Most interesting landmarks of Galapagos Islands

Below are listed the most amazing natural and man made landmarks of Galapagos Islands.

Natural landmarks of Galapagos Islands

  • Volcan de Azufre – Isabela. Fumarolic area in the crater of Sierra Negra volcano, where the extremely rare terrestrial sulfuric flows have been identified.
  • Volcan Ecuador – north-west of Isabela. Somewhat mysterious volcano, which somehow is missing its western half. May be this part collapsed in rather recent past, thus causing a giant tsunami.
Rock formations
  • Darwin’s Arch – near Darwin Island. Spectacular sea stack – approximately 15 m tall natural arch. Spectacular dive site, extremely rich with sea life.
  • Kicker Rock (León Dormido) – San Cristóbal. A group of two impressive, up to 150 m tall sea stacks formed from palagonite – a rock formed by the contact of hot volcanic glass with sea water.
Caves, sinkholes
Scalesia forest around and in Los Gemelos sinkhole, Galapagos
Scalesia forest around and in Los Gemelos sinkhole / Dallas Krentzel, / CC BY 2.0
  • Lava tunnels in Santa Cruz – Santa Cruz. Santa Cruz is especially rich with lava tunnels. Interesting is the "Tunnel of Endless Love" which in profile is heart shaped – an 800 m long "heart". The longest are Cueva del Cascajo (3,010 m) and Cueva de Gallardo (2,250 m).
  • Los Gemelos craters – Santa Cruz. Two enormous sinkholes, created by the collapse of two lava caves. Sinkholes and their surroundings are covered with the exotic, endemic Scalesia forests.
Opuntia trees and Sesuvium cover in South Plaza, Galapagos Islands
Opuntia trees and Sesuvium cover in South Plaza, Galapagos Islands / Don Heffernan, / CC BY 2.0
  • Ecosystem of Española Island – Española. On the oldest island of the archipelago (some 3.5 million years old) have developed many endemic species – lava lizard, hood mockingbird (Mimus macdonaldi), tortoise. This is almost the only place where the waved albatross (Phoebastria irrorata) is breeding.
  • Miconia belt in San Cristobal and Santa Cruz – southern slopes of the highlands of San Cristobal and Santa Cruz. A zone at 600 – 700 m height, where the endemic Miconia robinsoniana forms dense, 3 – 4 m tall stands. This zone is rich also with ferns and liverworts.
  • Punta Espinosa – Fernandina. A narrow lava strip extending into the sea. In this place gather hundreds of the unique marine iguanas (Amblyrhynchus cristatus).
  • Forest of daisy trees in Santa Cruz – Santa Cruz. Spectacular cloud forest dominated by Scalesia pedunculata trees. This is the largest tree in the Asteraceae family and grows up to 15 m tall. These unusual tree-like daisies are endemic to Galápagos and form smaller forest on several islands.
  • South Plaza vegetation – small island near Santa Cruz. This 0.13 km² is covered with unique vegetation. Ground is lined with succulents – Sesuvium. These plants change the color of the island from intense green to orange and purple in the dry season. From this unusual plant carpet rise the endemic, tree-like Opuntia cacti. Here lives the unique Hybrid Iguana – a sterile hybrid of the endemic Marine Iguanas and Land Iguanas, able to feed on cacti and hunt in the sea.
Other natural landmarks
  • Abingtonite of Pinta – Pinta. Unique basaltic lava with enormous crystals of plagioclase. This rock is named abingtonite and is found only on Pinta as well as in smaller quantities in the northern Galápagos islands.
  • El soplador – blowhole in Española. In the volcanic rocks of Galapagos have formed numerous impressive blowholes but this one is the best known because it is at the tourist route. At high tide this blowhole at Punta Suarez spouts the water up to 25 m high.

Man made landmarks of Galapagos Islands

Stone head of Floreana, Galapagos
Stone head of Floreana / Dallas Krentzel, / CC BY 2.0
  • James Bay archaeological finds – San Salvador. A find of broken pottery and flints on the cliffs and plateau above the beach. These artifacts have been left by an ancient South American culture.
  • Stone head of Floreana – Floreana. A mock-up of the statues in Easter Island, made by a German settler.

Described landmarks of Galápagos Islands

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Galápagos Islands themselves are a true wonder of the world.

Marine iguana at Punta Espinoza
Marine iguana at Punta Espinoza / Harvey Barrison, / CC BY-SA 2.0

For several million years the life on these remote islands developed independently and many unique species of plants and animals evolved here. Here walk giant tortoises, large lizards dive in the sea looking for food, small passerine birds drink blood of other birds and high up in the mountains daisies have evolved into large trees.

Wondermondo does not see this large and diverse archipelago as a single wonder / landmark and has searched the islands for smaller sites. Most interesting ones are listed here.

Featured: Forest of daisy trees in Santa Cruz

Unique forest of Scalesia pedunculata, Santa Cruz in Galapagos Islands
Unique forest of Scalesia pedunculata, Santa Cruz / Haplochromis, / CC BY-SA 3.0

Some daisies look like trees. And in some places these tree-like daisies form true forests.

Such unique forest has formed in the central part of Santa Cruz – one of Galápagos Islands. This unusual forest though is in immediate peril and can disappear soon.

Recommended books

Galápagos: The Islands That Changed the World

Rocky, fragile, beautiful, strange―the Galápagos archipelago is unlike any other place on earth. Its geology, its unique flora and fauna, and its striking role in human history intersect in surprising and dynamic ways. This book is the most wide-ranging and beautifully illustrated book available on the famous islands. Not since Darwin’s Naturalist’s Voyage has a book combined so much scientific and historic information with firsthand accounts that bring the Galápagos to life.

Galapagos: A Natural History, Revised and Expanded

Twenty thousand copies of the first edition of Galápagos were sold. An attractive and comprehensive guidebook, this work has been completely revised and updated by the author. The reader will find an easy-to-use text which details the natural history of the plants and animals found in the Galápagos Islands. Management and conservation of the Galápagos National Park is discussed, and visitor information and notes about the various tourist sites are given.

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