Pinzon Island is found among the central Galapagos Islands. In fact, it is considered to be the geographical center point of the islands. Despite its central location is remains relatively isolated and it is much less frequently visited than other islands in the archipelago, and especially in the central islands. The island covers an area of seven miles square (18 kilometers square) and it reaches an altitude at its highest point of 1502 feet (458 meters). The name “Pinzon Island” is derived from the two Pinzon brothers who were captains of boats Pinta and Nina on the Columbus trip to the New World. The island is also sometimes known as Duncan Island. It was named Duncan Island after Adam Duncan, first Viscount Duncan.
The main activity at Pinzon Island is snorkeling, and a particular highlight if you are lucky, can be snorkeling among penguins – a very appealing prospect for Galapagos visitors. Landings on the island itself are rare, and when these happen, they are wet landings, as there is no infrastructure at Pinzon Island. Some day tours include beach relaxation time on the island. Very few Galapagos cruises include Pinzon Island as part of their itineraries. Diving is also good at the marine Galapagos visitor site near this island, and a few live aboard boats may include this spot on their itineraries.
Some Galapagos Island cruise operators include a stop on or near Pinzon Island in their itineraries. However, this is quite unusual – which is surprising given the central location of this island. If you have a burning desire to visit Pinzon Island on your Galapagos cruise or land-based trip, you will need to make sure that you book the right tour, given the scarcity of visits here.
A handful of tour operators run day trips to the waters around Pinzon Island. For example, a popular day tour is to snorkel in the open waters in one of the large but sheltered bays around the island. Tours advertise the exciting opportunity of swimming among penguins, without causing these birds distress, which is an appealing option for Galapagos visitors, especially those on land-based Galapagos tours. Tours depart from Santa Cruz Island and generally last all day, using a beach at Pinzon at the base for some fabulous snorkeling and relaxation.
Since there are few visits to Pinzon Island and most are water-based trips (e.g. snorkeling), it is helpful to understand the weather and currents at different times of the year. In the months from December through to May, the weather is warmer, and this warms the sea water too, making snorkeling more comfortable. In the months of June through to November the seas can be cooler. This is because the Humboldt Current arrives from the Antarctic. While the cooler waters may be less appealing for snorkeling, on the other hand, the waters become richer with life as the current brings a lot of nutrients to the waters around the Galapagos Islands. This means that there are pros and cons to going at any time of the year. There are no real variations in the types of wildlife that can be seen at different types of the year, however, so any time is a good time to go to Pinzon Island. If you want to steer clear of seas that could be rougher, you might avoid the months of August and September, or you could take a more stable boat instead.
The main point to visit at Pinzon Island is a marine visitor site, a little way south of the island. This site is called No Name Rock. Here it is possible to see a range of species underwater and in particular, the hammerhead shark, Galapagos sharks, rays and sea turtles. Dolphins can sometimes be seen swimming in this area. On Pinzon Island itself, sea lions, Galapagos hawk, lava lizard, Galapagos snake, marine iguana and giant tortoises. There are also Darwin’s finches, vermillion flycatchers and Galapagos doves to be found here. The tortoise population on the island is particularly interesting, and there is a Pinzon tortoise project that has been running since the 1960s that is still ongoing. The island struggled in the past with a scourge of black rats, and whalers almost killed off all of the population of Pinzon tortoises. The project has been working to build up the population of Pinzon tortoises, to restore it once again to a healthy size on this island.
Our primary recommendation for visitors that want to stop at Pinzon Island is to beware that only a very few cruises visit this place. If you want to make sure that you visit this location, then be sure to double check your itinerary to see if it is included.
As experts in Galapagos cruises and land-based tours, we can help you by making sure the trip you choose has Pinzon Island in its itinerary. Why not get in touch now and we can assist you with finding your ideal Galapagos Islands trip.