Santa Fe Island in Galapagos

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.

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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.

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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.

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!


If you have questions about the Santa Fe Island or if you'd like to request more information about our recommended Galapagos Land Tours to visit this Archipelago, You can Contact us here

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