Santa Fe Island, also called Barrington Island is a small Island located in the center of the Galapagos Archipelago near Santa Cruz Island. Large numbers of sea lions can be found on its beaches.
The beauty of this Island is best appreciated from the trail which climbs the fault cliff overlooking the southern half of the bay.
This plateau is also the best place to find the large land iguanas (Conolophus Pallidus) that are endemic to Santa Fe Island.
The Santa Fe land iguana, lives nowhere else in the world and, in fact, on no other Galapagos Island. A sub-species of the famous endemic Galapagos land iguana, the Santa Fe variety is yellowish-green in color and can grow to over 1 mt in length.
Land iguanas in Santa Fe varies from its fellows on the other Islands by being bigger and having larger spines.
These land iguanas can be spotted more easily near prickly pear cacti waiting for their juicy fruits and pads to fall to the ground.
Often they can be seen beneath the imposing Opuntia cacti that are also particular to Santa Fe. The two beaches are sleeping grounds for sea lions, and snorkeling near the small Island by the entrance of the bay can also be rewarding.
Santa Fe has one of the most beautiful and sheltered coves in the Archipelago. Its turquoise lagoon is protected by a peninsula of tiny islets, forming an ideal anchorage.
Like North Seymour Island, Santa Fe has been uplifted seismically, and you can see underwater lava formations. Santa Fe was formed by submarine basaltic lava that rose from the ocean floor over four million years ago.
Galapagos Hawks are often easily approached, perched atop salt bushes, and an ascending trail leads toward the cliffs, where a dense thicket stands to the inland side.
The cliff side provides an expansive view of the ocean and you will also come across the giant prickly pear cactus.
There are Two Short Trails in Santa Fe Island:
The first is a short 300 mt path that leads to a forest of giant Opuntia cacti, some of which are over 10 mt tall. And the other is a longer, rocky 1,5 km trail that climbs into the highland region of the Island.
The short but somewhat steep ascent is a bit tough but offers a better chance of seeing land iguanas and an impressive view of the Island and shimmering ocean.
The trail is also an excellent place for birdwatching and also to find the shy Galapagos Snake. Both trails are somewhat rocky, so make sure you bring some resistant walking shoes.
The landing site in Santa Fe is a bay on the northeast coast which is home to sea lions. Good for snorkeling and you might even see some White Tipped Reef Sharks and the spotted eagle ray.
In the sandy cove nearby living sand dollars can be observed. Santa Fe Island itself is quite dry and dominated by giant opuntia cacti, scalesia and palo santo trees.
The Galapagos snake, mockingbirds and the Galapagos hawk can be also seen here.
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