Santa Fe Island is a 9.3 square miles island, south east of Santa Cruz Island, estimated to be approximately 4 million years old, one of the oldest in the Galapagos archipelago. Geologically, the island differs from most of the other Galapagos islands, as its origin is not volcanic, but caused by an uplift. It is also known as Barrington Island, after Samuel Barrington, a British admiral.
Relatively flat, the island is distinctive by the amount of vegetation growing here, even a thick forest of the Opuntia Echios pear cacti. They can get very large, even up to 10 meters tall, and they offer a very unique sight, so they are a popular photography subject on travellers' tours. There are also Palo Santo trees, shrubs and bushes.
Because of its formation and age, Santa Fe Island has many endemic species. The Barrington land iguana, the Santa Fe lizard and the rice rat are some of the endemic species you can spot on the Island. There are also many bird species you can see here, including swallow-tailed gulls, red-billed tropicbirds, finches, blue-footed boobies, Galapagos hawks and mockingbirds.
Barrington Bay is the only visitor site on the island, on the northeastern side, that has two trails you can follow. The short trail doesn't go far from the beach and offers ample possibility to view and photograph the Santa Fe cacti. Underneath the cacti, you can often see land iguanas, waiting for fruits to fall, which they enjoy eating. The longer trail is steeper and leads to the summit of the cliff from where you can admire the inland of Santa Fe. The access to the trails is often hindered by sea lions, that can be found in large numbers on the beach here. The bay's lagoon was a very visited anchoring point throughout the history and, with its turquoise water, it is considered one of the most beautiful coves in Galapagos. It's a perfect place to go snorkeling or kayaking on your trip here.
Costa Este, El Fondeador and La Encanada are diving sites near Santa Fe Island, where you can encounter reef fish, sea turtles, sea lions, rays, white-tip reef sharks and sometimes Galapagos sharks. Visibility is very good and the waters are calm, suitable for both beginners and experienced divers.
Due to its proximity to Santa Cruz Island, you can easily visit Santa Fe Island on your Galapagos islands cruise, just make sure it is included in your itinerary.
Santa Fe Fast Facts:
- Santa Fe Island has many endemic species, including the Santa Fe lizard, the Barrington land iguana and the rice rat.
- The Opuntia Echios pear cacti on the island are the largest in the archipelago.
- Santa Fe Island's origin is not volcanic, it is the result of an uplift.
Belted Kingfisher, Blue-Footed Booby, Brown Pelican, Darwin’s Finches, Galapagos Dove, Galapagos Green Turtle, Galapagos Hawk, Galapagos Land Iguana, Galapagos Lava Heron, Galapagos Lava Lizard, Galapagos Petrel, Galapagos Rice Rat, Galapagos Sea Lion, Galapagos Sting Rays