Galapagos Islands Santiago – The Black Lava Island

Galapagos Islands Santiago, also known as James or San Salvador Island, is the fourth-largest island in the Galapagos archipelago. Its unique landscape is made up of long beaches with eroded remnants of black lava, which serves as a great reminder of its volcanic origins. Only parts of the island are open for tourism. There is a circular trail that takes you past lava caves and an old salt factory.

You can visit Puerto Egas in northwestern Santiago, where its black beach has become one of the island’s main attractions due to its 100-year-old volcanic tuff deposit. You will find sea lions and marine iguanas sunbathing on the beaches there too!

In the 17th and 19th centuries, Buccaneer Cove was a safe haven for pirates, sailors, and whalers. The cliffs of this picturesque bay are nesting sites for hundreds of seabirds. Two of the most famous rock formations are El Monje and Roca Elefante. You can take your time to enjoy a stroll along the beach, go for a refreshing swim or snorkel with the marine animals.

Bahía Espumilla Bay is located in the northeastern part of Island Santiago. Along this bay, you can visit the Palo Santo (holy wood) forest. Further down the beach, you will find sea turtle nests, Galapagos hawks, lava herons, yellow-crowned night herons and cliff herons.

Sullivan Bay is situated on the east coast of Galapagos Islands Santiago. The highlight of the island is to take a 1.5-kilometer walk through the striking pahoehoe lava (solidified lava with a puffy pillow-like or wavy surface). We highly recommend visiting this part of the island in the afternoon when the weather conditions are good and the lighting is perfect for photography.

Island Santiago at a glance

Area: 585 km2
Highest elevation: 907 m
Population: uninhabited

Ways to get there: hotel/cruise ship, small boats