A guide to Bartolome island and Sombrero Chino in the Galapagos

A guide to Bartolome island and Sombrero Chino in the Galapagos

With a spectacular view of arguably the most famous spot in the entire Galapagos Islands, Bartolome island is like something out of a movie. Actually, its volcanic landscape has been in movies, most notably Master and Commander. But that’s a story for another day.

Bartolome island in the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

Visiting Bartolome Island

Despite being tiny, Bartolomé Island packs a punch. Made entirely of volcanic rock, it looks like something from another planet and is completely uninhabitable. Thanks to its location in the centre of the archipelago, more than 10 different islands can be seen on a clear day from the main viewpoint at the top of a long, wooden pathway. 

While the photo-ops make it well worth the climb up, it’s definitely not easy—especially in the scorching heat the Galapagos Islands is known for.

Bartolome island in the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

After passing lava cacti and volcanic tubes which run down the cliff side, visitors who reach the top are treated to a spectacular view of Pinnacle Rock which is the most photographed spot in the entire Galapagos. Look closely, and you might spot sea lions and penguins at the base, and juvenile sharks swimming near the shore.

Be sure to stick around for sunset which is the most enchanting time of day, before heading back down the 374 steps to get back to the dock.

Bartolome island in the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

Sombrero Chino 

The area is also home to one of the best snorkeling areas: Sombrero Chino.

‘Chinese Hat’ is one of the best spots to see those famous Galapagos sharks, and this is the spot our expedition noticed a large shark circling our yacht for a few hours. It was slightly unnerving to say the least!

A shark swimming near Sombrero Chino in the Galapagos Islands
A shark swimming near Sombrero Chino

Visitors can access the island from a beautiful beach inhabited by Sally Lightfoot crabs and iguanas, and there are also lava lizards and sea lions. If you plan to explore the island, be sure to wear shoes with good soles since the lava fields can be rough.

Sombrero Chino in the Galapagos Islands
Sombrero Chino

Sombrero Chino is also home to huge turtles, massive stingrays and loads of tropical fish, and since it’s protected by nearby Santiago Island the channel is quite calm. The shallow, clear water also means you might be lucky enough to spot penguins, though you’ll have to keep a close eye out for the little buggers as they swim surprisingly fast.

A penguin swimming near Sombrero Chino in the Galapagos Islands

Despite being so close to Bartolome Island, Sombrero Chino does not receive as many visitors as other islands in the Galapagos as the park service restricts access to only a few ships to try and protect the fragile ecosystem.

A penguin on Sombrero Chino in the Galapagos Islands

While it’s most common to visit Bartolome island and Sombrero Chino as part of a week long trip with an operator like Ecoventura, it’s also possible to get to Bartolome as a day trip from Puerto Ayora. Click here to book

 

 

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