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Snorkelling San Cristobal, Galapagos Islands

Galapagos Southern & Eastern Islands

November 13, 2020

Trying to work out where you should go in the Galapagos Islands can be overwhelming. After all, how do you know which are the best islands to visit? But as we discussed in our post on the Central & Northern Islands – unless you have a really specific wildlife event you want to see, there is no such thing as a ‘best’ island to visit. Just like there isn’t a best time to visit! Just different highlights at different times of the year.

In fact, every single one of the Galapagos Islands reveal something unique. So, the more islands you visit, the more you will appreciate the extraordinary diversity the Galapagos are renowned for. But visiting all the main islands will take you at least 2 weeks. And not everyone has that kind of time (or money!).

In this article you’ll find an overview of the southern and eastern islands in the Galapagos so you can work out if these are the ones you most want to visit.

San Cristobal

San Cristobal is the only other island in the archipelago with an airport (Baltra being the other). Therefore, most cruises of the southern and eastern islands will either start or end here. During your time on San Cristobal you will almost certainly visit Kicker Rock. This unique rock formation is excellent for kayaking and scuba diving. And Lobos Island (Sea Lion Island) is, as the name suggests, one of the best places in the Galapagos for snorkelling with these playful creatures.

Did you know that this is one of the best islands to visit if you are short on time? Because 7 of the Big 15 can be found here! Yes, the Galapagos sea lion, frigatebird (great and magnificent), marine iguana, red-footed booby, blue-footed booby, Nazca booby and (best of all) the Galapagos giant tortoise all live on San Cristobal.

San Cristobal Island Galapagos
Wildlife encounter on San Cristobal, Galapagos Islands

Floreana

Floreana teems with human history, adding another element to your Galapagos cruise. From Post Office Bay to Baroness Viewpoint, stories abound across the island. But of course, it is the wildlife that you are here to see! And what an abundance there is. Most guides agree that Devil’s Crown is the best snorkelling site in all the Galapagos – with a huge variety of tropical fish, sharks and rays. And then there’s the flamingos at Cormorant Bay. This is one of the largest colonies in the archipelago and a wonderful sight to behold.

Pirate's Cave, Floreana, Galapagos Islands
Pirate’s Cave, Floreana, Galapagos Islands

Española

The southernmost island of the Galapagos holds the distinction of being the only place where you can see Waved Albatross perform their unique courtship dance. If you are keen to see these intricate rituals, the best months to visit are from September to November. And if the Waved Albatross is high on your list of species to see – make sure you don’t travel from January to March, as this is when they take to the air for migration.

Other highlights of Española include marine iguanas, mockingbirds and the sea lion nursery at Gardner Bay.

Waved Albatross, Espanola, Galapagos Islands
Waved Albatross, Española, Galapagos Islands

Isabela

Although Isabela is located in the west of the Galapagos, it is often included in southern itineraries due to the large number of landing sites on the south coast. Isabela is the largest island in the Galapagos and was formed by the joining of 5 volcanoes. And the largest of these, Sierra Negra, provides fantastic hiking opportunities.

Marine highlights include white-tipped reef sharks, Galapagos penguins, marine turtles and sea lions. While on land, flamingos, land iguanas and two sub-species of Galapagos Tortoise can be found.

HIking Sierra Negra, Isabela, Galapagos Islands
Hiking Sierra Negra Volcano, Isabela, Galapagos Islands

Which Galapagos Islands do you want to visit? Let our Travel Specialists know where you would like to go in the Galapagos and we will help find a cruise or island hopping itinerary to match!