The Galápagos Islands are a haven for animal species of all types – but what can you spot and where? Vienna Bruce gives us the lowdown


The Galápagos Islands, located in the Pacific Ocean, off the west coast of Ecuador are famous for their diversity of animals and plants. Home to 11 species of giant tortoises, three large lizards and 85 different species of birds, including the Galápagos penguin, not to mention the abundance of marine life, it’s no wonder Charles Darwin spent six weeks here, studying the flora and fauna of the archipelago. Our wildlife holidays in the Galapagos islands present a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to you and your loved ones.

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San Cristobal Island

One of two airports in the Galápagos is found on San Cristobal, and it will most likely be the launch point for your own adventure. The island is inhabited, but is also home to shore birds, Darwin finches, San Cristobal mockingbirds and the Breeding Centre for Giant Tortoises. On arrival, the first thing you will spot are sea lions. These creatures are found everywhere throughout the islands, so although I don’t mention them again, trust me, they’re there!


Known as ‘Bird Island,’ a visit to Genovesa is great for an opportunity to witness some of the Galapagos’ best birdlife. You’ll likely spot great frigatebirds, brown pelicans, red-footed boobies, Nazca boobies, short-eared owls, and Darwin finches. If you’re snorkelling or diving, be on the lookout for hammerhead sharks, which tend to frequent these waters too.

North Seymour

North Seymour is one of the smaller islands and a great place to sight marine birds. You can expect two species of frigate birds, Galápagos land iguanas, swallow-tailed gulls, brown pelicans, blue-footed boobies, Darwin finches, and, if you are lucky, the Galápagos penguin. Go for a swim and you might spot a giant manta ray, elegantly swimming past.


Fernandina is the youngest island in the Galápagos, however, it still holds a wealth of wildlife. The waters are colder here so you are almost guaranteed to spot the Galápagos penguin. Marine Iguanas, frigatebirds, blue-footed boobies and flightless cormorants call Fernandina home too.


The largest land mass in the Galápagos, what you will see on Isabela Island is largely dependent on where you are. Highlights include the Galápagos penguin, flightless cormorants, flamingos, Galapagos doves, pintail ducks, Galápagos hawks, red-billed tropic birds, herons and more. The waters are home to sea turtles and white-tip Reef sharks, plus 450 different species of fish.

Santa Cruz Island

The most populated island in the Galápagos with approximately 15,000 residents, Santa Cruz also holds one of the world’s most precious reptiles – the Galapagos giant tortoise. Once on the brink of extinction, these magnificent creatures are truly incredible. A drive inland takes you to the Montemar Tortoise Reserve where you can discover the turtles up close and learn more about why they are so special.

Santa Fe Island

Although known for the Opuntia Cactus Forest, the small island of Santa Fe is teaming with wildlife. Expect to encounter the Galápagos mockingbird, Santa Fe Island iguanas, blue-footed boobies and Darwin finches. The ocean is a snorkel-lovers paradise with a mix of sea turtles, white-tip reef sharks and stingrays – oh, and don’t be surprised if a friendly sea lion starts following you as you snorkel along the coast!


One of the most southern islands in the Galápagos, Espanola is known for its white-sand beaches and turquoise waters. This is where the waved albatross resides, alongside marine iguanas and Nazca boobies. Snorkel a little deeper and you might find yourself swimming with sea turtles, sharks and octopus.

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Georgina Leith
Aisha Gross
Auriole Potter

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