Darwin Island (Isla Darwin), Galapagos Islands
Named in honor of Charles Darwin, this island is among the smallest in the Galapagos Archipelago at just 1 square kilometer. With no dry landing sites, as this isle emerges vertically from the ocean, Isla Darwinís main attractions arenít found above the surface, but rather in the depths of the Pacific, which is teeming with a spectacular variety of marine life. Considered to be the best place to dive in the world, Isla Darwin offers the underwater opportunity of a lifetime.
First visited in 1964 with the aid of a helicopter, and a further 3-hour boat trip from Isla Wolf, a visit to Isla Darwin or Culpepper Island as it is known, can be the highlight of a trip to the Galapagos for many. Here, one not only gets a chance to dive with sea turtles, dolphins and a plethora of brightly colored fish, but one also gets the rare opportunity to swim with eagle rays, spotted morays, manta rays, hammerhead sharks, Galapagos sharks and the enormous whale sharks. You can encounter these graceful creatures as they hunt for food in this lush and tranquil environment.
Hawksbill turtles, green turtles, pilot whales and melon-headed whales are just a few of the many species of fish that can be seen here. Creole fish, blue-spotted jacks, flounders, amberjacks, scorpion fish, rainbow runners, sailfish, hogfish, bigeye jacks, trumpet fish, parrotfish and many other different species of marine life can also been seen as you dive along. A truly magnificent sight especially for those who are marine enthusiasts, Isla Darwin is a scuba divers dream.
Another main attraction of this tiny island is its impressive stone arch formation, known as Darwinís Arch. On this island you also can spot the endemic Darwin Mockingbird as well as swallow-tailed gulls, sea lions, red footed boobies and masked boobies. And while there is no real access to the island itself, a view from aboard your cruise ship is a treat enough.
One thing that you do need to keep in mind when coming here is that Isla Darwin is an expert scuba diving spot. The swells tend to get quite big and there are strong underwater currents, so it is key that you are alert all the time, when you are in the water.