Galapagos Santiago Island

santiago island in galapagos

Galapagos Santiago Island also known as San Salvador Island is a fascinating place to visit due to its past volcanic activity.

Its name in English is James Island and has an area of 585 Km2 which means that this is the fourth Island in size of this Archipelago.


Visitors love to visit James Island because it has some spectacular tourist sites. This Galapagos Island is located between Isabela and Santa Cruz Islands.

This Island offers a wide variety of seabirds, marine iguanas and fur seals. James bay is a black lava seashore that was also explored by Charles Darwin during his visit in 1835.

At Puerto Egas you will have a view of Sugar loaf volcano, from its crater was extracted salt during the 1920s and 1960s.

Santiago Island has two volcanoes. The first located on the northwest and the second volcano on the southeast end of the Island.

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You will be able to step on some strange lava formations that enhance this amazing Island.

You will make a wet landing to enter this Island. The main Galapagos Activities are Hiking, birdwatching, swimming and snorkeling.

Behind the beach of Puerto Egas you will walk through a tourist circular trail of approximately 2 km that leads to Sugar Loaf Volcano.

Be ready to take some pictures of the stunning surrounding landscape. It is a great place for birdwatching.

Wildlife in Santiago Island is abundant, you will see among others hundreds of lava lizards, marine iguanas, Galapagos Flamingos sally light-foot crabs are, Galapagos penguins, blue-footed boobies and Galapagos Hawks

Sites to Visit in Santiago Island

Puerto Egas

It is located to the West of Santiago Island and is also known as South James Bay. You will make a wet landing on a black sand beach and then a walk along the rocky coast line that will you show you a view of some of Galapagos' best tide pools.

The black lava towers and craters are filled with crystal-clear seawater.

Shortly after landing you will follow a trail that goes through a volcano crater from which Salt was extracted some decades ago. The trail follows the path once used by wagon trains to the crater cone.

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This hike is considered to be one of the hottest hikes in the islands, but the reward at the end of the walk is an incredible landscape.

There's another expedition you can make at Santiago Island. This one starts beyond the tide pools where visitors will meet with Galapagos Fur Seals and Galapagos Sea Lions. You will have a great opportunity to snorkel and swim with them.

Espumilla Beach

It is located north of Puerto Egas. This is gold-color sand beach and it is considered to be one of the most attractive spots in the Galapagos Islands.

Many visitors come to this place for birdwatching rather than just swimming.

Take a walk through the mangrove trees until you reach a lagoon that is usually inhabited by a group of Flamingos, White Cheeked Pintails and common Stilts.

Also Sea Turtles visit this mangrove forest to nest, so you must be careful not to step on one of these animals.

Along the trail you will see a variety of Galapagos Finches and Vermilion Fly Catchers. You will definitively love to swim and snorkel at this beautiful beach.

Sullivan Bay

This bay is located at the East of Santiago Island. The lava field with its fascinating shapes and textures is what visitors mostly like. The black lava flows here seem as if they just cooled of the day before.

The lava from Sullivan Bay is known as Panoehoe (Hawaiian for Rope). The thin lava molten material cools down after an eruption causing the surface materials to clasp creating the shape of a rope.

Panoehoe Lava is very common to the volcanoes of the Galapagos Islands. Take a look at the crystallized volcanic glass along the 2km trail around the bay and the tuff cones that were once rocky islands before the lava flows.

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Believe or not you will see signs of plant life on this lava fields like the Mollugo (carpetweed) and the Lava Cactus (Brachycereus).

As for wildlife, you will come across with some Black Marine Iguanas that had adapted well to this terrain.

The hike around Sullivan bay will take you around 1 hour and a half. After this walk, you will enjoy swimming in a beautiful coralline beach.

Buccaneer Cove

It is a historical place, because it was a favorite spot for pirates, sailors and whalers, who often found fresh water, salt, tortoises and other supplies during the 17th and 18th centuries.

It is located northwest of Santiago Island. There are no landing points at Buccaneer Cove, but you will be able to see from your boat the amazing Galapagos Landscapes of this location.

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

Luxury Galapagos Islands Tour

Bartolome Island

Isabela Island

Rabida Island

If you have questions about Santiago Island or if you'd like to request more information about our recommended Galapagos Land Tours to explore these stunning Islands, You can Contact us here

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