The northernmost island with visitor sites, Genovesa is small, with steep rocky cliffs that are flat on top and covered with legions of sea birds. This is the best place to see red-footed boobies—in fact, visitors will likely bump into several nesting in trees after they climb up from Darwin Bay on the steep lava rocks known as Prince Philip's Steps. (The steps were named after the husband of Queen Elizabeth II, the Duke of Edinburgh, whose visits in 1965 and 1981 helped stimulate interest in preserving the Galapagos.)

The island, also known as Tower, has a trail leading from the top of the steps along the shoreline. There are often clusters of sea birds on the ground and flying overhead at every turn. Varieties include Nazca boobies, short-eared owls, great frigate birds, swallow-tailed gulls, shearwaters, herons, Galapagos doves and thousands of screeching storm petrels. The conspicuous male frigate birds puff out their scarlet throat pouches like balloons to attract females. Genevosa is one of two islands, along with Fernandina, that does not have introduced mammals and has remained relatively untouched by humans.

The scenery is spectacular, too, with waves crashing against the rocky shore and water spraying up through blowholes. The cliffs around the island are so alive with sea birds that most ships also offer panga tours for close-up views. There's also a beach at Darwin Bay where visitors can snorkel and possibly see hammerhead sharks, turtles, sea lions and the occasional manta ray.

Request Full Destination Guide

To request access to the full version of this destination guide, please provide your email address below. Your email address will only be used for verification purposes and will not be used for marketing purposes.