South Plaza Island

South Plaza Island is one of two small crescent-shaped islands, located a few hundred meters off the east coast of Santa Cuz IslandOnly the southern part can be visited as the northern part of the island is reserved for scientific purposes.

South Plaza is one of the smallest but also the richest islands of the archipelago. Only 130 meters (426 feet) wide, it was formed by a tectonic massif that gave it the shape of an inclined plane. The unusual vegetation and location of the island create an interesting landscape that has enhanced the fauna and flora of the Galapagos

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On the other hand, despite its small size, some of the most interesting and exceptional species of the archipelago are found here. It is possible to guarantee the spotting of Land Iguanas which often remain in the shade of cacti. Swallow-tailed gulls often nest on the steep southern cliffs, where they can be seen along with a variety of seabirds. The protected rocky coastline is the main habitat of a large colony of noisy sea lions. The main attraction of Plazas are the land iguanas, sea lions and swallow-tailed gulls. You will also see yellow-tailed mullets, Audubon's hawks, red-billed tropicbirds, frigate birds and brown pelicans gliding over the reef.

Aterrizando en el canal entre las Plazas Norte y Sur, donde la isla desciende hacia el agua. ¡El acercamiento crea un espectáculo muy colorido! Las aguas turquesas del canal contrastan brillantemente con la lava negra de las orillas. En algunos lugares, sobre las rocas han crecido espesas algas verdes, salpicadas de zayapaz de color naranja brillante. Más arriba en la costa, una alfombra de plantas de hielo escarlata (Sesuvium) sirve como dosel para un bosque de cactus de color verde brillante. Iguanas terrestres de color amarillo grisáceo se sientan debajo, esperando pacientemente a que caigan las tunas.

The path gradually follows the slope of the island to the cliff overlooking the southern sea, where swallow-tailed gulls nest, Nazca Boobies and blue-footed boobies stroll among the wind currents. Passing along the cliff top, you will see lots of marine life, including manta rays. Sail to an inlet on the western corner of the island, where a colony of male sea lions, known as a bachelor site, has established itself. The oil from their skin that they leave on the rocks gives them a sheen and shine.

How to get to South Plaza Island?

Getting to South Plaza Island in the Galapagos from Quito or Guayaquil, Ecuador, requires a plane ride and then a boat trip. Here are two routes, one from Quito and one from Guayaquil:

From Quito to South Plaza Island

  1. Flight to Baltra or San Cristobal: Start by taking a flight from Mariscal Sucre International Airport in Quito to Seymour Airport in Baltra or to San Cristobal Airport. Most flights from Quito make stopovers in Guayaquil or Quito, so you may need to make a stopover before arriving in the Galapagos.
  2. Transit Control Card Payment: Upon arrival in the Galapagos Islands, you must pay an entrance fee and obtain a Transit Control Card at the airport. This is necessary to enter the Galapagos National Park. Discover the requirements to enter the Galapagos.
  3. Transfer to Puerto Ayora (Santa Cruz Island): If you arrived in Baltra, you will take a short ferry to Santa Cruz Island and then a land transfer to Puerto Ayora, which is the main starting point for tours in the Galapagos.
  4. Tour to South Plaza Island: Desde Puerto Ayora, puedes contratar un tour a la Isla Plaza Sur con operadores locales. Estos tours suelen incluir transporte en barco, guía turística y oportunidades para explorar la isla y su fauna única.

From Guayaquil to South Plaza Island

  1. Flight to Baltra or San Cristobal: As from Quito, start by taking a flight from José Joaquín de Olmedo International Airport in Guayaquil to Seymour Airport in Baltra or to San Cristóbal Airport in the islands.
  2. Transit Control Card Payment: Upon arrival to the Galapagos Islands, follow the same procedure as described on the route from Quito: pay the entrance fee and obtain the Transit Control Card at the airport.
  3. Transfer a Puerto Baquerizo Moreno (Isla San Cristóbal): If you arrived to San Cristobal, you will take a land transfer to Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, which is the main city in the island.
  4. Tour to South Plaza Island: From San Cristobal, you can book a tour to South Plaza Island with local operators. These tours offer the opportunity to explore the island and its unique wildlife.

Weather in South Plaza Island

The climate in South Plaza Island, as in the rest of the Galapagos Islands, is subtropical and is mainly influenced by its equatorial location and ocean currents. Here is some information about the climate in South Plaza Island:

  • Temperature: The average annual temperature on South Plaza Island tends to range from 22°C to 28°C (72°F to 82°F). During the warm season, which runs from December to May, temperatures tend to be higher, while the garúa season, from June to November, brings slightly cooler temperatures.
  • Seasons: As in the rest of the Galapagos, South Plaza Island has two main seasons: the warm season and the garúa season (light rainy season). The warm season is drier and sunnier, while the garúa season is cooler and wetter.
  • Rain: During the garúa season, the island may experience light rains and garúa, especially in the morning and on the south coast. However, these rains tend to be scarce compared to other parts of the world.
  • Winds: Wind is an important characteristic of the climate in the Galapagos. During the garúa season, the trade winds from the southeast are stronger, which influences sea conditions and navigation.
  • Activities: The choice of the season to visit South Plaza Island will depend on your preferences and activities. The warm season is ideal for diving and snorkeling due to the excellent underwater visibility. On the other hand, the garúa season is excellent for bird watching, as many species breed at this time.

Learn about the weather in the Galapagos Here.

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Flora and Fauna in South Plaza Island

South Plaza Island, one of the islands in the Galapagos archipelago, is a place of great interest for flora and fauna observation. Below, I provide you with information about the characteristic flora and fauna of South Plaza Island:

Flora in South Plaza Island

  1. Opuntia Cacti: Lava cacti, also known as Opuntia cacti, are one of the most prominent species on the island. These succulent, spiny cacti are an iconic feature of the landscape and can reach significant heights.
  2. Sesuvium: The coastal vegetation is dominated by Sesuvium, a succulent plant that changes color from green to bright red during the iguana breeding season.
  3. Scalesia: The genus of trees and shrubs endemic to Galapagos, known as scalesia, is found on South Plaza Island in various shapes and sizes.
  4. Black Sage Black sage (Lycium sp.) is a plant adapted to the dry conditions of the island and is prized for its silvery foliage and small flowers.
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Fauna In South Plaza Island

  1. Land Iguanas: South Plaza Island is home to a population of marine iguanas (Amblyrhynchus cristatus), a unique species that feeds on seaweed and is endemic to the Galapagos. You can observe them resting on the rocks or swimming in the surrounding waters.
  2. Sea Lions: On the beaches and rocks of the island, you can find sea lions resting, playing and socializing. They are a common and charismatic sight in the Galapagos.
  3. Sea Birds South Plaza Island is an important nesting site for seabirds, including blue-footed boobies and red-footed boobies, as well as frigate birds. You can observe their colonies and mating behavior during the right season.
  4. Land Tortoises: Although the island is not home to land tortoises, you may encounter them in nearby areas during some excursions.
  5. Aves playeras: The coast of South Plaza Island is an important site for the observation of migratory shorebirds that rest on the beach during their migratory routes.
  6. Red Crabs: Red crabs (Grapsus grapsus) are a common sight found on the rocks and beaches of South Plaza Island. Their bright red color is quite distinctive.
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The South Plaza Island offers a unique wildlife watching experience and an opportunity to explore the unique ecosystem of the Galapagos. Remember that when visiting this island, it is important to follow local regulations and the indications of the tour guides to preserve its beauty and biodiversity.

Actividades que puedes hacer en Isla Plaza Sur

Isla Plaza Sur, una de las islas Galápagos, ofrece a los visitantes la oportunidad de disfrutar de una variedad de actividades únicas y experiencias naturales. Aquí tienes algunas actividades que puedes hacer en Isla Plaza Sur:

  1. Observación de Fauna: Plaza Sur es conocida por su fauna única, que incluye iguanas terrestres, lobos marinos, aves marinas como piqueros de patas rojas y gaviotas de Galápagos. Disfruta de la observación de estas especies en su entorno natural.
  2. Hiking: Explora los senderos de la isla, que te llevan a través de paisajes impresionantes y te permiten acercarte a la vida silvestre. Asegúrate de seguir las indicaciones de los guías para minimizar tu impacto en el entorno.
  3. Snorkel: La vida marina alrededor de Plaza Sur es fascinante. Aprovecha la oportunidad de hacer snorkel y descubrir el mundo submarino, con posibilidad de nadar junto a coloridos peces, rayas y tal vez incluso tiburones.
  4. Fotografía de la Naturaleza: La isla ofrece escenarios naturales únicos que son ideales para la fotografía. Captura la belleza de los paisajes, la flora y la fauna, asegurándote de respetar las regulaciones de conservación.
  5. Interacción con Lobos Marinos: Plaza Sur es hogar de una colonia de lobos marinos. Puedes observar su comportamiento desde una distancia segura, pero ten en cuenta que es importante no perturbar su hábitat natural.
  6. Aprendizaje sobre la Conservación: Muchas excursiones a Isla Plaza Sur incluyen la oportunidad de aprender sobre los esfuerzos de conservación en las Galápagos y la importancia de preservar este frágil ecosistema.
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This content was made by

Domenica
Domenica

Galapagos travel specialist

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