Española (Hood)

There is a history on Española of highly successful programmes to restore the population of the Hood giant tortoise rescued from the brink of extinction and the opuntia cactus on which the tortoises feed, but which were at one time lost to grazing goats.

Española is special for a number of reasons, but it is a particularly important Galapagos cruise stop from March to December, as it plays host to nearly all of the world’s giant waved albatross population that come here to breed.

Visitors’ arrival at Punta Suárez is greeted by dozens of sea lions relaxing on the beach and the spectacularly coloured marine iguanas that bask in the sun to regain their optimum body temperature. Their reds, greens, pinks and turquoise, are perhaps only matched by the equally colourful scarlet and blue of the plentiful sally lightfoot crabs that scuttle about the rocks and pools. The trail continues amidst superb scenery to a dramatic blowhole that, depending on the tide, shoots spray some 25 metres up into the air.

The second landing point on Española is Gardner Bay, which has one of the longest beaches in the Galapagos. The 2 kilometres of white coral sand meeting with turquoise coloured sea is an enticing place on which to relax and simply watch the local inhabitants pass by. Those drawn to the water will be rewarded by an opportunity to swim with the ever-playful juvenile sea lions.

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