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Visiting Fernandina Island In The Galápagos


Modified: December 28, 2023

by Annamarie Seng



Welcome to Fernandina Island, a mesmerizing destination located in the Galápagos Islands. This remote and unspoiled island offers a unique and immersive experience for nature lovers and adventure seekers alike. With its pristine beaches, volcanic landscapes, and diverse wildlife, Fernandina Island is a true paradise waiting to be explored.


Fernandina Island, also known as Narborough Island, is the youngest and most pristine of the Galápagos Islands. It is located in the western part of the archipelago and is characterized by its untouched beauty and isolation. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this volcanic island offers a glimpse into the raw forces of nature and showcases the incredible biodiversity that the Galápagos is famous for.


With its unique geography and isolation, Fernandina Island is a haven for an abundance of wildlife species that have adapted to the harsh conditions of this volcanic environment. From marine iguanas basking in the sun to flightless cormorants diving into the crystal-clear waters, visitors here have the opportunity to witness some of nature’s most remarkable creatures up close and personal.


One of the main attractions of Fernandina Island is its volcanic landscape. The island is dominated by the majestic La Cumbre volcano, which last erupted in 2018. The lava fields, rugged terrain, and lack of human intervention create a truly otherworldly atmosphere, making it a paradise for adventure enthusiasts and photographers alike.


Whether you are interested in exploring the unique flora and fauna, embarking on thrilling hikes, or simply relaxing on pristine beaches, Fernandina Island has something to offer for everyone. Join us as we dive into the wonders of this incredible island and discover why it should be on your bucket list of must-visit destinations.


Location of Fernandina Island

Fernandina Island is located in the western part of the Galápagos archipelago, off the coast of Ecuador in the Pacific Ocean. It is the third-largest island in the Galápagos and is situated to the west of Isabela Island. The island is part of the Galápagos National Park and Marine Reserve, a protected area spanning the entire archipelago.


Measuring approximately 247 square kilometers (95 square miles), Fernandina Island is a volcanic island formed by a single shield volcano known as La Cumbre. This active volcano stands tall at an elevation of 1,469 meters (4,820 feet) and has erupted numerous times throughout history, shaping the island’s unique landscape.


Fernandina Island is situated in the cold waters of the Humboldt Current, which brings a rich supply of nutrients to the surrounding marine ecosystem. This nutrient-rich environment supports a diverse array of marine life, making it a haven for snorkelers and divers.


Due to its remote location and strict conservation efforts, access to Fernandina Island is limited. Visiting the island requires proper authorization and adherence to the guidelines set by the Galápagos National Park. This ensures that the fragile ecosystem and wildlife of the island are protected and preserved for future generations.


The isolation and untouched nature of Fernandina Island make it a truly unique destination in the Galápagos. Its pristine beauty, along with its geographic proximity to other notable islands like Isabela and Santiago, makes it a popular stop for cruises and island-hopping tours in the region.


Now that we have explored the location of Fernandina Island, let’s delve into its captivating geology and landscape, which make it one of the most extraordinary destinations in the Galápagos.


Geology and Landscape

Fernandina Island is a geological wonder, showcasing the dramatic forces of nature that have shaped the Galápagos Islands over millions of years. As the youngest island in the archipelago, its landscape is dominated by the imposing presence of the La Cumbre volcano, the primary geologic feature of the island.


La Cumbre is an active shield volcano that last erupted in 2018, creating a desolate and otherworldly terrain. The volcano’s eruptions have formed extensive lava flows and intricate lava formations, giving Fernandina Island an eerie and surreal beauty. As you explore the island, you will witness vast fields of solidified lava, twisted lava tubes, and spectacular volcanic cones, showcasing the raw power of nature.


The lava flows on Fernandina Island are predominantly composed of basalt, which gives them their dark, almost black, appearance. This volcanic rock is rich in minerals and nutrients, enabling the establishment of unique plant and animal species that have adapted to the harsh environment.


While the island’s coastline is primarily rugged and rocky, there are also stunning white and black sand beaches scattered along its shores. These pristine beaches provide nesting grounds for marine turtles and are a fantastic spot for observing marine fauna and enjoying the tranquility of the island.


The lack of human intervention and the pristine nature of Fernandina Island’s landscape make it a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts. Guided hikes and walks on designated trails allow visitors to explore the island’s diverse terrain, providing opportunities to witness the unique geologic features up close. From towering volcanic cliffs to ancient lava caves, every step on Fernandina Island is an exploration of its geological history.


As you venture inland, you will encounter sparse vegetation, mainly consisting of hardy pioneer plants that have managed to thrive in the unforgiving conditions. These plants, such as lava cacti and mangroves, have adapted to the nutrient-poor soil and high salt content, serving as a testament to the resilience of life in the Galápagos.


The geology and landscape of Fernandina Island encapsulate the true essence of the Galápagos, showcasing the raw beauty and power of nature. In the next section, we will delve into the unique flora and fauna that call this island home.


Flora and Fauna

Fernandina Island is teeming with a remarkable variety of flora and fauna, showcasing the rich biodiversity that the Galápagos Islands are renowned for. Despite its harsh volcanic environment, the island supports a range of unique plant and animal species that have adapted to thrive in this challenging ecosystem.


When it comes to flora, Fernandina Island is characterized by sparse vegetation due to the lack of freshwater and the harsh conditions created by its active volcano. However, where plants do manage to take root, they are exceptional examples of adaptation and resilience. Lava cacti, which are endemic to the Galápagos, can be seen dotting the landscape and provide vital habitat and food sources for many of the island’s inhabitants.


The waters surrounding Fernandina Island are a haven for marine life, thanks to the nutrient-rich currents that flow through the area. The coastline is home to expansive kelp forests, providing shelter and sustenance for a variety of fish species and marine invertebrates.


One of the most notable and unique inhabitants of Fernandina Island is the marine iguana. This species, found only in the Galápagos, thrives on the island’s black lava shores. Visitors can witness these fascinating creatures basking in the sun, blending in with the volcanic landscape.


Flightless cormorants, another endemic species, are a highlight of Fernandina Island’s fauna. They have evolved in the absence of land predators and have lost the ability to fly, adapting to become excellent swimmer and divers. The island is home to the largest population of flightless cormorants in the Galápagos, making it an important breeding ground for these unique birds.


The rich marine life surrounding Fernandina Island includes Galápagos penguins, sea lions, and marine turtles. Snorkeling or diving in these pristine waters offers the opportunity to swim alongside playful sea lions or encounter graceful sea turtles gliding through the currents.


It is important to note that Fernandina Island is a strictly protected area, so visitors must adhere to the guidelines set by the Galápagos National Park. These guidelines aim to minimize disturbance to the fragile ecosystem and ensure the preservation of the unique flora and fauna.


Exploring the flora and fauna of Fernandina Island is an awe-inspiring experience that immerses visitors in the incredible diversity of the Galápagos Islands. In the next section, we will delve into the unique wildlife that inhabits this isolated paradise.


Unique Wildlife

Fernandina Island is home to a plethora of unique wildlife species that have evolved in isolation and adapted to the challenging conditions of the Galápagos. From iconic giant tortoises to remarkable marine creatures, the island offers a rare opportunity to encounter some of nature’s most extraordinary creations.


One of the most iconic inhabitants of Fernandina Island is the Galápagos giant tortoise. These majestic creatures can live for over 100 years and weigh up to 500 pounds. Witnessing these gentle giants roaming freely in their natural habitat is a truly humbling experience. The Fernandina Island tortoise is believed to be a separate species, genetically distinct from tortoises found on neighboring islands.


The marine iguanas of Fernandina Island are another fascinating species that have adapted to the volcanic landscape. These unique reptiles are the only marine lizards in the world and have a fascinating behavior of foraging in the ocean for algae. Visitors can observe them sunbathing on the rocky shores or plunging into the water for their underwater exploits.


Perhaps one of the most extraordinary inhabitants of Fernandina Island is the flightless cormorant. These birds have evolved to have underdeveloped wings and are unable to fly. Instead, they have become exceptional divers and swimmers, able to catch fish at great depths. Watching them hunt and display their unique characteristics is a true highlight of a visit to the island.


Other unique wildlife species found on Fernandina Island include Galápagos penguins, the smallest species of penguin in the world, as well as lava herons, which have adapted to the harsh volcanic surroundings by nesting and foraging on the black lava rocks.


It is important to note that the wildlife on Fernandina Island is protected and should be observed from a respectful distance. These incredible creatures have no fear of humans, but it is crucial to minimize any disturbance to their natural behavior and habitat.


Visiting Fernandina Island offers a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to witness the wonders of evolution and nature’s resilience. In the following section, we will explore the conservation efforts in place to ensure the preservation of this pristine and fragile ecosystem.


Conservation Efforts

Fernandina Island, like the rest of the Galápagos Islands, is a vital conservation area recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. The delicate ecosystem and unique wildlife found on the island require dedicated efforts to ensure their preservation for future generations.


The Galápagos National Park, in collaboration with environmental organizations and researchers, plays a crucial role in the conservation and protection of Fernandina Island. Strict regulations and guidelines are in place to regulate visitor access and minimize any potential impact on the fragile ecosystem.


Conservation efforts on Fernandina Island focus on several important aspects, including the preservation of the island’s unique flora and fauna, the restoration of degraded habitats, and the eradication of invasive species.


An ongoing effort is being made to control and monitor the introduced species that pose a threat to the native wildlife and ecosystem. Feral goats, for example, were once a significant problem on the island, causing damage to the vegetation. However, a successful eradication program has led to the restoration of the native vegetation and the resurgence of endemic species.


The protection of the Galápagos giant tortoise population on Fernandina Island is of paramount importance. Given the vulnerability of this species, conservation programs have been implemented to monitor their numbers, protect their nesting sites, and ensure their survival for future generations.


Visitor education and awareness are also vital components of conservation efforts on Fernandina Island. Responsible tourism practices are promoted to minimize the ecological footprint and maintain the natural balance of the ecosystem. Visitors are encouraged to follow strict guidelines, such as keeping a safe distance from wildlife, avoiding littering, and refraining from bringing any non-native species to the island.


The collective efforts of the Galápagos National Park, conservation organizations, researchers, and responsible tourists are essential in safeguarding the unique biodiversity and natural heritage of Fernandina Island. By supporting sustainable ecotourism practices and spreading awareness, we can contribute to the long-term conservation and preservation of this remarkable island.


Now that we have explored the conservation efforts in place, let’s move on to the exciting activities and attractions that await visitors on Fernandina Island.


Things to Do and See

Fernandina Island offers a range of incredible experiences and attractions for visitors who want to immerse themselves in the natural wonders of the Galápagos. From exploring volcanic landscapes to encountering unique wildlife, here are some of the top things to do and see on Fernandina Island:

  1. Hiking: Embark on guided hikes that take you through the awe-inspiring lava fields and volcanic formations of Fernandina Island. Explore the intricate lava tubes, walk along volcanic cliffs, and marvel at the unique geological features.
  2. Wildlife Encounters: Get up close and personal with the incredible wildlife that inhabits Fernandina Island. Observe the iconic Galápagos giant tortoises in their natural habitat, watch marine iguanas as they bask in the sun, and marvel at the flightless cormorants as they dive into the crystal-clear waters.
  3. Snorkeling and Diving: Dive into the pristine waters surrounding Fernandina Island for a chance to encounter a diverse array of marine life. Swim alongside playful sea lions, admire the colorful fish species, and witness the graceful movements of sea turtles.
  4. Beach Exploration: Relax and unwind on the pristine beaches of Fernandina Island. From white sand to black volcanic shores, the island offers a variety of coastal landscapes perfect for sunbathing or simply enjoying the tranquility of the surroundings.
  5. Photography: Fernandina Island is a paradise for photographers. Capture the dramatic volcanic landscapes, unique wildlife species, and stunning vistas that the island offers. Whether you are a professional or an amateur, the opportunities for breathtaking shots are endless.
  6. Educational Talks and Interpretive Centers: Learn about the unique ecosystem of Fernandina Island through educational talks and visits to interpretive centers. Gain a deeper understanding of the island’s geology, flora, fauna, and conservation efforts.
  7. Sunset Cruises: Experience the beauty of Fernandina Island from the water with a sunset cruise. Enjoy breathtaking views of the volcanic coastline and watch as the sun sets on the horizon, painting the sky with vibrant colors.
  8. Birdwatching: Fernandina Island is a haven for birdwatchers. Spot a wide variety of bird species, including the elusive flightless cormorants, Galápagos penguins, and lava herons, as they go about their daily activities in their natural habitat.

These are just a few of the remarkable experiences that await you on Fernandina Island. Immerse yourself in the wonders of nature, embark on unforgettable adventures, and create memories that will last a lifetime.


In the next section, we will discuss the best time to visit Fernandina Island to make the most of your trip.


Best Time to Visit

The best time to visit Fernandina Island in the Galápagos largely depends on your preferences and the type of experience you are seeking. The Galápagos has a unique climate characterized by two main seasons: the warm and wet season (December to May) and the cool and dry season (June to November).


If you prefer warmer weather and calmer waters for snorkeling and swimming, the months of December to May are ideal. During this time, you can expect temperatures ranging from 77°F (25°C) to 86°F (30°C). However, it is important to note that this is also the rainy season, so occasional showers and high humidity should be expected. This is also the mating season for many species, offering opportunities to witness unique animal behaviors and courtship displays.


If you enjoy cooler temperatures and excellent visibility for diving, the months of June to November are recommended. During these months, temperatures range from 68°F (20°C) to 77°F (25°C), and the cooler waters attract a greater variety of marine species. You may also have the chance to witness the incredible migration of various species, such as whales and sea turtles.


It’s important to note that the wildlife on Fernandina Island can be observed year-round, as the unique species that call it home are present throughout the year. However, specific behaviors, such as nesting or courtship displays, may vary depending on the season.


Regardless of the time of year you choose to visit, Fernandina Island offers breathtaking natural beauty and unparalleled wildlife encounters. Be sure to check the weather and climate patterns for the specific time of your visit and pack accordingly, including sunscreen, hats, and lightweight clothing for protection against the sun.


Now that you know the best time to visit Fernandina Island, let’s explore how to get there and the available accommodation options to plan your trip.


How to Get to Fernandina Island

Getting to Fernandina Island in the Galápagos requires careful planning and coordination due to its remote and protected location. Here are the main steps to consider when arranging your journey:


1. International Flights: Start by booking a flight to Ecuador’s main international airport, Mariscal Sucre International Airport (UIO), located in Quito or José Joaquín de Olmedo International Airport (GYE), located in Guayaquil. These cities serve as the main gateways to the Galápagos Islands.


2. Domestic Flight: From either Quito or Guayaquil, you will need to take a domestic flight to Seymour Airport (GPS) on Baltra Island in the Galápagos. This is the nearest airport to Fernandina Island and serves as the jumping-off point for your visit.


3. Transfer to Santa Cruz Island: Upon arrival at Seymour Airport, you will be transferred to the nearby Itabaca Canal, where a ferry or water taxi will take you across to Santa Cruz Island. This is the central hub for accessing the various islands in the Galápagos archipelago.


4. Inter-Island Transportation: From Santa Cruz Island, you will need to arrange inter-island transportation to Fernandina Island. This can be done through guided tours, cruises, or island-hopping packages, which typically include visits to multiple islands, including Fernandina.


5. Traveling by Cruise: Opting for a cruise is a popular and convenient way to explore Fernandina Island and other islands in the Galápagos. Cruises range in duration from a few days to several weeks, offering different itineraries and opportunities for wildlife encounters.


6. Land-Based Tours: Alternatively, you can choose a land-based tour that includes accommodations on Santa Cruz Island or Isabela Island, from where day trips to Fernandina Island can be organized. This option allows for flexibility in exploring the islands at your own pace.


It is important to note that access to Fernandina Island is regulated by the Galápagos National Park, and visitors must follow specific guidelines to protect the fragile ecosystem. Visitors are required to be accompanied by a licensed guide, and there are designated visitor sites where landings and activities are permitted.


When planning your trip, it is advisable to consult with a reputable tour operator or travel agency that specializes in Galápagos travel. They can assist in arranging the necessary transportation and ensure compliance with the park regulations.


Now that you have an idea of how to get to Fernandina Island, let’s explore the available accommodation options for a comfortable stay during your visit.


Accommodation Options

When visiting Fernandina Island in the Galápagos, there are several accommodation options available to suit different preferences and budgets. Here are some of the options to consider:

  1. Cruise Ships: Many visitors choose to stay on a cruise ship to explore the Galápagos Islands, including Fernandina Island. Cruise ships offer a range of itineraries, from shorter trips to longer expeditions, allowing you to experience multiple islands while enjoying meals, guided excursions, and comfortable cabins onboard.
  2. Hotels and Lodges: On Santa Cruz Island, the main hub for Galápagos tourism, you’ll find a variety of hotels and lodges that serve as a base for exploration. These accommodations range from budget-friendly options to luxurious resorts, offering amenities such as comfortable rooms, dining options, and organized tours to Fernandina Island.
  3. Eco-Lodges: For those seeking a more eco-friendly and immersive experience, there are eco-lodges available on Santa Cruz Island and Isabela Island. These lodges prioritize sustainability and provide a closer connection to nature while offering comfortable accommodations and guided tours to Fernandina Island.
  4. Island-Hopping Packages: Another option is to book an island-hopping package, which allows you to stay in various accommodations on different islands. This gives you the opportunity to explore Fernandina Island and other islands at your own pace, while also experiencing local culture and hospitality.
  5. Camping: For adventurous travelers, camping on designated campsites is an option on Santa Cruz Island. You can pitch a tent and enjoy the simplicity of sleeping under the stars, waking up to the sounds of nature before embarking on a day trip to Fernandina Island.

Whether you prefer the convenience and amenities of a cruise ship or the charm of a land-based accommodation, there are options available to suit different travel styles and budgets. When choosing your accommodation, consider factors such as location, comfort, amenities, and the availability of guided tours or transportation to Fernandina Island.


It is advisable to book your accommodations well in advance, especially during peak travel seasons, to secure your desired options. Reputable travel agencies and tour operators specializing in Galápagos travel can assist you in choosing and booking the most suitable accommodation for your needs.


Now that you have an idea of the accommodation options available, you can start planning your unforgettable trip to Fernandina Island in the Galápagos.



Fernandina Island is a place of wonder and awe, offering visitors a truly unforgettable experience in the Galápagos Islands. From its dramatic volcanic landscapes to its unique and diverse wildlife, this remote and pristine island captivates the hearts of all who venture there.


The geology and landscape of Fernandina Island provide a glimpse into the power of nature, with its volcanic formations and rugged terrain. The flora and fauna found on the island have adapted in remarkable ways to thrive in this challenging environment, creating a haven for endemic species like the marine iguana, flightless cormorant, and Galápagos giant tortoise.


Conservation efforts are essential to protect Fernandina Island’s fragile ecosystem, and visitors are encouraged to follow strict guidelines to minimize their impact on the island’s flora and fauna. By traveling responsibly and supporting sustainable tourism practices, we can contribute to the preservation of this extraordinary island for future generations.


There is no shortage of things to do and see on Fernandina Island. From hiking and beach exploration to snorkeling and wildlife encounters, every moment presents an opportunity for adventure and discovery. Whether you choose to explore the island via a cruise or a land-based tour, you will be immersed in the natural wonders that make Fernandina Island a true paradise.


When planning your trip to Fernandina Island, consider the best time to visit based on your preferences and the unique experiences each season offers. Ensure you make the necessary arrangements to get to the island, either through a guided tour or by organizing inter-island transportation.


With a range of accommodation options available, such as cruise ships, hotels, eco-lodges, and island-hopping packages, you can find the perfect place to stay and make your visit to Fernandina Island comfortable and memorable.


Prepare yourself for an extraordinary journey as you step onto Fernandina Island, where you will witness nature’s wonders and be humbled by the incredible biodiversity that thrives in this remote corner of the Galápagos. Fernandina Island beckons you to explore, to connect with its unique wildlife, and to create memories that will last a lifetime.