The different islands

Islands in Brief

Each island in the Galapagos has its own charm, and also wildlife highlights.  The more time you have to explore, the richer your experience will become. Find out more about each island with this Galapagos island information.


Santa Cruz

santacruzMost people begin and end their trip to the Galápagos on Santa Cruz. Puerto Ayora the main town of Galapagos is on Santa Cruz. It is a lively and attractive small harbor town. It has a good range of small hotels, restaurants, gift shops, and tour operators. It is also home to the Charles Darwin Research Station, where you can observe tortoises and other wildlife with ease. Santa Cruz has many places of interest to see wildlife, and to snorkel. As it is the main harbor of Galapagos where local boats come and go from, it is also a great base from which to visit other islands.


Bartolome Island

Bartolome island is famous for its fantastic vistas (many think it’s the best view in the Galapagos islands) and a barren volcanic landscape. Boats anchor near the dramatically shaped Pinnacle Rock and you then climb the 372 steps to reach the top of an extinct volcano. On the track you will view lava lizards and cactuses. At the top is a stunning view from the top of nearby islands and below to Pinnacle Rock. Bartolome island has the largest colony of Galápagos penguins. There is excellent snorkeling amongst the penguins and also many varied and colorful fish. On the other side of the island, is a white sandy beach famous for reef sharks sunning themselves in the shallows.


San Cristóbal

San Cristobal has much to offer. Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, the main town, is a pretty small port with an attractive waterfront boardwalk (Malecón). Here you can find sea lions sunning themselves. In fact, as you hope off your boat at the jetty the first thing you normally find is some sea lions sunning themselves directly in you path! The Interpretive Center is a main attraction. There are exhibits of the human and geological history of the island. El Lobería is just 5 minutes by taxi from town. This is a pretty beach with sea lions, red crabs, and colorful lava gulls. There is also La Galapaguera de Cerro Colorado. This is a natural reserve for Giant Tortoises. A popular day boat excursion is to kicker rock. This is a famous site for snorkeling or diving.


Santiago (James Island)

100 to 200 years ago Santiago was a major base where early pirates stocked up on fresh water and food. This had catastrophic results, with the eco system being destroyed by the affects of introduced species. Pirates left a few feral goats as a future source of food. However, they reproduced to the point where they numbered over 100,000! This destroyed the fragile soil structure, and desolated the island.  Today effort are in place to greatly reduced the size of the herds of wild goats as they wreaking havoc on certain native species, including giant tortoises.
On Santiago Island you have the chance to see the only endemic species of sea lion in the Galapagos.  There is also excellent snorkeling here. The island is also full of coastal birds such as great blue herons, lava herons, oystercatchers, and yellow-crowned night herons.



Isabela Island is the largest island in the Galapagos, and has some of the best to offer of all the islands. It was formed by the volcanic activity and the joining of six different volcanoes (five of which are still active).
Isablea is home to several different species of the giant Galapagos land tortoise. Isabela is also particularly prized by bird-watchers.  A common species on Isablea is the flamingo. These can be found very close to the main town of Puerto Villamil at the  Pozo de los Flamingos (Flamingo Pond).  Another main attractions is El Muro de Lágrimas (The Wall of Tears), a stone wall built be prisoners kept in a penal colony here during the mid-20th century (Yes, the Galapagos islands also have a dark side to their history).
Isabela has many great hiking, horse riding and mountain-biking options. The most popular is to Cerro Negro, a massive active volcanic crater, and then to Cerro Chico(spectacular panoramic views). Right by the jetty and marina is amazing snorkeling, where you can see reef sharks and many different types or rays and also turtles.  There is also panga (dinghy) rides to Tagus Cove, where you can view Galápagos penguins.