Galapagos Spotlight: Santa Fe Island

Santa Fe is one of the Galapagos’ oldest islands: underwater rock formations here date back a rather impressive 3.9 million years. It’s most famous for the Santa Fe Land Iguana, which is endemic to the island. Santa Fe is also known for its enormous prickly pear cacti. 

Thanks to its convenient location just south-east of the Galapagos’ main island, Santa Cruz, Santa Fe is a popular stop: the boat ride from Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz takes just 45 minutes.

The island is uninhabited and can only be visited with an official guide. Many cruises include Santa Fe on their itinerary, while several operators in Puerto Ayora offer regular day trips which include lunch and plenty of snorkeling and hiking opportunities.


  • Visitors arrive at Barrington Bay, a beautiful beach which has great snorkeling: there are fish of all colors, shapes and sizes here, among them parrot fish and trumpet fish. Spotted turtles, sea lions and rays also pass by looking for attention and providing excellent photographic opportunities. Galapagos hawks can also be observed at the beach, as they come here to feed
  • Two hiking trails lead from the beach – one leads to a scenic viewpoint with wonderful views of the island
  • The second trail winds along an inward path to the Opuntia (or prickly pear) cactus forest. This unmissable sight is a spectacular forest of giant cacti, some of which reach six meters (20 feet) tall
  • As you hike, look out for the Santa Fe Land Iguana. Endemic to this small island, the Santa Fe Land Iguana differs from the Galapagos Land Iguana in color: it’s a paler yellow. It also has a longer snout and more pronounced spines on its back. 80% of the iguana’s diet comes from the prickly pear cactus that the island is known for

What to bring:

  • Plenty of sun cream
  • A sun hat
  • Comfortable shoes that are suitable for walking on rocks. A pair of sandals is also recommended
  • Swimming and snorkeling gear (snorkeling equipment may be included in your cruise or day trip)
  • Drinking water and snacks (lunch is generally provided on a day trip or cruise)

Click here to plan a trip to Santa Fe.

Galapagos Travel Planner - FREE Download

Photo credit: Flickr/Joanne Goldby

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