Marvel at dense forests of prickly pear, pose for a photo next to a sunbathing sea lion and spot endemic iguanas and rats.
Walk amid the striking volcanic rock formations and thick forests of Santa Fé Island (Isla Santa Fé). Get close to amicable sea lions, colorful iguanas and varied birdlife. Santa Fé Island is encircled by sparkling blue-green water between two of the Galápagos Islands’ more tourist-adapted destinations. Featuring 4-million-year-old geological sites, it is one of the oldest islands in the collection. It is sometimes called Barrington Island, after the 18th-century British naval admiral Samuel Barrington.
Start your visit with a short panga boat ride to an isolated beach on Barrington Bay. Colonies of basking sea lions welcome you to the beach and present the opportunity to take memorable photos. Beware of the boisterous bulls, which are known to chase visitors who get too close. Gaze out to sea and watch as the occasional turtle comes up for air and as sea lions surf in the small waves.
Stroll along a short loop trail to see a forest of giant opuntia (prickly pear). This species of cactus is an important source of nourishment for the Galápagos Islands’ endangered giant tortoises. Spot blue-footed boobies, cactus finches and Galápagos hawks. Look for the Barrington land iguana, characterized by its pale yellow skin color, long snout and accentuated spines.
Another trail travels up a cliff to a lookout with views of the island’s low-rising and bushy inland countryside. Good snorkeling and the opportunity to swim with sea lions exist around the peninsula at Barrington Bay. Find three dives sites along the northern and eastern coastal region: Costa Este, El Encañada and El Fondeador. Sea lions are the main attraction, although rays, sea turtles and sharks sometimes visit the waters as well.
Santa Fé Island is a short boat cruise from both San Cristóbal Island and Santa Cruz Island. Explore the island’s beauty on a daytrip from Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz Island. Alternatively, include it on an enthralling multiday island-hopping cruise of this unique archipelago.