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Santa Fe Island


Galapagos snorkeling

Santa Fe covers 9.3 square miles and rises to 850 feet. Formed by submarine basaltic lava that rose from the ocean floor over four million years ago, Santa Fe Island keeps its treasures hidden; a walk along the beach will reveal little animal life beside a handful of playful sea lions. Still, exploring the island can be a great way to see the quieter, more elusive Galapagos critters.

One of the best-concealed island creatures, the Santa Fe land iguana, lives nowhere else in the world and, in fact, on no other island in the Galapagos. A sub-species of the famous endemic Galapagos land iguana, the Santa Fe variety is yellowish-green in color and can grow to over 1m in length.

Hide-and-seek champions with patience and time stand the best chance of spotting one of these devious creatures, which spend much of their time near prickly pear cacti waiting for their juicy fruits and pads to fall to the ground. Two short trails loop the island.

The first is a short 300m path that leads to a forest of giant Opuntia cacti; some of which are over 10m tall. A longer, rocky 1 ½ km trail climbs into the highland region.

The short but somewhat steep ascent is a bit strenuous but offers a better chance of seeing land iguanas and an impressive view of the island and shimmering ocean. The trail is also an excellent place to birdwatch for the dove and scout the snake and rice rat. Both trails are somewhat rocky, so bring sturdy shoes. Santa Fe features a sheltered cove in its northeastern bay. Sea lions, along with fishes, often join snorkelers.

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