Rábida Island – A True Gem among Galápagos Treasures

Ecuador’s Galápagos archipelago is world-renowned for its incredible biodiversity, attracting thousands of visitors each year. Santiago is one of the islands most visited by tour groups, but many other islands are well worth exploring. Located south of Santiago, the geology of Isla Rábida makes it stand out from the other Galápagos Islands, in that it consists primarily of spatter-cone volcanic lava and eroded hills in spectacular shades of red and brown. Visitors to Isla Rábida will land on the island’s northern beach with its unusual maroon-colored sand. Upon arrival, they are likely to see sea lions and marine iguanas lazing in and around the nearby caves. Brown pelicans can be spotted nesting in the vegetation just inland from the beach, while masked and blue-footed boobies nest on the cliffs above.

Isla Rábida, also known as Rábida Island or Jervis Island (after John Jervis – an 18th century British admiral), is believed to be the only island where visitors have the opportunity to get an up-close view of brown pelicans. The island is also known to have the best lagoons in the Galápagos for observing flocks of pink flamingos as they feed throughout the day on the rich supplies of shrimp larva and water boatman – a type of aquatic insect. Flamingoes get their beautiful pink coloring from the shrimp larva that forms the major part of their diet. Other birds to be found feeding at the lagoons include black-winged stilts and Bahama pintail ducks.

After visiting the lagoon, visitors will follow a path leading up the red colored rocky cliffs and ending at a cliff overhang offering an awe-inspiring view of the island’s cove, the lagoon, the ocean and the red colored cliffs. Vegetation on the island includes Palo Santo (translated from Spanish as ‘holy wood’) trees and Galápagos cactus, which is endemic to the Galápagos Islands and an essential element in the archipelago’s ecosystem.

Tours to Rábida Island usually include the opportunity to do some snorkeling off the beach, where snorkelers stand a good chance of observing Galápagos dolphins, bottle-nosed dolphins, manta rays and sharks in the abundance of underwater life. Certainly, Isla Rábida has plenty to offer in Ecuador’s treasure trove of natural wonders.