History of the Galapagos Island

Learn about the History of the Galapagos Island and who was credited for its discovery in the Pacific Ocean.


This credit is given to a Spanish Bishop, who back in 1535, was navigating from Panama to Peru. His name, Fray Tomas de Berlanga.

It turns out that he was in charge of verifying the ethics of Spanish conquest in South America, led by Gonzalo Pizarro.

The King of Spain, Carlos V, commanded Tomas de Berlanga to sail down to Peru, and ethically share with Pizarro the King's views.

As the ship sailed along the west coast of South America, wind and ocean currents of this area gradually pushed the ship too far west, and once caught in troubled waters, and as they approached the islands, they were at the mercy of luck, chance, and the very weak winds of this time of the year.

Their sailing conditions had changed from bad to worse. Finally, in March 10th, 1535, they see an Island and slowly approach it. They had arrived to the Galapagos Islands.

Find Cheap Air Flights to the Galapagos Archipelago here

In a letter written to the King of Spain, Tomas de Berlanga narrates his arrival to Galapagos: (excerpt)

"The boat once anchored, we all went on land and some were given charge of making a well, and others of looking for water over the Island:

from the well there came out water saltier than that of the sea; on land they were not even able to find even a drop of water for two days, and with the thirst the people felt, they resorted to a leaf of some thistles like prickly pears, and because they were somewhat juicy, although not very tasty, we began to eat of them, and squeeze them to draw all the water from them, and drawn, it looked like slops of lye, and they drank it as if it were rose water."

But because of their isolation, the pirates and castaways made this Archipelago their refuge. Treasures were buried, and stories grew up around them.

By 1792, British whalers had reached the Galapagos and began to hunt for whales around them.

Recommended Galapagos Island Cruises

These practices continued until Ecuador took official possession of the Galapagos Archipelago in 1832.

This is the first official written description in the history of the Galapagos Island. This is how the Islands became known to the world.

Luck or not, good or bad, humans are part of this wonderful land. Let's celebrate next March 10th, as the 476th anniversary of the discovery of Galapagos.

Many visitors are marveled about the amazing wildlife and the beautiful Galapagos Landscapes of this Archipelago.

Recommended Reading

Ecuador & Galapagos (Insight Guides). Click to order from Amazon

Ecuador & Galapagos (Insight Guides)

With 250 photos and tons of great information, this is an essential addition to your pre-Ecuador and -Galapagos reading!

There are better guides if you are only interested in the islands, but for a combination trip taking in Ecuador as well, it's hard to beat.


Birds, Mammals, and Reptiles of the Galapagos Islands. Click to order from Amazon

Birds, Mammals, and Reptiles of the Galapagos Islands

Small enough to fit into your pocket, yet containing comprehensive information and pictures of all the species you will encounter in the islands, this book is a must-have for nature lovers.

Let's face it, Galapagos is largely about the wildlife. This book will NOT disappoint, and you'll have a great memento of your time with the seals, penguins and tortoises!


Galapagos: The Islands That Changed the World. Click to order from Amazon

Galapagos: The Islands That Changed the World

Definitely NOT a tourist's guide, but if you're like me, and find the history and geography of the islands irresistible, then this is a title you ought to invest in.

Stunningly illustrated, and painstakingly researched, those of you who have been there will be enchanted again -- and those of you who have not will begin planning your trip!


Moon Spotlight Galapagos. Click to order from Amazon

Moon Spotlight Galapagos Islands

If you're a seasoned Galapagos regular, then you will probably prefer something weightier.

But for first-timers looking for simple, down-to-earth advice on where to go, what to see and the best shopping and eating on the islands, this is the book for you.

Small, well-priced, and reliable!


Galapagos: Islands Born of Fire. Click to order from Amazon

Galapagos: Islands Born of Fire

The 10th anniversary edition of this photographer's tour of the Galapagos Islands is a stunning book, worthy of anybody's coffee table.

This is a perfect post-trip talking point -- a great way to remember what you've seen, and spread the word amongst your envious friends!


More About Galapagos

Best Galapagos Hotel

Galapagos Island Pictures

Galapagos Volcano Eruptions

If you have questions about the History of the Galapagos Island, You can post them on our Galapagos FAQ Page and if you'd like to request more information about our recommended Galapagos Land Tours to explore this Archipelago, You can Contact us here

Back from History of the Galapagos Island to Galapagos Homepage