South Plaza Island is one of the tiniest islands in the Galapagos archipelago, at just 0.05 square miles. The island is unpopulated and it is located east of Santa Cruz Island. Its origin is not volcanic, but the result of the sea floor's uplift. It was named in honour of General Leonidas Plaza, one of Ecuador's former presidents.
The island is an amazing destination, famous for being the archipelago's wonderland of colors, due to its fascinating flora. The Galapagos carpetweed, called Sesuvium, covers the ground and these plants change colour depending on the season. They are bright red, violet and yellow during the dry season, from June to January and a rich green during the rainy season, from February to May. Together with the turquoise water, the white rocks, the shoreline's black lava, the orange Sally Lightfoot crabs and the green cacti, the scenery becomes one of the most beautiful you can ever see on your trip.
South Plaza Island is home to the biggest population of land iguanas, that are the smallest in size compared to other specimens in Galapagos. You can spot them in the impressive forest of Cactus Opuntia, that is their main source of food during the dry season. South Plaza Island is the only place on your Galapagos islands cruise where you'll be able to see hybrid iguanas, a cross-breed between a marine and a land iguana. You can recognize them by their grey or black color, with the crest of a land iguana, but the face and tail of a marine iguana.
You start your tour on the northern coast of the island, where a colony of sea lions will be there to greet you. There are more than a 1000 on South Plaza. The 2-hour trail leads you through the cactus forest then upward to the cliffs, where you'll see some amazing views, as you'll be standing 75 feet above the sea with waves breaking below. It is a also an amazing spot for birdwatching and you'll spot here swallow-tailed gulls, Nazca boobies, brown pelicans, finches, blue-footed boobies and red-billed tropicbirds. There's also the chance to see Galapagos Hawks.
South Plaza Island is also a great site on your cruise for snorkeling, with a variety of marine life swimming around the coral reefs. Colorful tropical fish, sea lions, sea turtles, reef sharks and even manta rays can be encountered here.
South Plaza Fast Facts:
- South Plaza Island is the only place in the world where you can find hybrid iguanas.
- The Galapagos carpetweed or Sesuvium covering the island changes colors depending on the season.
- South Plaza Island is home to the largest population of land iguanas, the smalles specimens in size.
Blue-Footed Booby, Brown Pelican, Darwin’s Finches, Galapagos Dove, Galapagos Frigatebirds, Galapagos Green Turtle, Galapagos Land Iguana, Galapagos Lava Heron, Galapagos Lava Lizard, Galapagos Marine Iguana, Galapagos Petrel, Galapagos Sea Lion, Galapagos Shearwater, Galapagos Sting Rays, Great Blue Heron, Nazca Booby, Red-Billed Tropicbird, Swallow-Tailed Gull