Bartolomé Island, located off the east shore of Sullivan Bay, is a small but beautiful spot most famous for its iconic Pinnacle Rock, which is arguably one of the most recognizable landmarks in the Galapagos. The staggering rock face is an eroded lava formation that was originally created by an underwater volcano.
Visitors can hike to the summit of Bartolomé Island via a roughly 2,000-foot-long (600-meter-long) trail and enjoy views of Pinnacle Rock, Sullivan Bay, an Isla San Salvador (or Santiago). You can also visit the island’s north beach for wonderful snorkeling opportunities and to swim among beautiful fish and Galapagos penguins. Alternatively, visit the south shore to see white-tipped sharks, spotted eagle rays, and stingrays.
Things to Know Before You Go
- To reach the highest point on the island, you’ll need to climb a steep wooden stairway.
- There is no swimming allowed on the island’s southern shore.
- You may swim alongside sea lions while snorkeling, but be sure to stay clear of the larger males as they can be aggressive.
- Keep an eye out for the green sea turtles, especially if you’re visiting during mating season (typically November to January).
How to Get There
Most guided tours to Bartolomé Island depart from Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz. From the port, you can take a ferry or a yacht across the Itabaca Channel; the journey takes about two hours. To reach the Galapagos, fly from Quito or Guayaquil to the islands’ main airport, located on Baltra.
When to Get There
If you plan to visit during peak season, be sure to book tours in advance. Peak season in the Galapagos coincides with most travelers’ vacation periods: mid-June through early September and mid-December through early January. If you visit in February, you probably won’t be able to spot any penguins as they migrate from Bartolomé to Isabela Island and Fernandina Island during that period. The penguins on Bartolomé are the most active in September.
Staying on a Boat or on Land?
Most of the islands in the Galapagos are uninhabited, and accommodation options on land are almost all located on Santa Cruz and San Cristobal. You can island hop from either of these spots via guided day trips. Alternatively, book a multi-day tour aboard a boat, which will follow either a northern or southern route through the islands and include land excursions along the way.