Española Island

Española is the nesting place of the albatross, hawks, marine turtles, masqued boobies, marine iguanas, sharks, sea lions, swallow-tailed gulls, finches.

Espanola Island is also known as Hood Island. It sits at the southernmost point of the archipelago. Yet, it is one of the most popular islands to be visited because of the wide variety of animals found on the island. It is home to the only colony of waved albatross on the Galapagos Islands. The island is flat with no visible volcano.

Española's remote location helped make it a unique jewel with a large Number of endemic creatures. Secluded from the other islands, wildlife on Española adapted to the island's environment and natural resources. The subspecies of Marine iguana from Española are the only ones that change color during breeding season.

Normally, marine iguanas are black in color, a camouflage, making it difficult for predators to differentiate between the iguanas and the black lava rocks where they live. On Española adult marine iguanas are brightly colored with a reddish tint except during mating season when their color changes to more of a greenish shade.

The Hood Mockingbird is also endemic to the island. These brazen birds have no fear of man and frequently land on visitors heads and shoulders searching for food. The Hood Mockingbird is slightly larger than other mockingbirds found in the Galapagos; its beak is longer and has a more curved shape. The Hood Mockingbird is the only carnivorous one of the species feeding on a variety of insects, turtle hatchlings and sea lion placentas.



Punta Suarez is the best visitor site on Hood Island. Along the lava trail, blue-footed boobies lay their eggs and iguanas sunbathe on the rocks. This rocky strip of land is home to the most varied and most impressive colonies of sea birds in all of the Galapagos Islands. Those brave enough to walk over the slippery turf will encounter lazy sea lions, with Hood mockingbirds and red-billed tropicbirds flying overhead.

Despite the bulk of the island being flat, in Punta Suarez, which is on the western tip of the island, there are 30-meter high cliffs that are inhabited by even more species of birds. Here there is a blow hole of some fame. Depending on the intensity, the water spouts can reach between 15 and 30 meters (50 to 75 feet) into the air.

Something about Hood Island and Punta Suarez appeals to the animals because they are larger here than anywhere else on the islands. The waved albatross is the largest bird on the Galapagos Islands. The marine iguanas are among the largest in the Galapagos Islands, as well as the most colorful. The lava lizards are larger than average, too.

Landing: wet or dry landing
Highlights: mating or nesting albatross, marine iguanas, and blue footed boobies, Galapagos Hawk sightings
Conditions: the rocky, uneven trail can be one of the more difficult in the islands.
Notes: bring water, good hiking shoes be careful not to walk off trail and disturb nests.



Gardner Bay is on the eastern side of Hood Island. With its white sandy beaches, it is the islands prime location for swimming and snorkeling. In fact, it is arguably the most beautiful beach on all of the islands. The best snorkeling is off of Tortuga Rock. Those who wish to snorkel may see turtles and sharks amongst the beautiful fish.

There is a trail that runs from Gardner Bay and Punta Suarez. Along the path are a Number of nesting sites, including the nests for nearly every waved albatross in the world.

Landing: wet landing
Highlights: open area, sea lion colonies, most inquisitive mockingbirds in Galapagos
Conditions: long powdery white sand beach
Notes: bring plenty of water and sunscreen. Be cautious not to disturb sea turtle nests.



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