Española Island is a relatively small island, of 23 square miles, to the southeast of the Galapagos archipelago, and it is considered to be one of the oldest islands, being approximately four million years old. It is also known as ""Hood Island"", named by the English in honour of the admiral Samuel Hood. It was formed on the remains of an extinct volcano and erosion turned the landscape into a flat one, with low elevation, as the maximum altitude on the island is 675 ft. The best way to visit the island is on a Galapagos Islands cruise.
The remoteness of the island has given way to the existence of a diversity of wildlife, including endemic species like the waved albatross, the Española mockingbird and the Española lava lizard. It is renowned for being the only breeding site in the world for the population of 25,000- 30,000 Waved Albatrosses, a critically endangered species. One of the best parts of your cruise is watching their extravagant mating dance, that lasts up to five days and is a truly funny and beautiful performance and to photograph on your bird-watching tour. BirdLife International, the global partnership of NGOs striving to preserve birds and their habitats, recognized Española Island as an Important Bird Area.
Española Island has two famous visitor sites: Punta Suarez and Gardner Bay. Punta Suarez is one of the most popular sites in the archipelago, due to the abundance and variety of wildlife. You are met everywhere by playful sea lions and marine iguanas. By following the trail here you pass by a beach teeming with sea lions and Española Lava Lizards, then through saltbushes where you can spot Española Mockingbirds, Galapagos Hawks, Darwin finches, Galapagos Doves and nesting colonies of Nazca and blue-footed boobies. The trail leads inland to a cliff that offers an amazing view of the ocean and where you can see at high tide water spraying up to 75 ft into the air, due to a natural blowhole created by waves crashing into a lava fissure. Gardner Bay features an amazing white sand beach, measuring 2km in length, one of the longest in the archipelago, that you will most likely be sharing with sea lions. It is a great place for relaxing, but also swimming and snorkeling. You can grab your gear from your Galapagos cruise and simply enjoy the beauties it has to offer.
Tortuga Rock and Gardner Island are two sensational marine sites on Española Island, great for snorkeling and diving, where you can encounter a kaleidoscope of tropical fish, like King Angelfish and the Yellow-tailed Surgeon fish, but also sea lions, White-tipped Reef Sharks and rays. The rocky walls and the underwater caves offer a wonderful landscape to explore on your cruise.
The Charles Darwin Foundation and the Galapagos National Park have managed to rescue the species of Española giant tortoises, who was in danger of extinction in the 1960s, with only 14 individuals left at the time. Their number is restored nowadays and thriving, as more than 2 000 young tortoises were released on the island since then.
Española Fast Facts:
- Home to many endemic species, Española Island is the world's only breesing site for the Waved Albatross.
- The Española giant tortoises almost went extinct in the 1960s, but their population was restored.
- Española Island was named "Hood Island" by the English.
Blue-Footed Booby, Brown Pelican, Darwin’s Finches, Galapagos Dove, Galapagos Frigatebirds, Galapagos Green Turtle, Galapagos Hawk, Galapagos Lava Gull, Galapagos Lava Lizard, Galapagos Marine Iguana, Galapagos Mockingbird, Galapagos Petrel, Galapagos Racer Snake, Galapagos Sea Lion, Galapagos Shearwater, Galapagos Sting Rays, Galapagos Waved Albatross, Nazca Booby