• A small colony of Galapagos Penguins call this island home, making it a great spot to snorkel with these little fellas.
• Green sea turtles come to Bartolome’s golden sand beach to nest from January to March.
• Whitetip reef sharks can often be spotted cruising around the shallow waters.
• Galapagos hawks nest here, so keep your eyes on the sky.
• Enjoy breathtaking views of the most iconic Galapagos panorama – Pinnacle Rock and up to 10 other islands on a clear day.
English Name: Bartholomew
Total Area:0.5 sq miles
Population: zero (uninhabited)
Bartolome is the most photographed island at Galapagos, and for good reason. The stunning 360 degree panorama, and vivid contrasts of black & red lava, green vegetation, deep blue sea, and golden sand, form the best spot at the archipelago for a scenic happy family snap.
Bartolome Island is also renowned as one of the best Galapagos snorkel sites, with wonderful opportunities to share the water with penguins, playful sealions and reef sharks. The waters around Bartolome are cold due to an upwelling current, so nutrients and food are plentiful, attracting a great diversity of marine species and sea birds like blue footed boobies.
This island used to be a volcano, which helps to explain its dry and rocky appearance today, and sparse vegetation making it unsuitable for most land animals (with the exception of lava lizards). It is considered to be one of the youngest Galapagos islands, most likely formed 1.5 to 2 million years ago. Bartolome’s most unmistakable landmark is Pinnacle Rock, formed naturally by an eroded volcanic cone, although some claim that human forces had a role to play, with US Air Force soldiers using it for target practise during World War 2.
The island name originates from a friend of Charles Darwin, who sailed with him aboard the HMS Beagle in 1835. Sir Bartholomew James Sullivan was principal surveyor and second-lieutenant on the famous voyage, and was also honored with the naming of Sullivan Bay (Santiago Island) after him.
Bartolome also boasts another unique claim to fame – film buffs may recognise Pinnacle Rock from 2003 movie “Master and Commander” starring Russel Crowe. During the Napoleonic wars, a British naval captain (Crowe) chases a French vessel around Cape Horn to the Galapagos Islands to protect British whaling ships based there, with the final sea battle taking place in Galapagos waters. Of course it is a work of fiction, but never-the-less the sight of Pinnacle Rock is unmistakable.
How to visit Bartolome? This small island is just a one to two hour navigation from the Itabaca Channel, making it a great day trip destination from Puerto Ayora (Santa Cruz). It is a highly recommended inclusion to a Galapagos Land Tour itinerary, and is also often visited during Galapagos Cruises.
Visitors to Bartolome can enjoy a wonderful variety of activities: treking up to the peak to enjoy panoramic views, visiting the scenic beaches, snorkeling from the shore, or diving. Read on for more information.
Landing Type: Dry
Trail length: A 30-40 minute trek up to the 114m peak.
Terrain:Easy footing along wooden boardwalks and up 372 steps.
After a dry landing at the concrete dock, the path turns into a wooden boardwalk and staircase of 372 steps. The climb can be tough on a hot day so take plenty of water along with you. After a 30-40 minute ascent, visitors are rewarded with the postcard perfect view of Pinaccle Rock and the beach below, as well as the immense black lava flows on Santiago Island, and Daphne Major and Minor.
Along the way up and down there are other points of interest to look out for. Volcanic formations like spatter, tuff cones and lava flows form a desolately beautiful lunar landscape. Pioneer plants can also be observed – these are the first vegetation to establish roots on new ground, and include endemic Tiquilia nesiotica, Lava cactus, and Scalesia bushes.
Landing Type: Wet
Terrain: Sandy beach
Having seen the panorama from above, now it’s time to get your feet wet and explore the beach below! A wet landing drops visitors to a golden sand beach, with free time to snorkel, swim or sunbathe.
You are only allowed to enter the water on the north beach. The area around Pinnacle Rock is the principal snorkeling site, where humans can share the ocean with speedy penguins, playful sea lions, curious reef sharks, rays, and tropical fish species. This is a highly recommended activity – one of the best snorkel sites at Galapagos.
A short trail also runs through mangroves to the south beach, where sea turtles nest from January to March, and reef sharks and rays can often be see in the shallow waters. No swimming is allowed but wildlife can be observed from the shore.
Also keep your eyes peeled to the sky, for circling Galapagos hawks, or Blue footed boobies diving like bullets to catch fish.
The waters around North Seymour are among the most nutrient-rich of the archipelago, an important feeding site for sea birds like blue footed boobies, also attracting an impressive array of marine species including sharks.
There are several different snorkel sites, your naturalist guide will choose the most suitable one based on local conditions on the day.
Some of the possible underwater species to look out for include: Green Sea Turtles, Sea lions, Whitetip reef sharks, and colorful reef fish such as King Angelfish, Parrotfish, Hogfish and Rays. On a really lucky day you might even spot a Hammerhead shark cruising through.
Contact us for a FREE TOUR QUOTE for Galapagos Land Tours or Cruises, or for more information to plan your Galapagos vacation.
Note: All wildlife sightings are by their very nature unpredictable, and activities may be subject to change by your guide or the National Park Authority.