South Plaza is a small island off the east coast of Santa Cruz. The small size of the island combined with interesting geology, fl ora and fauna make it a defi nitive highlight for cruise travelers or for day trippers from Puerto Ayora.
There is a dry landing onto a shore covered with white rocks, polished to a brilliant sheen by the oily sea lions as they travel up and down the shore. A one-kilometer (0.62 mi) trail circuit leads you through an opuntia cactus forest frequented by land iguanas, Yellow Warblers and finches. There is also a land/marine iguana hybrid that has been hanging out at the beginning of the trail since 2003, but it is only rarely seen. South Plaza is one of the best places to see land iguanas in Galapagos.
The trail continues along a 25-meter (82 ft) high cliff, which provides excellent vistas of neighboring Santa Cruz as well as sights of numerous sea birds.
You may also see a conspicuous line of mullets swimming offshore and, if you are lucky, a shark or two lurking in the rocks below or a manta ray jumping in the distance.
Further east along the trail, you will encounter a sea lion bachelor colony, where males defeated in the battle for territory kick back for a bit before returning to challenge once again.
The final part of the trail passes through a sea lion nursery, where you may see newborn pups (if arriving in October-December) or playful juveniles (February-April).
Here are some related tips to help plan your trip to Gal├ípagos Island Visitor Sites: Isabela, Le├│n Dormido/Kicker Rock, Floreana, Sombrero Chino, Fernandina, Mosquera Islet, Genovesa, Western Island Visitor Sites, Santa Cruz and R├íbida.