Highlights and main attractions of Espanola Island

The Galapagos’ most southern island, named Hood Island by the English, is considered, alongside Santa Fe, as one of the oldest of the Galapagos Islands at 4 million years of age. Here the sheer variety and amount of wildlife is almost overwhelming, the star of the show being the endemic Waved Albatross. This island one of only two places in the world where these intriguing birds nest.

After a successful program to remove feral species, Espanola Island is now considered to be the most pristine of the islands with many species of migrant and endemic birds. Endemic species include a rather colourful marine iguana, the Hood mockingbird and a special little lava lizard, all repatriated as a result of a breeding program by the Charles Darwin Research Station and Galapagos National Park.

If you are lucky, you could even watch the winged albatross ‘fencing’ courtship ritual.

Where is Espanola Island?

Location and Activities

It is thought that Espanola Island was formed when lavas were extruded beneath the water’s surface, later uplifting to form an island. Terrain is relatively flat with a few hills and vegetation is rather arid, consisting mainly of thorny plants.

There are two visitor spots on the island, Gardner Bay and Punta Suarez. Gardner Bay is on the north east of the island and a stop here welcomes you with a big white sandy beach peppered with lazy sea lions basking in the heat of the sun. Fearless Hood mockingbirds investigate the new arrivals, often landing on heads in their search of food. The clear waters are perfect for snorkelling and you may encounter the playful sea lions in the waves, as well as rather large tropical fish, such as yellow-tailed surgeonfish and the rather comical looking bump-head parrotfish. You may even spot sea turtles swimming or a white-tipped reef shark snapping on the ocean floor.

At Punta Suarez you follow a trail through a rookery spotting Nazca boobies and blue footed boobies, as well as Galapagos doves, cactus finch and mockingbirds foraging. Keep on the trail to spot a blow-hole created from black lava, moving on to ‘Albatross Airport’, where these magnificent winged creatures launch themselves out over the crashing ocean – further from the cliff you will find their nesting site.

Espanola is home to many of the experiences, animals and landscapes travellers associate with when they think of the Galapagos Islands. A colourful island that we love to encourage visitors to experience.

At Punta Suarez, visitors are often welcomed by sea lion pups as their elders surf the waves.


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