Travel Guide to Fernandina, Galapagos Islands

April 2019

 

Fernandina is the youngest and third largest island of the Galapagos Islands. It is the westernmost island of the archipelago and therefore very remote. The island is unique even for Galapagos standards mainly for two reasons. First, it is the island that is most likely to have a volcanic eruption, the last one took place in September 2017. Second, it is referred to as a land without time, as there are no introduced species, making it one of the most untouched island ecosystems.

 

Fernandina offers an incredible scenery with its volcano and the moon-like landscape as well as lots of wildlife to be discovered. The island's inhabitants include penguins, sea lions, cormorants, marine iguanas and crabs.

How to get there?

Fernandina is a very remote, uninhabited island and can only be reached on a cruise. In addition, the island is not often visited by smaller boats. Only a handful of cruise ships take the route, as the island can only be reached after a long passage (over 200 km) from Santa Cruz. A (large) cruise ship on the western route usually passes Fernandina. Since there is no speedboat that connects Isabela and Fernandina, a day trip is not possible.

 

We were on board of Santa Cruz II, our cruise ship, and had left Santa Cruz the evening before. In the morning we snorkeled in Punta Vicente Roca and in the afternoon we explored Punta Espinoza, the only landing site on Fernandina in the northeast of the island. We got into a smaller boat, also called panga, and went to the coast. There is a pier, so this is a dry landing, which means your feet won't get wet. When we arrived we were greeted by a manta ray in the water.

Discovering this moon-like scenery

We got off the boat and followed a 750 meter path that led us over recently formed lava fields. At first we saw nothing but rocky lava stones, only to realize that hundreds and hundreds of marine iguanas relaxed on the stones in the sunshine. There are said to be up to 100.000 marine iguanas on Fernandina. These dragon-like creatures look dangerous but are harmless. That is, if you don't step on them, of course.

 

We went a little further and passed a mangrove forest. Our guide explained that mangroves can filter salt water and turn it into fresh water. Besides the mangroves, there is little vegetation. Only a few small cactus trees grow on the lava flows.

 

The scenery looks surreal and moon-like and is dominated by the volcano La Cumbre and its lava fields that extend into the ocean. La Cumbre is the most active volcano in the Galapagos Islands and it last erupted in September 2017.

Admiring all the playful and cute sea lions

 

We continued on our way and literally stopped every minute because we saw another cute sea lion on the beach, in the water or on the lava stones. You can see them everywhere, sunbathing, running around or swimming in the sea. Our group went on and we fell back a few times because it was so fascinating to watch the sea lions. Sometimes it even seemed like they were putting on a show for the tourists, but for the most part they paid little attention to us. In addition to the sea lions, we also saw many colorful crabs on a lava flow right by the sea.

 

After 1,5 hours we had to return to our panga and headed back to our cruise ship, but we could have stayed there for hours. It is really impressive to see the wildlife and nature of Fernandina.

 

LOGISTICS

Departure

Cruise ship, Fernandina

Duration & Distance

1,5 hours

1 km hiking

Cost

No extra charge

Equipment

Water

Camera (optional)