Rábida Island, at 1.89 square miles, is one of the tiniest islands in the Galapagos archipelago, 4.5km south of Santiago Island. Initially called Jervis Island, after the British admiral John Jervis, it was later designated as Rábida Island, after the name of the monastery where Christopher Columbus left his son during his expedition to the New World. It is also known as the Red Island or after its nickname, "Mars on earth", because of the red colour of its landscapes, as a result of oxidation when the island was formed and the iron composition in the soil. The island's terrain features lava formations, cliffs, abrupt slopes made of of volcanic cinders, craters and a red sand beach.
There are many tourist cruises to the island, due to the rich wildlife. The beach is home to a large colony of sea lions and a small brackish lagoon behind it is inhabited by flamingos. Rábida Island is the only place in Galapagos where you can see all 9 species of Dawin’s finches.
When visiting this site on your tour, you can't miss one if its top attractions, that is following a 45-minute trail from the red beach, where you can watch sea lions and marine iguanas lazing in the sun, to the lagoon behind the beach where you can admire the bright pink flamingos. The island's vegetation consists of small bushes, Palo Santo trees and Opuntia cacti. You can also hike up to the hills, and sometimes spot a lava lizard, where you can admire from the clifftop, a fantastic vista over the red beach, the cove and the lagoon.
If you enjoy birdwatching on your tour, you'll definitely not be disappointed here. Besides finches and flamingos, you can observe Galapagos doves, mockingbirds, brown pelicans, pintail ducks, Nazca and blue-footed boobies. Rábida Island is one of the best sites to see up-close pelicans nesting, near the Crouton scouleri bushes.
Snorkeling in the clear waters of Rábida Island is a major attraction to enjoy on your cruise. You will surely have the chance to swim along sea lions. You can also see fur seals, penguins, sea turtles, sharks, eagle rays and eels.
There is a Rat Eradication Project underway on Rábida Island since 2011, as the introduction of rats on the island in the last century negatively affected the vegetation and the fauna. Their eradication should enhance the island's ecosystems.
Rábida Fast Facts:
- Rábida Island features a red lanscape, due to the iron composition in its soil.
- Rábida Island is the only place in Galapagos where you can see all 9 species of Darwin's finches.
- The island's wildlife is very rich, with large colonies of sea lions and many species of birds.
Blue-Footed Booby, Darwin’s Finches, Galapagos Dove, Galapagos Frigatebirds, Galapagos Green Turtle, Galapagos Lava Heron, Galapagos Lava Lizard, Galapagos Marine Iguana, Galapagos Mockingbird, Galapagos Petrel, Galapagos Sea Lion, Galapagos Sting Rays, Nazca Booby