The Galapagos archipelago is made up of a lot of intriguing islands, but one of the most scenic is arguably Bartolome Island. Bartolome Island is named after a naturalist friend of Charles Darwin, named Sir Bartholomew James Sullivan, who worked on the HMS Beagle. Incidentally, this man was also the inspiration of the name of Sullivan Bay on Santiago Island, not far from Bartolome Island. The island is just 1.2 square kilometers (or 0.5 square miles). The maximum altitude on the island is just 374 feet, or 114 meters in height. Bartolome Island It is comprised of an extinct volcano, and it is believed to be one of the younger Galapagos Islands. However, it is still 1.5 million to two million years old. Here we will explain everything you need to know regarding your visit to Bartolome Island.
Bartolome Island is found to the east side of Santiago Island. Visitors may wonder whether it is best to take a Galapagos Islands cruise or to go on a Galapagos land-based option to visit it. It is fairly regularly visited on Galapagos Islands cruises. Those visiting the Galapagos Islands on a land-based option need not fear, as it is also possible to take a day trip to Bartolome Island if staying on Santa Cruz Island. These day trips are not particularly cheap, and take around 7-8 hours, but provide an excellent opportunity to visit this spectacular island. Some of our favorite cruises that include a visit to Bartolome as part of their Galapagos itineraries include the Infinity Galapagos yacht and the Elite Cruise.
One of the interesting highlights of Bartolome Island is the landscape itself, which is simply stunning. In fact, the view from the top of Bartolome Island is perhaps one of the most photographed in all of the Galapagos Islands. Visitors climb a steep wooden stairway and then are rewarded with a 360-degree panorama of the island to enjoy. Generally, a Bartolome Island highlight is its remarkable scenery, and particularly its striking colors. There are black volcanic formations, which contrast sharply with the red, orange and green of the rest of the island.
Another of the spectacular highlights is Pinnacle Rock. This is a lovely spot to visit as there is an interesting mix of wildlife living at its base. There is a colony of Galapagos penguins who share the rock with other marine birds, as well as sea lions. This offers a lovely photography spot, as well as great opportunities for perhaps some of the most interesting snorkeling in the islands.
The island has two main visitors’ sites and one site for divers. At the Isla Bartolome visitor site visitors arrive opposite Pinnacle Rock and it is typical to take a walk along a trail. This allows visitors to enjoy a view of a number of different volcanic formations such as lava flows and tuff cones. Another common site along the way is the Tequila plant. The other visitor site is the iconic Pinnacle Rock itself, which is instantly recognizable. At this point it is possible to swim and snorkel to enjoy the sea life all around. There is additionally a trail from this point through to the southern beach. However, no swimming or diving is allowed from the southern beach. For divers visiting the marine site it may sometimes be possible to view Red-lipped batfish.
A significant number of Galapagos species can be found on this tiny island. A commonly seen feature of Bartolome Island wildlife is the Galapagos penguin. But the penguin is not the only bird living on this small island. It is also possible to see hawks, herons and finches.
The sea life around the island is particularly diverse, and it includes sea lions, sea turtles, a lot of different types of fish, and white-tipped reef sharks. If you are lucky you might also get to spot a ray in the water.
If you are wondering what to do at Bartolome Island, the types of activities are very similar to the other islands, namely, hiking, snorkeling and wildlife spotting. One of the most popular activities during a visit to Bartolome Island is snorkeling in the clear waters surrounding it. A distinct highlight of this activity is the opportunity to spot penguins diving for food underwater, while you are snorkeling. Aside from the likelihood of seeing penguins underwater, there is also a distinct likelihood that you will end up snorkeling with sea lions. These creatures love to play with the slower, more clumsy humans snorkeling in the water around them, and this is a very enjoyable experience. Do steer clear of the larger males however, as these can be more aggressive. Other underwater highlights include marine turtles, white-tipped reef sharks and a colorful array of tropical fish.
Another common and much-loved activity, as already indicated, is hiking to the summit of the island for the fabulous view that extends in every direction from the top. Do not forget your camera as you will most definitely want it when you reach the top! The walk does involve climbing up 300 steps, but most visitors are glad they did it for the picture postcard views they can enjoy once they’ve got their breath back. Joking aside, the climb is really relatively easy. Film buffs will recognize the stunning scenery from the 2003 Peter Weir film Master and Commander starring Russel Crowe.
When you are done snorkeling, swimming and hiking up to the top of the island to see the tremendous view, it is well worth kicking back for a short time on the beach. Some Galapagos Islands cruises will allow time for this, and it can offer a nice relaxing break from the rest of the busy Galapagos itinerary.
Bartolome Island is unpopulated. This means that there are no Bartolome Island hotels or Bartolome Island restaurants. If you are visiting on a day trip as part of a Galapagos land-based option, then your tour company will usually provide lunch – though check with them first. If you are on a Galapagos Islands cruise, then you will be staying and eating on your vessel. There is no way to stay overnight at Bartolome Island. Don't forget to write our local team of Galapagos experts for more information and overall assistance in planning a dream holiday to the Galapagos Islands!