Rábida Island

Rabida Island

To the south of Santiago Island, Rábida is one of the most volcanically varied islands in the archipelago. Originally named for the 18th-century British admiral John Jervis, the island’s now Ecuadorian name is Isla Rábida, named after the convent of Rábida, where Columbus left his son during his voyage to the Americas. Rábida is a relatively small, arid island with steep slopes. Most of the coastline is rocky with the exception of a beach on the northeast side. Several small volcanic craters and the high amount of iron in the lava give the island the distinctive red color it’s known for.

Rábida has just one visitors site which is reached by a wet landing just off the vibrant red sand beach. Sea lions and iguana are often resting in the sands, or seeking the shade of the caves in the towering cliffs at the sands edge to the right of the beach and brown Pelicans nest in the salt brush to the left. Blue-footed and Nazca Boobies frequent the cliffs above.

Rabida Island

From there, a short trail leads to a saltwater lagoon that, at times, is a feeding and breeding area for flamingos. These large pink or reddish birds live in shallow saltwater lagoons and feed 7-12 hrs each day, primarily on the pink shrimp larva and water boatmen that give them their color. The number of flamingos on Rábida has varied over the years and in some years they have seemed to be absent all together. Pintail Ducks and Common Stilts are also frequenters of the lagoon.

The trail continues inland, exploring common nesting areas for land birds such as finches, Galapagos Doves, Yellow Warblers, and mockingbirds, as well as the occasional snake. The vegetation consists mainly of Opuntia cacti, Palo Santo trees, and scrubby bushes. Both swimming and snorkeling are allowed from the beach and is a great time to interact with the playful sea lion and occasion curious pelican.

Around the northern tip of Rábida, divers can observe sea lions, sea turtles, Eagle Rays, Garden Eels, and occasionally sharks and penguins. There is also a small colony of fur seals at Rábida.


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