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Bartolome Island, Galapagos


Bartolome Island is a spectacular volcanic islet right in the center of the Galapagos Islands. Measuring 1.2 square kilometers (0.5 square miles), it’s a small island, but despite its size, Bartolome is arguably the most popular and most photographed island in the archipelago. Blessed with jaw-dropping volcanic landscapes and the iconic Pinnacle Rock, the uninhabited isle is a highlight of any Galapagos tour.

An extinct volcano, Bartolome features an enchanting landscape of golden shores, patches of lush vegetation, and volcanic rock formations in vibrant red, orange, and black. The island was named after naturalist Sir Bartholomew James Sullivan, a friend of Charles Darwin who was with him on the famed 1835 HMS Beagle expedition.

A dry landing site leads to the island’s summit, while a wet landing site takes Galapagos tours straight to the beach by Pinnacle Rock. Despite the island’s diminutive size, it’s one of the most popular stops on a Galapagos Islands cruise. Travelers hail the island for its postcard-perfect scenery, with the viewpoint commanding 360-degree panoramic views of Bartolome and other Galapagos isles. It also boasts some of the best snorkeling and scuba diving opportunities in this region, including the possibility, with a little luck, of snorkeling with adorable Galapagos penguins.

Key Visitor Points

Bartolome Viewpoint & Stairs

Trek along a wooden boardwalk and wooden stairway for the best views of the entire Galapagos; although a challenging 30-minute climb, the rewards at the top are well worth the effort. Upon reaching the summit, travelers are greeted with an awe-inspiring panorama of the Galapagos Islands. Nearby isles like Santiago Island are visible. Moreover, the wonders of Bartolome are even more captivating from this angle, with the ancient lava flows almost alien-like in their beauty and Pinnacle Rock eye-catching even from a distance. Take the time to soak in this scenery—it’s probably the most famous perspective of the archipelago.

Pinnacle Rock

Perhaps the most iconic landmark of the Galapagos Islands, Pinnacle Rock is a lofty volcanic monolith rising from the ocean. The rock formation features a slightly sharpened tip that makes it look like an arrowhead, a unique shape owed to the erosion of the volcanic cone over time.

Twin Beaches

Between the Viewpoint and Pinnacle Rock, the island’s narrow expanse features a golden sand beach on opposite sides. With golden shores and brilliant waters, the northern beach is excellent for swimming and snorkeling—and it’s not uncommon for playful animals to join beachcombers in the water. Penguins, sea lions, sea turtles, white-tipped reef sharks, and other tropical fish often swim alongside snorkelers as they explore the ocean around the island. As such, Bartolome is one of the most popular snorkeling sites in the Galapagos Islands.

ky birders may even get a glimpse of the San Cristobal mockingbird, which is endemic to the island.

Wildlife in Bartolome Island

As Bartolome is a small island, most of the animals here are marine creatures that are best observed on a snorkeling or diving trip.

The most famous of the wildlife in Bartolome Island is the Galapagos penguin, with a modest colony living in the small cave behind Pinnacle Rock. Sea lions are also commonly seen on these shores, while green sea turtles nest on the island during the first few months of the year.

Dive underwater to experience more of the animal kingdom on Bartolome Island. From white-tipped reef sharks to rays, the marine life in the surrounding waters is rich and varied. Barracudas, eels, and octopi are frequent sights, along with tropical fish in all shapes, sizes, and colors.

Birds like blue-footed boobies and Galapagos hawks also live on the island, so keep an eye out for avian life as well. However, land animals are scarce; only lava lizards are seen living on the island.

Visiting Bartolome, Galapagos

With breathtaking panoramic views, vibrant wildlife, and first-rate snorkeling and diving, Bartolome Island is a staple in any Galapagos cruise itinerary. It’s also a frequent inclusion in land-based tours from Santa Cruz. Join a Galapagos Islands cruise for an unforgettable experience on Bartolome and beyond.