Genovesa Island

Genovesa Island is a striking horseshoe-shaped island in the northeast of the Galapagos archipelago. It was initially formed by the eruption of a shield volcano. Later, when one side of the caldera collapsed, the sea flooded in, forming Great Darwin Bay and its surrounding cliffs. Another body of water, a salt-water lake called Lake Arcturus, lies at the center of the island.

The peculiar geography of Genovesa Island has made it a bird-watching hot spot, and one of the best places in the Galapagos for viewing red-footed boobies.

Main Visitor Sites

Darwin Beach — The sheltered Darwin Beach lies inside Great Darwin Bay. Visitors can disembark here onto the small sand and coral beach. From here a trail leads past a tidal lagoon before ascending a rocky slope up to a lookout point providing spectacular views of the bay and its surrounding cliffs. The entire trail is a bird-watcher’s paradise. Keep an eye out for lava gulls, lava herons, yellow-crowned herons and pairs of swallow-tailed gulls near the lagoon. Further along, nesting among the palo santo trees and saltbushes, you’ll see great frigatebirds and red-footed boobies. Genovesa is home to the largest population of red-footed boobies in the world, perhaps as many as 200,000.

Great Darwin Bay — The bay is one of the best snorkeling and swimming spots in the Galapagos. The nutrient-rich water attracts a wide variety of marine life, including hammerhead sharks, sea lions, sea turtles, manta rays and starfish.

Prince Philip’s Steps — These steep stone steps, named after Prince Philip who visited the Galapagos in in 1965 and 1981, lead up from the southernmost point of the bay. You’ll need to be dropped off at the bottom by boat, after which you can begin your ascent. The steps are carved directly into the stone, so it can be rough in places. You’ll climb about 82 feet to the top of the cliffs, passing through a seabird colony teeming with Nazca and red-footed boobies. Once at the top, the trail continues along the plateau, through more booby colonies. Also keep an eye out for wedge-rumped storm petrels, frigatebirds and, if you’re lucky, a short-eared owl or two.

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