Ecuador has one of the most extraordinary archipelagos in the world, the Galapagos Islands. Designated as a Natural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO, Galapagos presents several reasons for being considered a place of global importance: “the diversity and uniqueness of species it houses, its volcanic origin, its geological dynamics with permanent changes and variety of formations, Being considered a living laboratory of evolutionary processes still underway, added to the fact that it gave room for the development of a large number of both animal and plant species that do not exist anywhere else in the world” (Ministerio del Ambiente, Agua y Transición Ecológica, Galápagos celebra 36 años como Patrimonio Natural de la Humanidad, 2022).
In this magnificent and unique place in the world, several islands deserve to be visited, and one of them is Bartolomé Island, one of the youngest islands in the archipelago, which impresses with its lunar landscapes. For this reason, and with the desire for you to visit it, we have written this note to give you some recommendations on what to see and do on Bartolomé Island.
Cover photo by kuhnmi, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons.
Where is Bartolome Island?
Bartolomé Island is a volcanic islet located north of Santa Cruz Island, just off the east coast of Santiago Island. It is located just two hours of navigation from the Itabaca Channel, in the north of Santa Cruz Island. This island has an area of 0.75 miles², is one of the youngest islands in the Galapagos archipelago, and is not inhabited by humans.
Bartholomew Island is named after Sir Bartholomew James Sullivan, a close friend of Charles Darwin, who served in the British Navy and as a second lieutenant aboard HMS Beagle in 1835. This island is a great place to visit for a day trip and is often included as a stop on Galapagos Island cruises.
What is Bartolomé Island known for?
If you are wondering what is unique about Bartolomé Island, we must tell you that Bartolomé offers some of the most beautiful landscapes in the archipelago. This is an iconic site of the Galapagos Islands as it contains the famous Pinnacle, a needle-shaped rock formation located at the edge of the ocean, which has eroded over time, and which is considered the most representative image of the Galapagos archipelago.
It is worth visiting Bartolomé Island for its volcanic landscapes, which resemble lunar landscapes, making it an ideal place to learn more about the evolution of the islands. In addition, on the island, it is possible to visit beautiful white sand beaches and carry out activities like snorkeling to observe marine life. The island is also famous because there you can see Galapagos penguins.
If you are in the Galapagos Islands and still need to decide which islands to visit, we suggest you read our note about the ones we consider the best islands to visit in Galapagos. On it, we provide you with crucial information about these islands, their main natural attractions, their most characteristic species, and how you can get to each one.
How to get to Bartolomé Island?
First, we recommend you read our note if you want to know everything about how to get to Galapagos where we list which are the most used and comfortable alternatives that exist to get to the Galapagos, how many airports there are in the Galapagos Islands, which airlines fly to the Galapagos Islands, how to get to the Galapagos from Quito, how to get to the Galapagos from Guayaquil, what are the requirements that exist to enter the province of Galapagos, among other valuable aspects.
Now, once you are on the islands and since you are looking to get to Bartolomé Island, we will explain how to do it. Remember that there is no way to get to Bartolomé Island on your own. You should always go by boat and be accompanied by a guide.
There are two ways to get to Bartolomé Island:
First, you can get to it by cruise since most of these run aground on Bartolomé Island. However, you should ensure that a visit to this island is included in your cruise itinerary.
And if you have not chosen to visit the Galapagos Islands on a cruise, you can take one of the daily tours, which last a full day and take you from Santa Cruz Island to Bartolomé.
Bartolomé Island is only two hours away from the Itabaca Channel. We suggest you make your reservation for this daily tour in advance as Bartolomé is one of the most desired places by tourists who visit the Galapagos.
What to do on Bartolomé Island?
Next, we indicate the best activities if you wonder what to do on Bartolomé Island.
1. Appreciate the Pinnacle (Pinnacle Rock)
A trip to the Galapagos Islands is only complete if you have seen up close the famous Pinnacle of Bartolome Island, known in English as Pinnacle Rock.
It is a rock formation that looks like a triangular obelisk, but it is the remains of a vast volcanic cone on the ocean shore. The rock is part of a now primarily eroded volcanic dike that once connected Santiago Island with Bartolome Island.
The Pinnacle is the most representative landmark of Bartolomé Island and the Galapagos Islands, an image that is continually appreciated in advertising related to the famous archipelago. For this reason, on your trip to the Galapagos, you should not miss the opportunity to appreciate and photograph this geological formation of natural origin home to Bartolomé Island.
2. Hike to the top of the island’s volcano
On Bartolomé Island, through a path that is 795 meters long, it is possible to reach the top of the volcano, located at a height of 114 meters above sea level. This medium/low-difficulty walk along the aforementioned wooden staircase, which has 375 wooden steps, is an activity that lasts around 40 minutes. During this excursion, you can see cones in various stages of erosion and lava tunnels that form sleigh-like curves from the top. The landscape of the area is reminiscent of the surface of Mars.
Once at the top, you will find a viewpoint from where it is possible to enjoy spectacular views of the surrounding islands and get iconic photos of Bartolomé Island. There you can see the twin bays, the Pinnacle, and the underwater crater. In addition, from this point, it is possible to see Santiago Island, which is very close, and the famous Sullivan Bay.
3. Sunbathe and relax on its white sand beach
Another of the things that we recommend doing on Bartolomé Island is getting to know its beaches. In Bartolomé, there are three beaches: Playa Dorada, Playa Norte, and Playa Sur. From these beaches, it is possible to admire this island’s unique vegetation, consisting of mangroves and the sand flower or tiquilia.
Visitors arrive at the north beach adjacent to Pinnacle Rock. Swimming is allowed at the north beach, one of the smaller green turtle nesting beaches in the archipelago (nesting season is from January to March). Visitors can swim with colorful fish, sea lions, and Galapagos penguins, as well as swim and snorkel around the Pinnacle. A short path through the vegetation takes the visitor to the south beach, where swimming is prohibited.
4. Snorkel and observe the marine fauna
On Bartolomé Island, it is also possible to do surface diving (snorkeling) or swimming. Thanks to the abundance of rocks and underwater formations, the area is perfect for enjoying Galapagos penguins, sharks, rays, starfish, flounder, and a wide variety of tropical fish.
5. Observe the Galapagos penguins and other seabirds
On Bartolomé Island, it is possible to do bird watching. You will be able to enjoy the presence of the Galapagos penguins, known by their scientific name of Spheniscus. This animal is characterized by its shiny black plumage and small size, measuring around 53 centimeters. These penguins are very pleasant, small, and friendly and gather in large colonies with their species and with others. Another species found on the islet is the Galapagos falcon, an endemic specie of the archipelago.
Recommended reading: Things to do in Galapagos that you cannot miss.
What animals are found on Bartolome Island?
If you are still wondering what to see on Bartolomé Island, and as we have already mentioned, on the island, you will be able to find the famous Galapagos penguins, the Galapagos hawk, sea turtles, reef sharks, manta rays, and a wide variety of tropical fish.
Tips for visiting Bartolomé Island
Here are some tips for visiting Bartolomé Island. You can visit the islands in any month of the year. However, we recommend visiting this iconic island in the archipelago during the hot season. The hot season in the Galapagos goes from December to May and early June, and this is the best time to visit Bartolomé Island. The weather is more stable during this time, and there is less chance of rain. It is an excellent time to observe species on land, and, in addition, it is the time for the mating and nesting of Galapagos tortoises and iguanas. In our note: Best time to visit Galapagos, you will find all the necessary information to define the dates of your trip to this impressive archipelago.
Likewise, we recommend that you be prepared for any event during your visit to Bartolomé Island. Remember to take sunscreen, a hat, sunglasses, and a raincoat with you (the latter depends on the season you visit the Galapagos Islands), and do not forget your hiking shoes under any circumstances, as you will have to walk.
Finally, it is essential that during your visit, you are always respectful of wildlife. Bartolome Island is home to a variety of wildlife, so you should not touch or feed the animals, while keeping a safe distance from them is important. Remember that distancing allows species to be protected.
If you are looking to live a great adventure in the Galapagos Islands, and regardless of how you decide to get to know the renowned islands, during your visit to the archipelago, you must necessarily visit Bartolomé Island. Although small, the island offers beautiful natural landscapes, and you will find the emblematic Pinnacle (Pinnacle Rock). In addition, on Bartolomé Island, you will be able to see volcanic landscapes and a great variety of marine and terrestrial fauna at all times, while you are in the boat, snorkeling, or on the beach.
Now that you know what to do on Bartolomé Island and with the desire for you to travel to this unique island and the incomparable archipelago of the Galapagos, we want to remind you that we can provide you with continuous advice and support for planning your trip. Do not hesitate to contact us, and for more information, check out this unique selection of the best Galapagos tours operated by our partner Viator (Tripadvisor).