One of the smallest islands, Bartolome is also one of the most visited. That's because it is a short distance from Santiago Island and one of the few places where visitors can see the Galapagos penguins. It also has a hiking trail that leads to a volcanic peak offering spectacular views of the islands.

Hikers can observe the volcanic history of the island—different types of lava flows, as well as pioneer plants that have begun to grow amid the barren rocks. The hike takes less than an hour and includes climbing wooden steps installed to prevent further erosion. From the top, hikers can see Pinnacle Rock, which resembles a craggy black finger pointing to the sky. The panoramic view from the volcano is one of the most famous and most photographed in the archipelago.

Most tours include a stop at the beach near Pinnacle Rock to swim and view the penguins, which are the only species of penguin north of the equator. Although they are small, they are extremely fast underwater. Snorkeling around the rock is a good way to view whitetip reef sharks, colorful fish and sea turtles.

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