Island-by-Island Overview of the Galapagos
The Galapagos Islands are a nature lover's paradise. Born of erupting volcanoes and never connected to the South American continent, some of the most unusual species in the world evolved here, including giant tortoises, marine iguanas, blue-footed boobies, and even the world's only equatorial penguin. The islands and the marine environment surrounding them comprise the Galapagos National Park and were named a UNESCO "World Heritage Site". With only four islands inhabited by humans, most islands can only be visited with a certified naturalist guide on one of the Galapagos yachts
approved by the park service. Each island offers something unique. Unusual geological formations, tortoise nesting grounds, rare bird species, winding lava flows... These are just a few of the attractions located on individual islands. Read the descriptions below to learn more about the highlights on each island. Contact us
to select a Galapagos cruise that features the islands that interest you most. You can also access the island itineraries for each yacht from our Galapagos cruises page
Santa Cruz is home to the Charles Darwin Station, where visitors can observe tortoise research and breeding programs. Don't forget to say hello to the tortoise Lonesome George - the last of his species. A trip to the highlands offers the chance to see enormous pit craters, lava tunnels, and giant tortoises roaming freely.
The geologically oldest island and home of the oldest settlement in the islands, San Cristóbal claims some of the most spectacular landscapes in the Galapagos. Cloudforests in the highlands are a perfect habitat for giant tortoises, and Punta Pitt is one of the only places to see red-footed boobies.
At Punta Cormorant a flamingo lagoon can be found behind white and black mangroves. Clear water and interesting coral growths make Devil's Crown a perfect spot for snorkeling. Floreana is also home to Post Office Bay, where 18th-century whalers used a barrel as an unofficial mail drop. The custom continues to this day between Galapagos visitors!
The largest and one of the most volcanically active islands, Isabela provide habitat for five subspecies of giant tortoise - one for each of its five volcanoes. West of the island, humpback whales are sometimes seen breaching completely out of the water. Stingrays, small sharks, and turtles are found in mangrove lagoons on Isabela.
No foreign species have ever invaded this island, and, as a result, it claims one of the world's most pristine island ecosystems. After walking past a colony of marine iguanas and a group of lazy sea lions, visitors arrive at the island's highlight - the flightless cormorant nesting site.
This is the southernmost island and the breeding site of nearly all of the world's 12,000 pairs of waved albatrosses. Española teems with mockingbirds, blue-footed and Nazca boobies, Darwin finches, Galapagos doves, hawks, red and green marine iguanas, and sea lions.
Fur sea lions (once called fur seals) were thought to have gone extinct by 1905, but have since made a dramatic comeback. Santiago provides habitat for many of the 30-40,000 fur seal lions that call the Galapagos home. There are also plenty of lazy sea lions on the black beach of Puerto Egas.
This tiny island is packed with countless sea lions and it's one of the most popular breeding grounds for sea birds. A very large colony of frigate birds nest here, and it's almost guaranteed to see a few males proudly displaying their red pouches to impress a mate.
Rábida is a birdwatcher's delight. Some of the rarest species are found in abundance, like nine varieties of finches, large billed flycatchers, Galapagos hawks and brown pelicans. The dark red sand beaches and a horde of snoring sea lions make for spectacular snorkeling.
Home of the famous Pinnacle Rock. Climbing to the top of this island rewards visitors with panoramic views of varied lava formations, volcanic peaks, and a moon-like landscape. Bartolomé also provides the chance to swim with the unique Galapagos Penguin.
Named for its volcanic cone shape that also resembles, you guessed it, a Chinese style hat, is a small island neighboring Santiago Island that has one visitor spot that is excellent for viewing sea lions.
This small, steep-cliffed island was formed by uplifted lava and is covered by Opuntia cacti. It is also home to one of the largest sea lion colonies and colorful yellow and red land iguanas.
Considered a birding paradise, the volcanic sea cliffs offer prime breeding places for frigate birds, swallow-tailed gulls, storm petrels, tropic birds and red-footed boobies.
The endemic land iguanas here can grow over five feet long and in true Galapagos style the Opuntia cactus, a favorite food of the Land Iguana, has responded by growing tall and woody - up to 33 feet high. Manta rays and sea turtles flit by as dark shadows against the sandy bottom of Santa Fe's beautiful anchorage.
Barely an island, more a tiny islet with 600 hundred meters of beach where one of the Galapagos' largest colonies of sea lions and sea birds make home.
A tiny island neighboring larger Santa Cruz Island that primarily serves as the Galapagos Airport (GPS) but also has some interesting human history, including the ruins of a United States military base from the World War II era.
Daphne Major and Minor are best known for the Darwin's finches living on the islands and have been the subject of decades-long research about the evolution of these isolated bird species that is furthering our understanding of the real mechanisms of natural selection and evolution.
Far to the north, these remote islands are only visited as part of liveaboard diving cruises. Divers that make it to the far north reaches of the Galapagos are rewarded with some of the best megafauna diving on the planet with hammerhead sharks and whale sharks being the most famous.