Exploring the Galapagos Islands through a land-based option doesn’t necessarily mean you have to stay on just one island. While an expedition vessel might give you the opportunity to travel to some of the furthest islands that are home to unique species, you don’t necessarily have to go on long journeys to see some of the best spots and most iconic wildlife. Though both a land and sea option are amazing ways to explore this magical place (and a combination of both is even better), you might want to take your exploration at your own pace. When staying at the only beach-front hotel in Santa Cruz, the Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel, guests are able to manage their own agenda at their heart’s desire. It is also a good option if you are prone to sea-sickness and are short on time. Get the most out of the Finch Bay’s relaxing atmosphere, immerse yourself in the Galapagos way of life, and explore some of the most beautiful places in the archipelago located right on Santa Cruz Island and its surrounding islands and islets. Ask at the hotel’s reception for the Finch Bay Sea program and enjoy a luxurious, short and sweet navigation aboard its exclusive Sea Lion vessel. Unsure about which island to explore? Read on and get ready to visit South Plaza by yacht!
– Guide briefing guests aboard the Sea Lion yacht –
South Plaza Island: Small but Filled With Surprises!
This half-moon shaped islet – the result of a collapsed and later uplifted parasitic cone – is but an hour-and-a-half away from Santa Cruz Island aboard the Sea Lion yacht. Its mere 1.3 km length might seem small, but South Plaza is packed with amazing wildlife! Marine iguanas, land iguanas, frigate birds (great and magnificent), blue-footed boobies and their masked cousins, the Nazca boobies, are just some of the animals – all of them Big15 species – that you will get to observe up close when walking through the pretty trail that goes through the island.
If sea lions (also a Big15 favourite) are what you are after, this beautiful island is home to one of the biggest Galapagos sea lion colonies in the entire archipelago along with a bachelor sea lion colony. Some 10 alpha male sea lions can be seen guarding their harems along South Plaza’s shores, while younger and older males end up climbing up the steeper and rockier side of the island to stay out of the alphas’ way.
The Return of the Opuntia Cacti
It is believed that during the 17th century whalers and pirates released goats on South Plaza in order to have an available meat supply whenever they returned to the Galapagos. Goats fed on opuntia cacti, and as their numbers increased, the plant species decreased and with it – the land iguana population that once competed with the goats for the opuntia. By the time the Galapagos National Park got to South Plaza in the 90’s and eradicated the goat population, the opuntia had been so heavily reduced that natural dissemination was no longer viable. An artificial dissemination program was put into effect around 10 years ago in order to accelerate the plant’s recovery, which is why you will find some cacti growing under or inside protective structures. One thing is for sure: in the coming years we will be able to admire this island’s opuntia cacti population as it once was, which only adds to its present beauty.
After Your Visit to South Plaza by Yacht
Return to the Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel at the end of your exploration and take your time to relax. Let yourself be swept away by the ocean’s breeze, enjoy one of the hotel’s signature cocktails and superb gastronomy, and look back on a day of adventure and unforgettable memories!