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Espanola (Hood) Island – Galapagos

Espanola (Hood) Island – Galapagos

Espanola is the oldest of the Southern Islands and is southernmost in the archipelago. As a result of its remote location, a unique range of endemic species evolved here. Geographically it is a classic example of a shield volcano, created from a single caldera in the centre of the island. Over the years, as the island has moved further away from the hot spot over which Galapagos was formed, the volcano became extinct and erosion began to occur. As it is secluded form the other islands, wildlife on Espanola adapted to the island’s environment and natural resources. For example the Marine Iguanas on Espanola are the only ones that change colour during the breeding season. Normally they are black, but on Espanola are much more brightly coloured with a reddish tint, that then changes to more of a greenish shade during the mating season.
The Hood Mockingbird is also endemic to the island. These birds have no fear of humans and as a result frequently land on visitor’s heads and shoulders in search of food! The Hood Mockingbird is slightly larger than the other Mockingbirds found in Galapagos, its beak is longer and it has more of a curved shape, it is also the only carnivorous one of the species, feeding on a variety of insects, turtle hatchlings and sea lion placentas.
The star of the show however is the endemic Waved Albatross which can be seen during the breeding season from late March through to December. The islands steep cliffs serve as a perfect runway for these large birds as they take off to their ocean feeding grounds near the mainland of Ecuador and Peru, abandoning the island between January and March.

The island has 2 visitor sites:

Punta Suarez

This area on the north western tip of Espanola is arguably one of the best visitor sites in Galapagos. The quality and variety of wildlife is remarkable and because it is one of the most isolated islands in the archipelago, it has a high proportion of endemic fauna. A few steps inland from the landing site, groups of Marine Iguana’s endemic to the island, the most colourful found in Galapagos bask in the sun. Birds are literally everywhere, underfoot, on the trail, overhead, diving into the sea, you’ll see Galapagos Hawks, Nazca and Blue-footed Boobies, Red-billed Tropicbirds, Galapagos Doves, American Oystercatchers and of course the endemic Waved Albatross, who nest here from late March through December.

Activities: Walking

Conditions: Dry Landing

Fauna: Migrant, resident and endemic wildlife including brightly coloured Marine Iguanas, Sea Lions, Lava Lizards, Hood Mockingbirds, Swallow-tailed Gulls, Blue-footed Boobies, Nazca Boobies, Galapagos Hawks and the Waved Albatross

Gardner Bay

A long and beautiful white sand beach inhabited by sea lion colonies. One of the most photogenic spots in Galapagos, and a wonderful place to walk and watch the sea lions, or just lie down and relax and soak up the beautiful setting. Or you can swim or snorkel off the beach.

Activities: Walking, swimming, snorkelling

Conditions: Wet landing

Fauna: Sea Lion Colony, Mockingbirds, rocks off the coast offer snorkeeling sometimes with reef sharks, turtles and many tropical fish.

  • Espanola Hood Mockingbird
  • Galapagos Hawk Espanola Island
  • Galapagos sea lion
  • Gardner Bay Espanola Galapagos
  • Marine Iguana Galapagos Espanola
  • Waved Albatross Galapagos