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Cactus on Santiago Island

Santiago Island - Galapagos Travel Guide

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Santiago Island is in the central islands of Galapagos, northwest of Santa Cruz, with impressive volcanoes that form the island and truly breathtaking landscapes of Palo Santo forests that thrive on it's slopes. Also called San Salvador island, it is uninhabited but has a history of colonization including an abandoned salt mine that can be seen near the Puerto Egas visitor spot and beach. Galapagos Fur Seals were thought to have gone extinct by 1905, but have since made a dramatic comeback and thrive on Santiago island. Santiago provides habitat for many of the 30-40,000 fur seals that call the Galapagos home and are frequently spotted on the black beach of Puerto Egas. Not sure which of the Galapagos islands to visit? Get advice from one of our Galapagos travel experts, we're happy to help. 

Cruises & Tours Visiting Santiago Island

Santiago Island Visitor Spots

Santiago is a central island right between Isabela and Santa Cruz with impressive rock formations and truly breathtaking landscapes.

Sullivan Bay – The landing at Sullivan Bay puts you right on a very young pahoehoe lava flow. As you trek across this distinct rock surface, you will see how the flows have layered and hardened. This is also distinct for the lava-burned vegetation around the periphery and the cracks that formed when some of the magma cooled rapidly. These kind of hikes will give you an up-close look at just how these islands are born.  

Espumilla Beach – This golden beach is tucked in James Bay on the northern side of the island. Snorkelers will delight in the diversity of marine species, from moray eels, to rays and sharks, and even octopi. On shore, the bright red Sally lightfoot crabs dot the beach and attract hungry herons. In addition to the palo santo forest, you will see plenty of marine iguanas and perhaps a nesting sea turtle.

Puerto Egas– Also located in James Bay is this beachfront visitor site. As the tide comes in, impressive grottos fill with water and the fauna comes alive for snorkelers – rays, reef sharks, sea turtles, and marine iguanas are just a few of the wonderful things you will see when you dive. Sea lions, Galapagos hawks, finches, and oystercatchers also call these rock formations their home. If you hike to the end of the beach, you will be at the foot of Sugarloaf Volcano, from which the beach gets its black sand. Also near the beach is El Crater, a saltwater lake during the wet season, but a salt mine during the dry season. Although several mining operations have been attempted here, none have proven successful.

Buccaneer Cove – Before the Galapagos became a popular tourist destination, it was a sanctuary for pirates. Few sites pay homage to this nefarious past as much as Buccaneer Cove, where pirates used to hide out in the cave. Snorkelers will appreciate the clear turquoise waters that house sting rays, turtles, and tropical fish; and there’s a short trail that winds through the mangroves, where the turtles lay their eggs.

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