San Salvador (Santiago or James)

San Salvador has suffered from the introduction of non-endemic species such as pigs, goats, donkeys and black rats and these now feral populations have had a serious impact on the natural, endemic flora and fauna. Eradication programs that began in the 1970’s have had some success – particularly with goats and pigs, but this was too late for land iguanas, which are no longer found on the island.

Arriving by Galapagos cruise or by land tour, you will want to see the most popular visitor destinations on San Salvador which are the old pirate bases of Buccaneer Cove and Puerto Egas: interesting for its black sand beach and the picturesque lava tubes that Galapagos sea lions and fur seals squabble over in the search for the perfect basking spot.

Bahía Sullivan sits on the edge of a large, rather desolate yet fascinating lava flow. Intricate patterns have formed in the pahoehoe lava, and the moulds of trees vaporised by the heat can be seen in the flow, some of which was formed as recently as 1900.

Playa Espumilla, by contrast, is a stretch of golden sand that is frequented by nesting green sea turtles, waders and many Galapagos sea lions. Snorkelling is good in the clear water, particularly around the collapsed lava tubes at Puerto Egas, with a wide variety of tropical fish to be seen together with moray eels, shark and octopus.

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