Espanola Island is the oldest and southernmost island in the Galapagos Islands. It is home base for the waved albatross-the largest of the sea birds. Over 70,000 birds live on Espanola when not out at sea for extended periods during the year. The waved albatross can circumnavigate the globe in less than fifty days. The birds are exceptional gliders, and often sleep while in flight!
The four-million-year-old island sits on Gardner Bay, where a fine white sand beach stretches for a mile and a half. Sea kayaking, snorkeling, swimming and diving in the tropical, turquoise waters around the island are adventures that take you into the pristine natural waters of the Galapagos Marine Reserve.
Punta Saurez in the island’s main landing point, marked by sea lions on the shore. The rocky shores of the area are teaming with blue-footed and Nazca boobies, as well as waved albatrosses. The Hood mockingbirds and endemic land lizards are also often spotted in the area. Espanola Island marine iguanas, seen along the trail upwards to a lookout point over the sea, are larger than others, found in the archipelago. Nearby is a blowhole that launches water up to a hundred feet into the air.
Today, there is a growing colony of giant tortoises on the island. After discovering a dwindling population of only 14 tortoises in the 1960s, the Galapagos National park and the Charles Darwin Foundation reintroduced 2,000 young tortoises on the island.
Activities-Sightseeing, bird watching, hiking
Wildlife-Blue-footed, red-footed, and Nazca boobies, marine and land iguanas, sea lions
Gardner Bay, reached via a short trail from Punta Saurez, is a stunning stretch of Pacific beach where sea turtles nest, sea lion playing in the water, and sally lightfoot crabs scurry back and forth across the sand.
Espanola Island Mockingbirds and different kinds of finches frequent the beach, and the snorkeling and swimming are among the most relaxing in the islands.
The trail to see the waved albatross colony starts at Punta Suarez and passes Garner Bay before heading inland through an overgrown volcanic boulder field. The field is one place to find waved albatrosses when the season is right. The trail continues to a cliff-top lookout, where blue-footed and masked boobies take to the air alongside waved albatrosses and Galapagos hawks. After the lookout, the trail continues through bluffs where marine and land iguanas dot the trail before arriving back at the seashore.
Activities-hiking, kayaking, swimming, and snorkeling
Wildlife-Sea lions, different kinds of ray, sea turtles, white-tipped reef sharks, reef fish, waved albatrosses, boobies, Galapagos hawks, Española Mockingbirds, sally lightfoot crabs, marine and land iguanas.
Gardner Islet or Seamount
Located close to the main island, Gardener Seamount has depths of 80 ft. that descend along coral walls to underwater caves. Eagle rays, manta rays, jacks, Galapagos shark, white-tip reef sharks, and occasionally hammerheads use the area as a cleaning and feeding station. Huge schools of vibrant reef fish dart back and forth amid sea lions, and sea turtles. Look for red-lipped batfish on the sandy sea bottom.
Activities-Scuba diving, snorkeling
Wildlife-sharks, rays, sea turtles, sea lions, reef fish, red-lipped batfish, and eels
Highlights-birdwatching and sightseeing, snorkeling, scuba diving, kayaking, and hiking
Note: All information is intended as a general guide of what you might be able to see or do on this island. In reality, wildlife sightings are by nature unpredictable, and activities may be subject to change by your guide or the National Park Authority.