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Galapagos Islands Guide: The 7 Small Islands

  |   Galapagos

Getting ready for your Galapagos adventure? Our Island Guide is a resource you can use, before, or after, your Galapagos Cruise Tour to learn about the different Islands that make up the magical Galapagos archipelago. The Galapagos is made up of 20 Islands, 13 large (main) islands and 7 small islands. You can be sure that each day, you’ll be astonished by the striking landscapes each Island offers: sparkling blue waters, unique volcanic rock formations and an abundance of marine wildlife. 

Map of the Galapagos Islands

Map of the Galapagos Islands

The 7 Small Galapagos Islands– What You Should Know

1. Plazas Islands (North & South Plaza Island) 

Plaza Islands are two crescent-shaped islands, located off the East coast of Santa Cruz Island. South Plaza Island has a visitor site, while North Plaza Island is only open to scientists for research purposes. South Plaza Island is popular for day trips from Puerto Ayora. It is home to a variety of typical Galapagos wildlife including sea lions, land iguanas, swallow-tailed gulls and red-billed tropic birds. South Plaza Island is best known for its flora, as it is home to the succulent Sesuvium plant and many prickly pear cactus trees. 

Human Population: 0 

South Plaza Island Altitude: 23 m or 75 ft 

South Plaza Island Area: 0.13 km² or 0.05 mi² (South Plaza)

Prickly Pear Cactus Trees observed from South Plaza Island

Prickly Pear Cactus Trees observed from South Plaza Island

2. The Daphnes Islands

Similar to the Plaza Islands, the Daphnes Islands are made up of two islands, Daphne Major and Daphne Minor, located north of Santa Cruz Island. A large number of introduced species inhabit these islands, making access very restricted. To visit the islands you need to obtain a special permit. Nazca boobies, red-billed tropicbirds, and blue-footed boobies can be found nesting on Daphne Major and on Daphne Minor, divers can observe sea lions, sea turtles, Eagle Rays, various species of sharks, and a large quantity of benthic organisms that live on the underwater walls of the island. These organisms create a multi-colored undersea world.

Human Population: 0

Daphnes Islands Altitude: 38 m or 123 ft

Daphnes Islands Area: 4.9 km² or 1.9 mi²

 

3. Bartolomé Island 

This is a volcanic islet with no human population and it is one of the newer Galapagos islands. It was named after a good friend of Charles Darwin, Sir Bartholomew Sulivan, who was the captain on the HMS Beagle. The island is renowned as the filming location for the blockbuster movie ‘Master and Commander’ and for being the home to the Galapagos Penguin. Pinnacle Rock is a must see on the island and the adjacent beaches are filled with a wide array of wildlife; sea turtles lay their eggs on the north beach between January and March and other tropical fish and sea lions can be seen whilst snorkelling and diving in the area. It is prohibited, however, to swim on the southern beach but it is still worth a visit as Spotted Eagle Rays and Black-tipped Sharks can be commonly viewed.

Human Population: 0

Bortolomé Island Altitude: 114 m or 375 ft

Bortolomé Island Area: 1.2 km² or 0.5 mi²

Panoramic View on Bortolomé Island

Panoramic View on Bortolomé Island

4. North Seymour Island

North Seymour Island, located above Balta Island, was named after the English nobleman Lord Hugh Seymour and also lacks a human population. It is the home to an extensive display of birdlife including the blue-footed boobies, whose mating ritual includes a humorous dance, swallow-tailed gulls and frigate birds who have wingspans of 2.3 meters. The island is also home to over 2,000 land iguanas. The island has a 1.2 mile trail for tourists that cuts into the middle of the island and explores the rocky coast.  

Human Population: 0

North Seymour Island Altitude: 28 m or 92 ft

North Seymour Island Area: 1.83 km² or 1.14 mi²

Blue-Footed Booby observed on North Seymour Island

Blue-Footed Booby observed on North Seymour Island

5. Rábida Island

This Island is known for its red beaches, and overall red appearance due to large quantities of iron in the lava. Its one of the most volcanically varied islands in the Galapagos. Flamingos previously inhabited the island but moved due to a lack of food. In 1971, the park service managed to eradicate goats that were destroying the wildlife but not before geckos, land iguanas and rice rats all became extinct from the island. Today you can find marine iguanas, sea lions, blue-footed boobies and Nazca boobies. Rábida Island is a great place for visitors to see Brown Pelicans nesting up close. 

Human Population: 0

Rábida Island Altitude: 367 m or 1203 ft

Rábida Island Area: 4.9 km² or 1.89 mi²

Brown Pelican on the Red Rabida Island

Brown Pelican on the Red Rabida Island

6. Wolf Island

Wolf Island is well-known among scuba divers and barely visited by tourists. The island is named after the German geologist, Theodor Wolf, and it is one of the most remote islands in the Galapagos archipelago (located close to Darwin Island). It’s home to a large range of marine wildlife: Hammerhead, Galapagos and Whale sharks, sea turtles and manta rays can all be seen here. The climate of Wolf Island is very dry, and rarely gets rain during the year. 

Human Population: 0

Wolf Island Altitude: 253 m or 830 ft

Wolf Island Area: 2.85 km² or 1.1 mi² 

Galapagos Land Iguana 

Galapagos Land Iguana 

7. Darwin Island 

Darwin Island is named after Charles Darwin himself. It is uninhabited by humans but, its home to the Fur Seagull, the Marina Iguana, Sea Lions and Whales. The Sooty Tern chooses this Island to breed, it will not breed on any other Galapagos Island. The island is not normally visited by tourists, only sometimes by expert divers, as the marine life is impressive; schools of Hammerhead sharks can sometimes be seen. The main attraction of the Darwin Island is the “Darwin Arch,” which is a large stone arch formation. 

Human Population: 0

Darwin Island Altitude: 168 m or 550 ft

Darwin Island Area: 2.33 km² or 0.9 mi²

Darwin Arch, Galapagos

Darwin Arch, Galapagos

For more information about our Galapagos Cruises, Contact Us today! For information about Galapagos conservation, visit the Galapagos Conservancy


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