South Plaza Island Travel

One of the smallest islands in the Galapagos, South Plaza is where to find the extraordinary Hybrid Iguana, along with a colony of Sea Lions keeping it company.

The Plazas are made up of two small islets, not far from the coast of the popular island of Santa Cruz. While South Plaza is open to visitors, North Plaza is used for vital research purposes so access is prohibited. However, despite its tiny size South Plaza is as biodiverse as any of the larger islands in the archipelago. Over a thousand Sea Lions have colonised South Plaza, along with both Marine and Land Iguanas, Swallow-tailed Gulls and the elegant Red-billed Tropicbird. This islet may be small but it certainly makes for an interesting visit.

Being the result of a geological uplift, South Plaza Island does not have the height that some of its neighbours benefit from but its low-lying landscape – peppered with Prickly Pear Cactus and a covering of colourful Sesuvium – makes this tiny patch of land a popular haunt for a variety of wildlife.

Until recently, a population of rogue mice had decimated the Cactus across the island, which in turn had adverse effects on the endemic Land Iguanas who love nothing more than indulging on the fruits of these plants. Thanks to dedicated work from the conservation team, these mice are now nowhere to be seen and the Land Iguana is growing in numbers again, with roughly 300 now living here. So much so that you may come across a rare hybrid reptile – a combination of the Land and Marine Iguana. At less than one square mile in size, it won’t take long to explore South Plaza, but that doesn’t take away from its charm. Nazca and Blue-footed Boobies can often be seen here as you follow the short trail from the beach, up the slight incline amid the vegetation to the highest point on the island. South Plaza is a very special island in its own unique way and definitely worth a quick visit.

Highlights of South Plaza Island:

Look out for Hybrid Iguanas

The size of South Plaza Island means that the two types of Iguanas live in very close proximity to each other, resulting in these hybrid lizards. They are rare so you will be very fortunate to see one, keeping your eyes peeled is a must!

Admire the Sea Lions

South Plaza is home to a friendly bunch of Sea Lions. Lounging on the rocky shores in the sunshine, they are easy to spot. After exploring the island, return to the beach and spend some time sitting with these magnificent marine mammals.

Enjoy some birdwatching

Although sometimes rocky underfoot, it is an easy walk across the visitor trail on South Plaza, leading you to the clifftops which play host to a variety of shore birds. These outcrops are a haven for Swallow-tailed Gulls, Boobies and Tropicbirds, fascinating to behold.

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