North Seymour Island

North Seymour Island is located just north of Baltra Island to the south, which is sometimes called South Seymour Island. Like its neighbor to the south, North Seymour Island is a small, flat island with desert vegetation such as cacti and salt bushes. Although the island is small, it is teeming with life, and a landing on North Seymour is highly recommended, especially if you want to see the largest colonies of frigate birds in the Galapagos.

Many cruises and boat tours will make a landing on North Seymour Island. After landing on the coast, you will have the opportunity to walk a beautiful 1.5-mile loop trail that explores both the coast and part of the inland part of North Seymour. On the coast, watch for the distinctive blue-footed boobies—a magical sight for many tourists hailing from North America or Europe (though the blue-footed boobies’ habitat extends through Peru and Mexico as well). These birds have, as their name would suggest, bright blue feet, and commonly nest on the rocky coast of the Galapagos Islands. You may see some fuzzy white chicks in the nesting grounds as well, depending on when you go.

As you hike the North Seymour trail (don't forget to bring good closed-toe hiking shoes) you will encounter the majestic frigate birds nesting around the road and sometimes even on the trail. These beautiful birds have shiny blue-black plumage, and the males have a distinctive red pouch below their hooked bills. If you visit during mating season, you may even be lucky enough to see one of these red pouches inflated almost to the size of a soccer ball as the males try to attract the trimmer, more svelte females.

Back at the coast you may be able to see some of the Galapagos sea lions, with their blunt noses and light colored skin. Also among the rocks of the coast live the marine iguanas, prehistoric-looking lizards that can grow up to three feet long. The similarly large land iguana lives in the inland areas, feasting on prickly pears. They have a yellow-orange belly and reddish back to distinguish them from the marine iguanas.

North Seymour also has some excellent dive sites if you wish to join a scuba diving tour. Your tour operator will head down to the beach in the south where there are a few dive sites with varying levels of difficulty. Be careful, as the currents can be strong, but there is such a diversity of marine wildlife in the waters that you will come away with lifelong memories. Fur seals, manta rays, garden eels, reef fish, sea turtles, sea lions, white tip reef sharks, and hammerhead sharks are all commonly seen in the waters around North Seymour Island.

In addition to these unique sights, brown pelicans and bright colored sally lightfoot crabs clustering around the lava rocks of the coast complete the experience. North Seymour may be a small island, but its wealth of biodiversity make it an essential stop during your Galapagos Islands vacation, and its small size makes it a manageable trip even to those unaccustomed to hiking.

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