Genovesa (Tower)

Genovesa Island occupies about 14 km² and its maximum elevation is 64 m. The horse-shoe shaped island has a volcanic caldera whose wall has collapsed, forming the Great Darwin Bay, surrounded by cliffs. Lake Arcturus, filled with salt water, lies in the centre, and sediment within this crater lake is less than 6,000 years old.

Although no historical eruptions are known from Genovesa, there are relatively young lava flows on the flanks of the volcano. This outlying island is situated at the northeast part of the archipelago. Many cruises may not include it because of the long distance (at least an 8-hour trip each way). But if you have time and are a bird enthusiast, this island definitely is a must. It is the best place on the whole archipelago to observe a colony of red-footed booby. It is also home to sea lions as well as fur seals.

As you cross the equator on your way there, many cruises include “equator-baptisms” for passengers who have never crossed that line at sea before. Darwin Bay, on the south coast, is almost landlocked and surrounded by high cliffs. The water is filled with microscopic marine life and for that reason resembles green pea soup. Both visitor sites are located in this bay. Darwin Bay Beach is a coral beach where a 750 m trail takes you through more seabird colonies. There is also the possibility to take a panga (dinghy) that is often accompanied by sea lions. You get to see the cliffs from the seaward side, which are home to a large red-footed booby colony. The red-footed booby is the smallest kind of booby and the only one to actually build a nest up in trees or on the cliffs to protect it from predators.

Prince Philip’s Steps (El Barranco) is an extraordinary, steep path that leads through a seabird colony full of life, up to cliffs that are 25 m high. At the top the trail continues inland, passing more seabird colonies in a thin Palo Santo (Bursa Tree) forest. Leaving the forest you can overview a rocky plain. You get a view of masked and red-footed boobies, great frigate birds, swallow-tailed gulls, red-billed tropicbirds and hundreds of storm petrels at the edge of the cliff. The storm petrels here are different from any others in the world because they fly around during daytime. To avoid predators they only return to their nest holes at night. Genovesa also offers great snorkeling opportunities even though the water is a bit murky as close to the beach and the cliffs the vision is better. Because of its richness with food, the bay is often full of marine iguanas and even visited by young hammerhead sharks.