Española Island (Isla Española), Galapagos Islands
A popular tourist stop, Isla Espanola is the oldest and most southern island in the Galapagos Archipelago. Around a 10 to 12 hour trip by boat from Isla Santa Cruz, which is 90 km southeast, Espanola’s main attraction is its endemic wildlife. A fantastic place to go bird watching, this island is home to the famed and endemic Waved Albatross, considered to be among the most spectacular birds in the world. Worth touring between the months of late March through to December, when the Waved Albatross rests and nests here, this island is just 61 sq km in size.
Also known as Hood, Isla Espanola has two main visitor sites; one is Punta Suarez on the western end of the island, while Gardner Bay sits on the eastern end. Landing at Punta Suarez is a wet one. However, it is worth it because the wildlife here is amazing. Take a walk along the 2 km long trail to see playful sea lions, a fantastic array of sea birds and some of the largest Marine Iguanas in the archipelago in action.
Considered to be among the best tourist spots in the Galapagos Islands, Punta Suarez is also the habitat for colorful Espanola Lava lizards, Masked boobies and Blue footed boobies. Among the many birds found here are the Galapagos Dove, the Galapagos Hawk, the Warbler Finch, the Hood Mockingbird, the Large-Cactus Finch, the Large-Billed Flycatcher and the Small-Ground Finch. Aside from the gorgeous Waved Albatross, other sea birds seen here include the Swallow-Tailed Gull, Red-Billed Tropicbirds, Audubon's Shearwaters and American Oystercatchers.
East of the island sits Gardner Bay, a tourist favorite for swimming and snorkeling. With a beautiful white sand beach, Gardner Bay is a wonderful place to relax and enjoy the beauty of this area. There is also a sea lion colony here. If you happen to visit here between October and December, you will find Green Sea Turtles mating just off shore.