Marine iguanas on Fernandina Island.
Cover photo by ann.page.ph and Instagram.
Fernandina Island, in the Galapagos Islands, is an impressive and unique place in terms of biodiversity and natural landscapes. On this island, the westernmost of the archipelago and the youngest of the Galapagos islands, there is the possibility of encountering lava flows that are a sign of the volcanic activity that characterizes the island and a wide variety of wildlife. Hence, if you are looking for a perfect place to learn about the volcanic activity of the islands, a place of pristine landscapes and lots of animal life, Fernandina Island is the ideal place to visit during your stay in the Galapagos Islands. If you are eager to get to know this well-known island of the archipelago, here are some recommendations on what to see and what to do on Fernandina Island.
Where is Fernandina Island?
Fernandina is an island belonging to Ecuador, located in the Galapagos archipelago. This is the westernmost island of the archipelago and is located on the west side of Isabela Island. It has an area of 642 km² (247.9 sq mi), a maximum elevation of 1,494 meters (4,842 ft), and no human population.
It should be noted that the island was named in honor of the Spanish King Fernando II of Aragon, called “el Católico”, who sponsored the voyages of Christopher Columbus. Fernandina Island is known in English as Narborough, a name given in honor of Sir John Narborough.
What is Fernandina Island known for?
If you are wondering what is unique about Fernandina Island, we must start by saying that Fernandina Island is the third largest in the archipelago, only surpassed in size by Isabela Island and Santa Cruz Island. Fernandina is also the westernmost island in the archipelago and the youngest of the Galapagos islands.
Another characteristic of Fernandina Island is that none of the animals on the island have been introduced, which means that they all arrived on their own without the help of humans, so you will only find endemic species here. On the island, you will find a species as striking and interesting as the flightless cormorant and one of the largest colonies of iguanas in the Galapagos Islands.
On this island is one of the most active volcanoes in the world, the La Cumbre volcano. This fact makes Fernandina an ideal place to learn about volcanic activity. It is worth visiting Fernandina Island and getting to know the vast lava fields created there due to the eruptions of the aforementioned volcano.
How to get to Fernandina Island?
First, we recommend you read our note if you want to know everything about how to get to Galapagos. In it, we indicate the most used and comfortable alternatives that exist to reach the Galapagos, among many other aspects that will be useful to define the details of your trip to this fantastic and unique archipelago in the world.
Due to its remote location, Fernandina Island is the most pristine island in the Galapagos and one of the least visited islands in the archipelago. You can only access this island through a tour with an authorized guide. Punta Espinoza, on Fernandina Island, is the only place where visitors are allowed. Most of the people who arrive on this island are those who travel through the Galapagos archipelago on a cruise, since in some of them, Fernandina Island is part of their journey. Therefore, you must ensure that a visit to this island is included in your cruise itinerary.
What to do on Fernandina Island?
These are some of the things you can do on Fernandina Island in the Galapagos:
1. Explore the marine fauna
Fernandina is known for its rich marine life. Usually, the cruises that take you to Fernandina allow you to snorkel in its waters. The crystal clear waters will allow you to have an unforgettable experience. So you can admire the diversity of marine species that inhabit there, such as sea turtles, sharks, rays, sea lions, and a wide variety of tropical fish. Do not miss the opportunity to enjoy taking pictures of the inhabitants of the underwater world of the Pacific Ocean that will appear before your eyes when swimming or diving in this area.
2. Visit Punta Espinoza
Punta Espinoza is located on the northeast tip of Fernandina Island. It is the only visitor site on Fernandina Island and is an ideal place to appreciate the exclusive wildlife of the islands west of the Galapagos. It is a narrow ledge of lava and sand that extends from the base of the volcano to the sea, and in this place, there is a landing site.
Punta Espinoza is a unique area with a very high biodiversity since, in Fernandina, there are no introduced species. It is home to a large colony of marine iguanas, although other fascinating creatures will be crawling on the rocks and basking in the sun.
The flat lava here offers an arid landscape, yet flightless cormorants build their nests, sea lions stretch out on the beach or play in tide pools, penguins frolic in herds, and large numbers of marine iguanas splash the sand
Punta Espinoza has a fantastic combination of new lava rocks and animal life, making it a perfect place to explore. In addition to enjoying the animals present there, you can take a short walk on the beach or explore the lava fields.
3. Take walks on the trails
Fernandina offers opportunities for hiking along its natural trails. There are a few short hiking trails on Fernandina Island, including one that leads to the top of a lava flow. The views from the top are spectacular, and you may even see some wildlife along the way. You can explore the island’s unique mangroves, lava fields, and volcanic landscapes. Remember always to follow the indications and regulations to preserve the ecosystem.
4. Appreciate the birds
Fernandina is home to numerous bird species, including flightless cormorants, Galapagos penguins, and Galapagos hawks. You can admire their behavior and observe their nests in the rocky cliffs.
5. Enjoy the panoramic views
Fernandina Island boasts impressive lava landscapes and offers spectacular panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean. Hence, another thing to do on Fernandina Island is to climb to high points to enjoy panoramic views of the island and its surroundings. In addition, you can observe the remains of ancient volcanic eruptions that have shaped the island.
6. Appreciate the volcanic remains
Fernandina Island is one of the most volcanically active islands in the Galapagos; you can see evidence of this all over the island. The lava fields are a unique and otherworldly landscape; you may even see some steam vents or hot springs.
Fernandina is home to one of the most active volcanoes in the Galapagos, the La Cumbre volcano. This has a caldera 5 kilometers (3.1 miles) in diameter and 900 meters deep. You can explore the solidified lava fields produced by the eruptions of the La Cumbre volcano and learn about the island’s volcanic geology.
Remember that during your visit you must keep a safe distance from active volcanic areas and follow the instructions of the guides, that is, for safety, visitors will only be able to appreciate the surroundings of this volcano.
Recommended reading: Things to do in Galapagos that you cannot miss.
What animals are found on Fernandina Island?
On Fernandina Island, it is possible to see: marine iguanas, colonies of flightless cormorants (especially in spring and summer), sea lions, Galapagos zayapas, pelicans, Galapagos penguins, lava lizards, Galapagos hawks, and Galapagos snakes.
Tips for visiting Fernandina Island
In this section, we offer you some tips for visiting Fernandina Island:
Remember that, as part of the delicate ecosystem of the Galapagos Islands, it is essential to follow all regulations and conservation advice while visiting Fernandina Island. At all times, be respectful of the wildlife that inhabits the island, as it is home to a wide variety of wildlife, and it is important not to touch or feed any animals you find there. Safeguarding wildlife and the natural environment is critical to preserving this wonderful place for future generations.
Remember that Fernandina Island is a remote and wild island, so it is crucial to be prepared for any event when you visit. Pack sunscreen, a hat, sunglasses, and a raincoat. Remember that on Fernandina Island, there are plenty of lava rocks, so we recommend you wear hiking shoes, which will maintain your grip on the rocky surface and allow you to explore the island safely and comfortably.
Fernandina is an island with a vast natural history, making it an ideal destination year-round. However, we recommend that you visit Fernandina Island during the hot season. This season in the Galapagos runs from December to May and is the best time to visit Fernandina Island. The weather is more stable during this time, and there is less chance of rain. The choice of date for your trip could also be based on what you want to see. For example, in the hot season and if you practice snorkeling you will have better opportunities to see Galapagos penguins and sea turtles;. In contrast, in the season that goes from June to November, there will be a more significant opportunity to see dolphins and whales. For more information, in our article: Best time to travel to Galapagos, you will find all the necessary information to define the dates of your trip to this incomparable archipelago.
Finally, remember that a Galapagos expedition cruise is the only way to visit Fernandina Island. Hence, you must make sure that the visit to Fernandina Island is included in the itinerary of the cruise you choose. In advance, it is important that you make your choice and cruise reservation based on what you prefer to visit, so you need to define which islands you will visit in the Galapagos archipelago. For this purpose, and to help you decide, we recommend you read our note: Best islands to visit in Galapagos.
Now that you know what to do on Fernandina Island and with the desire to travel to this exciting island in the Galapagos archipelago, 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 review this unique selection of the best Galapagos tours operated by our partner Viator (Tripadvisor).