Fernandina Island is one of the furthest outlying western islands of the Galapagos archipelago. It is one of the youngest of the island (the third oldest) and it was formed less than one million years ago. The island is large by Galapagos standards, covering an area of 248 square miles (642 kilometers square). It is a shield volcano with a caldera that spans a width of four miles (6.5 kilometers). The island is considered to be the most active from a volcanic perspective.
Fernandina Island has a noteworthy appearance in that there is not too much vegetation. The majority of the vegetation is comprised of cacti that are able to live in these types of conditions. This was caused by recent volcanic activity, giving the island a somewhat barren appearance. Visitors to this island may expect that Fernandina Island weather is much the same as in the rest of the weather in Galapagos. You can expect generally rather warm weather, and some rain during the rainy season.
Fernandina Island can be reached only by boat. The vast majority of those that visit this lovely island will do so via a Galapagos cruise which goes to the Western Islands. Please note that not all Galapagos cruises visit the Western Islands of the Galapagos, so if you want to visit Fernandina Island it is important to make sure that your Galapagos cruise does go here. Some of our favorite cruise options to take and that do visit Fernandina are the Grand Majestic Yacht, the Elite Cruise and the Infinity Galapagos boat among others. Those that are on land-based trips to the Galapagos will be very unlikely to be able to visit Fernandina Island. If you want to be sure to see Fernandina Island the only really reliable way of doing so is to take a cruise that visits the western islands, as mentioned.
Fernandina Island has very little human history, and most of its history is geological. This is because there are no human settlements on the island. There are historical records of eruptions on the island documented a ship captain in the 19th century. One large explosion was also documented in 1968, and this led to the collapse of the caldera on Fernandina Island. There was also an eruption in 2005.
Most recently there was a volcanic eruption at Fernandina Island in April 2009. While there were concerns that the wildlife could be threatened by this eruption, ultimately the eruption was over within just a matter of hours, limiting the damage done. However, the geology of the island would appear to be rather volatile, with the likelihood of further eruptions.
One of the great Fernandina Island highlights is the fact that the island is so unspoiled. This is largely because the island is not populated, is very remote from other parts of the archipelago and there is only one Galapagos visitor site on Fernandina Island.
Other highlights of a visit to Fernandina Island include the fact that it is possible to see the evidence of so much volcanic activity. In addition there are some wonderful wildlife highlights here, including the opportunity to see flightless cormorants, which cannot be seen in many places in the Galapagos Islands.
Fernandina Island wildlife is plentiful. One of the noteworthy points is that the island has a sizeable population of land iguanas. These choose a precarious lifestyle, living on the edge of the volcano’s caldera, and additionally within the caldera itself. The land iguanas here are rather large compared to those found elsewhere in the archipelago.
Fernandina Island is also home to the flightless cormorant. The waters around the island are rather cold, and this is perfect for this intriguing bird. Galapagos penguins also prefer colder waters, and are likely to be found here too.
Other wildlife you might see on Fernandina Island includes sea lions and blue footed boobies, as well as sea lions and fur seals. You may also see snakes, as well as Sally Lightfoot crabs, and on some occasions, Galapagos hawks.
The main Fernandina Island activities are walking and diving. Walking is possible at Punta Espinosa, as explained below. There are two dive sites close to this island. One is at Punta Mangle, and the other is next to the Punta Espinosa visitor site. While diving, visitors to this area might get to see sea horses, turtles, rays, sharks, and Galapagos penguins. It is also possible to spot marine iguanas in the water here.You can find out more about the daily activities of a Galapagos Cruise tour by following this link onto our travel guide.
Fernandina Island visitor points number just one. That visitor site is Punta Espinosa.
At the Punta Espinosa Galapagos visitor site it is possible to take two walks. One of the walks is slightly longer and heads inland. The walk usually extends to the point where there is a large lava flow that can be seen and photographed. Another walk here is somewhat shorter and takes in the peninsula at this visitor site. While there is not very much vegetation on the islands at all, the walks do provide an opportunity to see and take pictures of the lava cactus. This particular plant is able to survive in these difficult environmental conditions because it requires only very little water.
At the Punta Espinosa site it is possible to see marine iguanas, and if you come at the right time of the year you might even get to see them nesting. The babies are mostly seen around June time. For obvious reasons, this is also the time that you might be more likely to see Galapagos snakes and the Galapagos hawk in this area, as the eggs and the newly hatched young make for interesting meals for these creatures.
Fernandina Island hotels and Fernandina Island restaurants simply do not exist. The island is uninhabited and has no human settlements or infrastructure. Visitors to Fernandina Island will be staying on their Galapagos Islands cruise boat, and they will be eating there too. Do not expect to find any way to be able to stay on this pristine island. If Fernandina island is on your bucket list contact our team of Galapagos local experts and let us assist you in planning the perfect Galapagos Cruise tour for you and your loved ones.