Santa Fe Island
August 11, 2011 § 1 Comment
Approximately half way between the islands of Santa Cruz and San Cristobal lies the small island of Santa Fe. Shaped like a bean with a beautiful lagoon in the middle the island has a tilted appearance as it was created by geological uplift rather than from a central volcano.
For years Santa Fe has been a favorite on cruise itineraries. The lagoon provides an excellent place to snorkel with sea lions, colorful fish, small sharks and may be even a giant tuna that is frequently sited here all in a protected environment away from ocean surges. Currently many companies in Puerto Ayora are offering a day tour to Santa Fe while not allowing you to go ashore does allow you to come and snorkel in the bay.
As one of the oldest islands in the Galapagos Santa Fe is home to a mature and diverse combination of flora and fauna. The good anchorage in the bay and relatively flat nature of the island made it a frequent stop for early visitors coming ashore in search of food and water. As a result Santa Fe was one of the first islands to have its tortoise population become extinct approximately 200 years ago.
Today if you are on a Galapagos Cruise or permitted day tour you will also be able to visit the island of Santa Fe. Once ashore you will find a powdery beach that is home to a colony of sea lions. From the beach you a loop trail takes you up along the coast to the opuntia cactus cactus forest. The opuntias in Santa Fe are the largest and healthiest in Galapagos. The cactus have grown to be the size of full trees with trunks measuring over a foot in diameter.
Continuing along the trail you’ll reach the top of the hill where you a panoramic vista of the bay begins before heading back down to the beach. As you make your way along the trail a careful eye you can spot Galapagos Hawks, the endemic, larger and brownish colored Santa Fe Land Iguana, Galapagos Snakes, Galapagos Doves, Lava Lizards, both land and marine birds as well as possibly one of the only two remaining species of endemic Galapagos Rats.
The Galapagos National Park has just finished a 10 day monitoring of Santa Fe. With of 20 park rangers involved the island was divided into quadrants and the officials recorded all bird and reptile species present were recorded, as well as cactus and woody vegetation. The survey was used to count iguanas, hawks, and some species of finch (those with smaller populations).