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Also known as Tower, Genovesa is in the northeastern extreme of the archipelago, north of the equator. Because it's so remote, it's impossible to go there on a day-trip from Santa Cruz or San Cristobal: you'll have to take a cruise. If you are interested in seabirds and exciting snorkeling opportunities, you may want to prioritize this island on your itinerary when selecting cruises.

Genovesa covers 14 km2 and is fairly flat and round, with a large, almost landlocked cove on the south side called Darwin Bay. During the dingy ride from your boat to the first visitor site, Prince Philip’s Steps, you will have a good view of red-billed tropicbirds, great frigatebirds, swallow-tailed gulls, Nazca boobies, and red-footed boobies flying, fishing, and potentially nesting in cracks in the seaward side of the cliff.

A dry landing leads you to the base of Prince Philip’s Steps, a steep, rocky path up the 25-meter cliff face. At the top of the cliffs, the 1 km-long trail leads inland through palo santo vegetation, where the red-footed boobies may be nesting, colonies of seabirds, and an expanse of lava where short-eared owls, Galápagos swallows, Galápagos doves, and storm petrels can often be seen. This is an amazing site for bird enthusiasts. But be sure to watch your head for the inevitable guano shower!

The second visitor site, Darwin Bay, is a white-sand beach accessed by a wet landing. Here a .75 km trail passes through mangrove patches frequented by land birds as well as colonies of Nazca boobies, red-footed boobies, and swallow-tailed gulls. Further along the trail, beautiful tide pools house the occasional playful sea lion, and cliffs offer an amazing view of the island and the sea.

Because of the steep underwater terrain of Genovesa, snorkeling conditions can vary. If you like to dive and can hold your breath for extended periods of time, you may see interesting bottom-dwellers, tropical fish found only in the northern archipelago, or even a hammerhead shark. However, if you are uncomfortable in the water, you may be disappointed by the marine life visible from the surface.

Here are some related tips to help plan your trip to Galápagos Island Visitor Sites: North Seymour Island, Santiago, Mosquera Islet, Bartolomé, Marchena, Baltra, Southern Island Visitor Sites, Isabela, Northern Visitor Sites and Española.

24 Aug 2010

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