The Galapagos Islands were formed by volcanic activity, therefore not all the islands have the same age. The oldest islands, Española and San Cristobal, can be found on the eastern part of the archipelago. The youngest is Fernandina, on the western part of the archipelago. Even though it is not commonly visited, due to its distance from the main arrival hubs, Fernandina is home to the Galapagos’ most active volcano and some unique wildlife, exclusive to the northwestern islands (which are visited during our Northern Islands Itinerary). Fulfill your dream of visiting Fernandina on Yacht Isabela II.
How Fernandina Came To Be
A hot spot, just like the one that formed the Hawaiian archipelago, is what formed the Galapagos Islands. A hot spot is a hole in a thin part of the Earth’s crust through which magma is pushed out when it becomes too pressurized. As the tectonic plates shift and magma cools, rock formations, such as cone-shaped volcanoes, start to appear, and islands are created. The geological age of the islands has helped scientists track the west-to-east tectonic plate movement.
Fernandina, being the youngest and most active island, has had 24 recorded eruptions since 1813, and is hence, the least affected by human presence. Punta Espinoza is the only site on the island that can be visited, but it is not to be missed!
Because of its location on the archipelago, the only way to visit this unique island is on a Galapagos cruise ship. When visiting Fernandina Island, visitors will stop at Punta Espinoza, where they will be able to choose from two hiking options: a short walk across the peninsula, where visitors will have many opportunities to see some amazing wildlife, or a longer but quite feasible hike, to see two types of lava flows produced by the island’s volcanic eruptions.
In spite of the arid and rugged terrain, vegetation has found a way to grow in every nook and crevice, and Fernandina is the perfect place to appreciate the beginnings of life formation on Earth. The lava cactus is a beautiful example of how nature adapted to survive in these harsh conditions, but it is one of the few vegetative species on land. For this reason, Fernandina’s unique fauna, like flightless cormorants, Galapagos penguins, Galapagos hawks, Galapagos sea lions, marine iguanas and Galapagos racer snakes feed mainly on marine life.
Visiting Fernandina on Yacht Isabela II
Fernandina is a year-round destination, like all of the islands, but deciding on when to visit will depend on what you are most interested in seeing. During the dry season in the Galapagos, from June to November, you will have a better chance of seeing dolphins and whales. Seabirds come to nest and there is the possibility of seeing baby chicks. Male marine iguanas become quite territorial in December and January, so this time of year could show visitors some potentially interesting animal interactions.
During the hot season in Galapagos, from December to May, there are better opportunities for viewing Galapagos penguins and sea turtles while snorkelling. The season for Galapagos sea lion pupping happens in late August, September, and October.
The Galapagos Islands are full of life all year long, so no matter when you decide to come, amazing experiences will be waiting for you on board Yacht Isabela II!