About Bartolome Island in the Galapagos
Official Name: Bartolome Island
English Name: Bartholomew Island
Visitor Sites: The two beaches and the trail to the summit
Area: 0.5 sq. miles (1.3 sq km)
Max altitude: 374 feet (114 meters)
Approximate Age: 1.5 - 2 million years old
Animals Regularly Seen: Galapagos penguins
Animals occasionally or seasonally seen: Galapagos hawks, white tipped reef sharks
Animals Rarely Seen: Galapagos snakes
Vegetation: The majority are pioneer plants, but in between the two beaches the vegetation is lusher with a number of halophitic plants present.
Geology: Different parts of the island have varied origins, some with fresh lavas and spatter cones and others consisting of eroded tuff formations.
Bartolome Island is famous for Pinnacle Rock, a towering spearheaded obelisk that rises from the ocean’s edge and is the best known landmark in the Galapagos. Galapagos penguins—the only species of penguin found north of the equator—walk precariously along narrow volcanic ledges at its base. Sea lions snooze on rocky platforms, ready to slide into the water to play with passing snorkelers. Just below the surface, shoals of tropical fish dodge in and out of the rocks past urchins, sea stars and anemones.
A perfectly crescent sandy beach lies just to the east of the pinnacle. Sea turtles use the beach as a nesting site and could sometimes be found wading in the shallow water near the shore, or resting in the sand to recover from the arduous task of digging nests, laying eggs and covering them over. Penguins dot the nearby rocks of the next landing site, less than half a mile along the eastern shore. Here the submerged walls of a tiny volcanic crater give the impression of a fountain pool. This dry landing—no wet feet!—is the entrance to a 600-meter (2000-foot) pathway complete with stairs and boardwalks leading to Bartolome’s summit. The route is not difficult and presents an open textbook of vulcanology; a site left untouched after its last eruption, where small cones stand in various stages of erosion and lava tubes form bobsled-like runs from the summit. At the top you will be rewarded with spectacular views of Santiago Island and James Bay to the west, and far below, Pinnacle Rock and our beach, where the crystal turquoise waters of the bay cradle your Galapagos cruise yacht.