Bartholomew Island is an unpopulated small island, of 0.5 square miles, located in the center of Galapagos, on the east side of Santiago Island, and it is one of the most picturesque and visited islands of the archipelago on Galapagos tours. The island's highest point is 374ft, at the end of a 300-step staircase, and on a sunny day you can spot more than 10 islands from the top. The 360-degrees panorama awaiting here, of the island itself and the surrounding ocean and islands, and the contrast of colours make this view one of the most photographed in Galapagos, well worth the expedition. You might recognize it from the 2003 movie starring Russell Crowe, "Master and Commander".
The island was named after Sir Bartholomew James Sullivan, a naturalist working on the famous HMS Beagle, who was also a friend of Charles Darwin. It was formed on the remains of an extinct volcano and, at 1.5 million years old, it is considered to be one of the younger islands of the archipelago.
The landing site for your Galapagos island cruise is opposite Pinnacle Rock and there's a trail visitors can follow on their tour, allowing them to admire volcanic rock formations, like spatter cones, tuff cones and lava flows, and the Scalesia bushes and lava cacti growing here. The island's rocky and dry landscape, together with the lava flows, will make you feel like you're walking on the moon. Occasionally, you might catch a glimpse of a lava lizard.
One of the highlights of Bartholomew Island, and the most photographed site in the archipelago, is the Pinnacle Rock, a volcanic rock formation that serves as a nesting site for penguins and sea lions, together with a variety of marine birds. Stories regarding the creation of this formation vary, as some people say its origin is natural, but others think the US Air Force formed it and used it as a target practice during World War II. At the foot of this landmark, there is a golden-sand beach perfect for snorkeling, where you can spot and swim along tropical fish, reef sharks, marine turtles, rays, sea lions and penguins.
The clear waters and the amazing underwater landscape, together with the variety of marine life make this snorkeling site one of the best in Galapagos, which you'll definitely enjoy on your cruise. Besides snorkeling, the beach is also great for swimming or simply relaxing and lazing in the sun. Above water, blue-footed boobies can be spotted soaring high and then plummeting down in the water for catching fish. Galapagos hawks can also be observed up in the sky, as they have a nesting spot here. And from January to March green sea turtles come to nest on Bartholomew Island's south beach.
Bartholomew Fast Facts:
- The volcanic Pinnacle Rock formation is the most photographed in Galapagos.
- The 360-degrees vista from the highest point of the island is the most renowned in Galapagos.
- The snorkeling site at the base of Pinnacle Rock is one of the best in the archipelago.
Blue-Footed Booby, Brown Pelican, Darwin’s Finches, Galapagos Dove, Galapagos Frigatebirds, Galapagos Green Turtle, Galapagos Hawk, Galapagos Lava Gull, Galapagos Lava Heron, Galapagos Lava Lizard, Galapagos Marine Iguana, Galapagos Mockingbird, Galapagos Penguin, Galapagos Petrel, Galapagos Sea Lion, Galapagos Sting Rays, Great Blue Heron, Nazca Booby, Yellow-crowned Night Heron