Fernandina Island, the western-most island is an active shield volcano and geologically is the youngest of the Galapagos Islands. The large island is a singular, active volcano which provides an impressive backdrop for the main point of interest on the island: Punta Espinosa. Here you’ll find a stretch of sand and black lava rock extending from the base of the volcano into the sea. Best knownfor its large colonies of marine iguanas, it is also home to a number of Galapagos species including the Galapagos penguin, flightless cormorant, sea turtles and playful sea lions. Fernandina’s recently formed jagged volcanic slopes can be best appreciated by hiking inland to the edge of a large ah ah lava flow (a type of lava flow named after the sound you make after trying to walk over it barefoot, ouch, ouch!). VIEW ON MAP
Floreana, the first Island to have human inhabitants, has four notable points of interest. First, Punta Cormorant has one of the best flamingo lagoons in the Galapagos settled behind a beautiful beach. A variety of shore birds and numerous and unique species of plant life are also available to view in the area. The second point of interest, Devil’s Crown consists of a picket fence-like remains of small volcanic cone, eroded away by the sea, creating an interior habitat ideal for several different types of coral and marine life. It is a perfect spot for snorkeling. The third point is a spectacular Lava Cave, and thefourth points of interest are the Post Office Barrel (wooden barrel placed on Floreana in the 18th century by the crew of a whaling ship in order to communicate by mail). There is a small town, Puerto Velasco Ibarra, and even a hotel run by the Wittmer family, long ago involved in the “Galapagos Affair” a melodrama that ends in mysterious murders highlighed in a popular 2014 documentary film. VIEW ON MAP
Genovesa Island has abundant frigate birds and other notable seabirds, hence its nickname, “Bird Island”. The small beach at Darwin Beach is filled with frigatebird nests, swallow-tailed gulls, red-footed boobies and a number of tidal pools. The trail past the tidal pools has excellent views of the cliff formations along the coast. Prince Philip’s Steps is a steep path that leads through yet another seabird colony where the higlights are Storm Petrels that behave differently than any others on earth, only returning to their nests at night to avoid predators. VIEW ON MAP
Isabela Island. Isabela, the largest island in the Galapagos has myriad points of interest. Urvina Bay, on the western coast of the Island, at the foot of Alcedo Volcano, was uplifted from the sea in 1954. The site is relatively flat, distinguished by sun-baked coral reef remnants and other marine formations, which were lifted out of the ocean. Flightless cormorants and pelicans nest along the coast during their nesting seasons. A tour along the cliffs of the Caleta Tagus (Tagus Cove) provides sensational views of the exclusive Galapagos penguin, the flightless cormorant, and other sea birds. Elizabeth Bay is an extremely interesting area for observing many different forms of marine life. The Experimental Station is located very near the Villamil port in the south of Albemarle. The Galapagos National Park conducts experiments to learn more about the reproduction process of the subspecies of tortoise (Geochelone elephantopus gunteri). White-tipped sharks can be observed a five minute dinghy ride from Villamil Port in Las Tintoreras.
Alcedo Volcano is one of five shield volcanoes that form Isabela Island. There is a famous “Geyser” or a hot steam fumarole, on the west side of the caldera that is often surrounded by the giant Galapagos tortoises specific to Alcedo. At least one night should be spent on the rim to fully appreciate the beauty of the area (something that very, very few visitors get to do).
Volcano Sierra Negra, located at the southern end of Isabela Island, is one of the best and most impressive examples of a volcano in the archipelago. Following the edge of the caldera to the north Volcan Chico is reached.
Volcan Chico comprises of a group of small active fumaroles craters. The Sulfur Volcano, an active fumarole, located in the surrounding area, expels large amounts of sulfur that over time has been deposited in the area creating a unique landscape. Volcano Sierra Negra caldera is the second largest in the world after Ngorongoro in Africa. VIEW ON MAP
South Plaza is one of two small uplifted islands that are a short distance from the east coast of Santa . Cruz Island. South Plaza has a unique Sesuvium and Opuntia landscape, which provides some of the most interesting wildlife observation available in Galapagos. Land iguanas, frequently in the shade of a cactus, are easily seen from the trail. Swallow-tailed gulls, along with various other sea birds are seen soaring between the land and the sky and the protected rocky seashore is prime habitat for a large colony of noisy sea lions. VIEW ON MAP
Rabida, located behind the picturesque sea lion strewn, dark red beach is a salt-water lagoon where flamingos are often seen. A beautiful hike to the left of the beach is excellent for birdwatching, exploring the red coastline, and the palo santo forests whose stark contrast to the red earth provides striking photo opportunities. VIEW ON MAP
San Cristobal is home to the second largest human population on the Islands, Puerto Baquerizo Moreno. The town, and the sea lion covered beach are worth a visit. Junco Lagoon is located high on San Cristobal, at an altitude of 700 meters is a unique ecosystem on the Islands. El Junco has been the object of a study in which the sediments on the bottom of the lake were analyzed to uncover information about the vegetation and climate of the Archipelago thousands of years ago.
A nearby islet, Kicker Rock, a giant uplifted rock, shaped liked a sleeping lion is split in two and provides a passage for small vessels to pass through.