Barrington Island, also known as Santa Fe Island, is a small island, just about nine miles square, in the Galapagos archipelago. An uninhabited island, it is a popular day trip for visitors to the Galapagos to view some of the unique vegetation and animal species on Barrington Island.
Barrington Island is a two- to three-hour boat ride from Santa Cruz Island, where most tourists will have their base of exploration. Santa Cruz is home to the Charles Darwin Research Center and the city of Puerto Ayora; thus it also has many of the islands’ hotels. Many tours and cruises make a trip to Barrington Island (which is marked on many maps as Santa Fe Island, so don’t get confused) early in the morning, allowing you to explore the island and walk the trails during the day. Be prepared for a "wet landing"—the boats will not be able to drop you off on land, so you may need to take a smaller boat up to the beach, and you may get your feet wet in the process.
As you approach Barrington Island, you will notice forests of gigantic prickly pear cactus. These are unlike any prickly pear cactus you may have seen in the American southwest. These cacti are huge—called the Giant Opuntia cactus, this type is famous in the Galapagos Islands, and they are also among the largest trees on the Islands.
This is also a great destination for anyone interested in the wildlife. Upon your landing in Barrington Bay, you will most likely encounter large numbers of sea lions resting and playing on the beach. These Galapagos sea lions are one of the unique species present only in the Galapagos, and they are especially friendly and social. It is possible to go snorkeling or kayaking with these friendly creatures, but be sure to go with a trusted guide. Be especially careful to steer clear of the sea lions when the bulls are around, as they can be aggressive.
From the beautiful white sand beach of Barrington Bay, you can head further into Santa Fe Island by way of a couple of trails. Barrington Island is geologically quite flat, so though the trail is a bit rough (remember—the island is uninhabited due to there being no source of fresh water) it is not terribly strenuous. Along the walk you will be able to see more of the island's unique wildlife, including the Barrington land iguana, which is endemic to this island. The Barrington land iguana differs from the other Galapagos land iguanas by having a spiky crest along its back. You may be somewhat less enthusiastic to see the Santa Fe rice rat if you're afraid of rodents, but this little creature is another species unique to this small island.
There are a number of other unique animals on Barrington Island that are only found in the Galapagos, such as the Galapagos snake, the Galapagos hawk, several species of finches, and the Galapagos mockingbird. Most of the wildlife on Santa Fe Island are not afraid of humans, but be careful not to disturb them too much, as many are rare or endangered species. The Barrington land iguana, for instance, has seen numbers decreasing annually for the past several years.