Santiago Island, Galapagos

Fur Seals and Flamingoes

Overview

Santiago Island has steep cliffs that make beautiful backdrops for photographs, as well as providing a perfect home for countless marine birds. 400 years ago pirates would stop here to resupply with fresh water, firewood and meat.

Originally named James Island, honouring the English King James II, Santiago was visited by Charles Darwin as his second port of call when he visited the Galapagos on the Beagle. There he found people living rough on the island catching tortoises for meat and oil. The island has a long history of being raided for its natural resources, including the building of a small salt mine which is now a visitor centre on the island. Santiago began to become more developed in the 1920s when commercial salt mining was attempted, as it was again in the 1960s when the small settlement of Puerto Egas was founded. At some point in the 1800s goats, pigs and donkeys were introduced to Santiago, and this caused massive problems for the native species and their habitats.

Santiago Island enjoys two excellent visitor sites at James Bay on the northwest coast and Sullivan Bay to the southeast. Just behind James Bay there is a wonderful seasonal lagoon which is home to flamingoes and several duck species. Visitors can often catch site of the Galapagos Fur Seals basking at Puerto Egas at the south end of James Bay. Santiago has smaller neighbour islands, some of which have visitor sites like Bartholomew. Others are excellent diving sites for those on approved diving tours.

Photos of Santiago Island

Fast Facts about Santiago Island

  • Galapagos Fur Seals enjoy basking off Puerto Egas
  • Pirates and buccaneers used Santiago to resupply with water, meat and firewood
  • Charles Darwin met tortoise catchers living here when he visited on HMS Beagle
  • Flamingos can be seen in the inland lagoon by James Bay

Possibile Activities on Santiago Island

Diving

Highlights

Chinese Hat

A lava-strewn landscape with wonderful marine life

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Possibile Activities

Hiking, Snorkeling

Buccaneer Cove

Historical pirate anchorage and seabird haven

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Possibile Activities

Snorkel, Panga ride, Kayaking

Egas Port

Two hiking trails to see Fur Seals and Hawks

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Possibile Activities

Hiking, Snorkeling

Espumilla Beach

Where turtles nest and flamingos gather

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Possibile Activities

Hiking, Snorkeling

Sullivan Bay

Recent lava flows and beginnings of plant life

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Possibile Activities

Hiking, Snorkeling

Albany Rock

Many crevices and pinnacles to explore

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Possibile Activities

Diving

James Bay

A large sheltered bay on the northwest of Santiago

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Possibile Activities

Hiking, Snorkeling

Salt Mine Volcano

A brine-filled cone rich with bird life

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Possibile Activities

Hiking

Cousin Rock

Famous site for advanced divers

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Possibile Activities

Diving

Map of Santiago Island

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All cruises to visit Santiago Island