Also known as Tower Island or Bird Island, Genovesa is a shield volcano located in the northeastern region of the Galapagos Archipelago. Home to a diverse array of wildlife including storm petrels, frigate birds, boobies, sharks, and fur seals, it’s a must-visit in the Galapagos archipelago for bird enthusiasts. For those of you traveling with us on Aqua Mare’s east itinerary, this horse-shoe shaped island is the second port of call on your once-in-a-lifetime voyage.
Bird paradise on El Barranco
Along the southern shoreline of Great Darwin Bay lies a 1.5 kilometer trail that ascends the rocky cliffside and leads to a petrified lava field teeming with bird life. This area is known as El Barranco and has often been referred to as Prince Phillip’s Steps since the site was visited by the prince in 1965 and 1981.
As you make your way up the steps and onto a volcanic plateau, keep your eyes peeled as you are now in prime bird-watching territory. Nested in the crevices of the lava field, you will be able to marvel at the Galapagos petrel. Unlike its relative breeds, this endemic petrel is active during the day.
It is estimated that there are over 200,000 pairs of Galapagos petrels living on the island. However, despite this staggering number, the species is critically endangered and many conservation efforts are currently underway to protect its population.
At El Barranco, you will also have the pleasure of spotting a wealth of other bird life up-close, including red-footed boobies, frigate birds, short-eared owls, and swallow-tailed gulls. As you set off on Aqua Mare’s day excursions, our expert naturalist guides will point out the different species and provide rare insights into the lives of these indigenous creatures.
Beneath the waves
Although you may find yourself looking towards the skies and mesmerized by the volcanic landscapes, let’s not forget that, beneath the waves, there is a wonderland of marine life waiting to be discovered.
The diversity of aquatic fauna and reefs make the waters around Genovesa Island one of the most sought-after dive destinations in the world. In addition, the conditions are favorable all year round, making this an ideal destination for divers and snorkelers of all levels.
Here, you will find a vast array of exotic marine life from black tip reef sharks and bottlenose dolphins to shoals of vibrant fish, sea lions, and manta rays. Those visiting between June and November may even have the chance to spot the elusive whale sharks which migrate through the region during those months.
On the sandy shores of Bahia Darwin
Have you ever wondered why the Galapagos Islands are said to be ‘born of fire’? Well, the archipelago is home to 21 volcanoes, 13 of which are active. One of the highlights of Genovesa Island is a direct consequence of this volcanic activity: Bahia Darwin, or in English, Darwin Bay.
Darwin Bay is a collapsed volcanic caldera — a large cauldron-like depression that forms once a volcano erupts and implodes. Today, the area has evolved to house white sandy beaches, calm waters, and stunning coral reefs backed by steep cliffs.
Against this picturesque backdrop, a variety of activities can be enjoyed by the whole family. This includes hiking through mangroves and saltbush where you will be able to spot swallow-tailed gulls, red-footed boobies, lava gulls, and frigate birds. If you’d rather dabble in water recreation, activities such as snorkeling, stand-up paddle boarding, and kayaking can also be availed while sailing on Aqua Mare.
Where do we go next?
After soaking in the sounds and sights of Genovesa Island, those traveling on Aqua Mare’s east itinerary will head back to the ship to unwind under starlit skies.
When you wake up the next day, you will have arrived at Santiago Island, the Galapagos’ fourth biggest island, which is home to one of the region’s most spectacular volcanic landscapes — the Pahoehoe lava flows. Located in Sullivan Bay, these igneous rock formations are fairly young, thought to have been formed during the last quarter of the 19th century.
In the latter part of the day, you will hop over to Santiago Island’s neighboring islet, Sombrero Chino. Here, visitors will bear witness to stunning views and have the opportunity to observe sea lions and rare endemic penguins in the surrounding crystal-clear waters.