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Santiago Island, Galapagos

Also known by it’s English name of James Island, Santiago Island was formed by two overlapping volcanos. The southwestern volcano erupted along a linear fissure, and is therefore significantly lower in altitude than its northwestern neighbor. The island features dramatic altitude changes as a result, and fascinating geographic features occupied by wildlife including Galapagos fur sea lions, Sally lightfoot crabs, sea turtles, and flamingos.

Egas Port – One of the most popular sites in the Galapagos, Egas Port on the western coast of Santiago Island features a long, black sand lava beach. Sally lightfoot crabs shuffle around the tidal pools, marine iguanas lounge in the sand, and Galapagos fur sea lions bask in the sun. The volcanic rock makes for interesting underground formations, not to mention marine life like reef sharks, rays, and turtles.

Buccaneer Cove – Steep, guano-covered volcanic cliffs drop dramatically to this protected cove on the western sands of Santiago Island. Pirates and buccaneers are said to have stopped here for years to stock up on fresh water and tortoise meat in the 17th and 18th century. The dark red sand, presided over by cliff-dwelling sea birds, makes for an interesting reflection on the island’s history and geology.

Espumilla Bay – Situated on the north end of Egas Port on Santiago Island’s western shores, Espumilla Bay is a sandy beach flanked by mangroves. Sally lightfoot crabs scuttle along the shorelines, careful to evade the predator hunting herons that pursue them from above. Sea turtles lay their eggs in the sand, and Darwin finches and flycatchers thrive in the dense mangrove swamps around the beach.