- 0.13 sq km / 0.05 sq mi.
- Boat trip: 1 hour, each way
- Positioned just off the eastern coast of Santa Cruz Island.
- Walking difficulty: Easy
As you disembark on the tiny island of South Plaza – essentially a big rock in the middle of the ocean – you are greeted by a large colony of sea lions on the stone jetty. You might have to make your way round them to actually set foot on the island!
Walking among prickly cactus and beds of bright scarlet succulent plants, land iguanas appear left and right, as do marine iguanas. The island is so small that the two species have little choice but to share the land. Unlike on other islands where the marine iguanas stick to the shoreline and the land iguanas to the dry interiors, on South Plaza the two species are forced to ‘mingle’. Even their breeding seasons, which are usually distinct from each other, coincide on South Plaza. These unique set of circumstances have led to intergeneric breeding between (the more aggressive) male marine iguanas and female land iguanas. The result being a hidden, hybrid iguana. First spotted in 1977 by professor Howard Snell, this odd-looking, and presumably sterile specimen remains a rare find to this day. Indeed, South Plaza is the only island in the Galapagos where hybrid iguanas have ever been discovered.
Reaching the wind-swept, dramatic cliffs, red-billed tropicbirds, swallow-tailed gulls and brown noddy terns glide on the currents as the waves crash below: a true Galapagos exploration.
After your visit, there’s a chance to snorkel and swim in a nearby cove, hopefully meeting sea lions, turtles and myriad fish, and maybe even a white-tip reef shark or two.
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