Darwin's Arch Galapagos

7 Galapagos Places Named for Charles Darwin

Every place you go in the Galapagos Islands, you’ll bump into Charles Darwin. His name adorns businesses and avenues, and his likeness gazes at tourists strolling along the streets and paths.

But it isn’t just man-made Darwin structures you’ll see in these islands. Some geographic features he had visited are also named for him.

Here are 7 Darwinian places to go in search of while you are in the Galapagos Islands.

1. Monuments to Mr. Darwin

You’ll be able to pose for a photo with Charles Darwin in Puerto Baquerizo Moreno (San Cristóbal Island) and especially in Puerto Ayora (Santa Cruz Island), where you’ll have several opportunities: on Avenida Charles Darwin, in front of the Red Mangrove Inn, is not only a bust of Darwin, but just a few steps away, an impressive blue arch studded with sculptures of land iguana, giant tortoise and other endemic Galapagos species. Crowning the top of the span is Mr. Darwin’s visage as an old man. Other opportunities will arise, so keep your eyes open!

2. Avenida Charles Darwin – Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz Island

Avenida Charles Darwin is Puerto Ayora’s main seafront avenue that hugs Academy Bay. It begins in downtown at the docks (where you can catch a water taxi across the bay or the local ferry service to neighbouring islands). Just a few steps away is a city park with courts, a popular place to join a volleyball game in the evening. The avenue passes a multitude of restaurants, nightclubs, hotels and souvenir stands (and a few Darwin monuments) before becoming a narrow, tree-lined lane. After the Galapagos National Park office, the road ends at the Charles Darwin Research Station.

3. Charles Darwin Research Station – Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz Island

Since 1964, the Charles Darwin Research Station – run by the international Charles Darwin Foundation, has hosted scientists from around the country and the world in researching about and preserving the Galapagos Islands’ unique environment. The station has a new museum where you can learn more about the Galapagos. Here, you can snap your photo with the life-size statue of a young Charles Darwin created by Ecuadorian sculptor Patricio Ruales.

4. Darwin Bay – Genovesa Island

On Genovesa Island (a.k.a. Tower Island) is Darwin Bay. The landing spot is a sandy beach with trails through the mangroves. This is an excellent place to see all three types of boobies (Blue-footed and Red-footed and Nazca), Swallow-tailed Gulls and Frigatebirds. It is also possible to spot the beautiful Red-billed Tropicbird here.

5. Darwin’s Toilet – Santiago Island

Darwin’s Toilet is a national rock formation at Puerto Egas. This rocky pool is fed by underground channels that with the wash of the waves, fills and empties. Puerto Egas is one of the few places where you may see the Galapagos Fur Sea Lion. It is also known for marine iguanas, Galapagos sea lions, Darwin’s Finches and a multitude of sea and shore birds.

6. Volcán Darwin – Isabela Island

Overshadowing Tagus Cove, a popular stop on some Galapagos Island cruises, is Volcán Darwin. This is a good place to observe Galápagos Penguins and Flightless Cormorants. At Tagus Cove is another point named for the famous naturalist: Darwin Lake. This volcano is home to one of the giant tortoise species named for Darwin: the Volcán Darwin Galapagos Tortoise (Chelonoidis microphyes). Also at the foot of Volcán Darwin is Tortuga Negra Point, home to the severely endangered Mangrove Finch.

7. Darwin Island

Darwin Island is one of the furthest islands of the Galapagos archipelago. It and neighboring Wolf Island are famed for their excellent scuba diving featuring a plentitude of sharks. In March 2016, the Ecuadorian government declared a 38,000 square-kilometer (15,000-square mile) reserve to protect the seas around these two islands. On Darwin Island is the natural rock formation, Darwin’s Arch, a superb dive site.

And elsewhere on Planet Earth

Places named for Charles Darwin aren’t just limited to the Galapagos Islands. Wherever he roamed during HMS Beagle’s five year mission, he left a trail of towns, bays and plains that bear his name.

Elsewhere in South America are the Miradores de Darwin (a strange, barren landscape near Puerto Deseada, Argentina), Darwin village (Falkland Islands), Cordillera Darwin and Mount Darwin (Tierra del Fuego, Chile), Darwin Sound (Tierra del Fuego) and Darwin Island (between Antarctica and South America).

In Australia are Charles Darwin National Park, Charles Darwin University, the town of Darwin in the Northern Territory and Mount Darwin in Tasmania. Places in Canada, the United States and England also bear his name.
Have you visited any of these places? Do you know any others we haven’t included? Please let us know in the comments below.


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Photo credit: Dag Peak

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