirds, Galápagos sea lions, Galápagos tortoises, blue and red footed boobies, tropicbirds, marine iguanas, dolphins and swallow-tailed gulls. 

Isabela

Isabela is the archipelago’s largest island. Its characteristic seahorse shape was formed by the joining of six young volcanoes merging into one big island. All of these volcanoes except Ecuador are still active, making it one of the most volcanically active places on earth. The volcanic regions contain extensive lava fields and little vegetation, whereas the southern highlands and other parts are covered by dense vegetation including the unique Red Mangrove. Volcán Wolf on Isabela is the highest point in the Galapagos, with an elevation of 1,707 m. above sea level. Isabela's rich animal, bird, and marine life is beyond compare and it is home to more wild tortoises than all the other islands. The west coast of Isabela in the Bolivar Channel is the best place in Galápagos for viewing whales and dolphins. Isabela Island is also home to many native Galapageños living in the Island’s largest town, Puerto Villamil with approx. 2.200 people. 

 

Floreana

Floreana is located at the far south of the archipelago. Famous for its old Post Office established here by whalers in the 1700´s, the island is also known for being the place where the first Galapagos inhabitant lived, and Irishman from 1807 to 1809.  Flamingoes can be seen wading through the salt water lagoons near Cormorant Point looking for shrimp, which gives them their bright and vibrant colors. There are also two amazing beaches there, one is powdery white from pulverized coral, the other looks green because of olivine crystals. Another magical place here is Devil´s Crown that boasts the best snorkelling opportunities in Galapagos. Below the surface are amazing volcanic structures and hundreds of different colorful fish species can be seen among the coral reefs.

Fernandina

Fernandina is the youngest island of the archipelago and is an active shield volcano that has been erupting since April 11, 2009. Due to its recent volcanic activity, the island does not present much plant life and has a mostly rocky surface. Visitors to Fernandina Island will be taken to see only the outskirts of the crater for safety reasons. No foreign species have ever invaded Fernandina Island and therefore it is one of the world's most pristine island ecosystems. Punta Espinoza is a narrow stretch of land where hundreds of marine iguanas gather in large groups on black lava rocks. The famous non-flying Cormorant can be seen in this island, as well as penguins, pelicans and sea lions. Many different types of lava discharges can be seen. Mangrove areas may also be seen in this island.

 

Santiago

Santiago was the second island visited by Charles Darwin and was originally named after England´s King James the second. The island was a good source of salt, water and food for whalers and pirates passing. There was a salt mine inland that was used to salt fish and tortoise meat. Santiago Island is today one of the most visited islands. Bartholomew is a satelitte island of Santiago. It is home to the famous Pinnacle Rock, a volcano cone formed my magma from an underwater volcano. Featured in the 2003 movie “Master and Commander”, it is one of the most photographed place in Galapagos. Next to Pinnacle Rock there is a beautiful beach, where green sea turtles come to nest. Galapagos penguins gather here and the snorkeling is amazing. Here you come close to sea lions, rays, sea turtles, sharks and many colorful fish.

Española

Espanola is the southernmost island in the Galapagos, as well as the oldest. It is estimated to be about four million years old. Because it is so far from the other islands it has the most endemic species and offers unique experiences. Here you find the waved albatrosses from March to January, almost the entire world population breeds on the island. This flat islands boasts some amazing beaches as in Gardner Bay. Several types of Darwin finches are found here, as well as the local Espanola Mockingbird. Green sea turtles will come to nest their eggs on the beach between Jan-March. 

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