Although it was formed 1,5 to 2 million years old, Bartolome is one of the youngest islands in Galapagos. With a lunar appearance and predominant shades of orange, red and green, it’s considered one of the most beautiful islands in the Archipelago. Named after Sir Bartholomew James Sullivan, a naturalist friend of Charles Darwin with whom he sailed on HMS Beagle, Bartolome is actually an extinct volcano. It’s main attraction, a sharp volcanic cone called Pinnacle Rock is one of the most famous landmarks in Galapagos.
Tips&Tricks: Pinnacle Rock was formed over 1 million years ago, after the eruption of an underwater volcano. A small cave behind it serves as home to a colony of Galapagos penguins.
Top Guided Tours and Activities (our favorite choices)
With its highest elevation at 114 meters, Bartolome offers the most beautiful panorama in Galapagos. To reach the top of the island, a wooden boardwalk consisting of 372 stairs was built to protect the soil against erosion. The hike takes about 45 minutes, but when you arrive at the famous viewpoint you’ll find yourself surrounded by breathtaking landscapes that will make you feel out of this planet. Entirely made of lava rocks, the island is covered with short, endemic vegetation.
One day Guided Tour on Bartolome Island
When planning your Bartolome itinerary, you can choose between several different types of Galapagos cruises or day trips from the inhabited islands of Santa Cruz, San Cristobal or Isabela. The price for a one-day tour is around USD350, but it might vary depending on the season, and usually includes a guided hike and a few snorkeling stops, as well as lunch on the boat. During the almost 3 hours we spent from Santa Cruz to the island, the boat crew also spoiled us with some delicious breakfast and refreshments while enjoying a beautiful ocean view.
There are two landing sites on Bartolome. Our trip involved a dry landing, meaning that we had to climb into an inflatable boat, then jump on some concrete stairs built where the waves are crashing on high lava rocks. In case you disembark on the beach next to the Pinnacle Rock, you also need to be prepared for a wet landing.
Bartolome is an incredible spot to observe marine wildlife, and one of the few islands in the Archipelago where you can swim with Galapagos penguins. In the nearby bay, close to the Pinnacle Rock, we encountered a few sharks, sea lions, one lobster, so many beautiful starfish and colorful tropical fish.
What to pack for a tour on Bartolome Island
Because we booked a full-day guided tour that includes hiking more than 300 stairs (that can be challenging on a hot day) and snorkeling, we had to be prepared for both activities. Two medium-sized waterproof backpacks were really important to keep our items safe, in case of bad weather. In them, we took our water bottles, underwater camera, binoculars (because we love bird watching), sunglasses, SPF sunscreen (necessary throughout the day, even if it’s rainy or cloudy), towels, trekking clothes, wide-brimmed hats, and our snorkeling equipment consisting of 22mm thick neoprene wetsuits, snorkeling shoes and full-face masks.