Bartolome Island (Isla Bartolome), Galapagos Islands
Just off Isla San Salvador’s Sullivan Bay coast, the tiny islet of Isla Bartolome is among the younger of the Galapagos Islands. With a total land area of just 1.2 sq km, this island offers some of the most beautiful landscapes in the archipelago. One of the most famous landmarks in the Galapagos can also be found here, Pinnacle Rock, which is among the most frequently photographed vistas of this volcanic island chain.
Shown recently in the Hollywood movie ‘Master & Commander’, this towering rock face is actually an eroded lava formation. Formed when magma was expelled from an underwater volcano; the sea cooled the hot lava, which then exploded, only to come together and form this huge rock made up of many thin layers of basalt. Pinnacle Rock is considered to be the emblem of the Galapagos to many, and is one of the most recognizable sites here.
Tourists can get off on the island opposite Pinnacle Rock and then proceed to climb a 600m trail to Isla Bartolome’s 114m high summit. From here one is treated to some truly stunning views of Sullivan Bay, Isla San Salvador (Santiago), Pinnacle Rock and Islas Daphne. Though a pretty desolate island with mostly dried shrubbery like candelabra cacti and a few lava lizards running about, what makes this island so special besides Pinnacle Rock is the fact that out here, one can spot the ever playful Galapagos Penguins, which are the second smallest penguin species in the world.
Found near Pinnacle Rock’s shore or swimming in the waters around the Rock, these penguins are a joy to watch as they can be found nowhere else on earth, especially in such warm climates. Take a panga ride around the island to spot them or walk along a white sand beach strip to catch a glimpse of them swimming alongside marine turtles, a variety of brightly colored tropical fish and white-tipped reef sharks, the Galapagos Hawk flies overhead. Marine turtles come ashore to nest here between January and March, while the snorkeling and swimming out here is also pretty amazing.
To reach the island’s summit, visitors have a dry landing from the jetty. However, to visit the beach, a wet landing is necessary. Also don’t forget to bring your camera here for some wonderful photo opportunities of the neighboring islands and superb scenery.