Hood (or Española) is the seventh biggest and the Southernmost island of the Galapagos, with a land area of 23 square miles - about two-thirds the size of Manhattan. It is relatively low-lying - only 675 feet above sea level at maximum elevation.
The island is named after an English admiral, Viscount Samuel Hood. The Ecuadorians call it Española, after the country of Spain.
Many visitors to the Galapagos rate Hood as their favorite island. Because of its isolation, it has a high proportion of endemic fauna. Here the extroverted Mockingbirds sit on top of visitor’s hats, peck at their feet and investigates their belongings. A visit to the island normally begins in the morning with a visit to Gardner Beach, and in the afternoon the boat sails west around the island for a walk around Punta Suarez.
The Hood Mockingbird and Waved Albatross are found here and nowhere else in the world. Recently, the Galapagos National Park Service has successfully reintroduced the islands' unique race of giant tortoises. They had been reduced to a mere thirteen individuals, all of which were removed and then bred in captivity (at Charles Darwin Research Station on Santa Cruz) until sufficient hatchlings had grown big enough to survive on their own in the wild. The reintroduced tortoises have begun to breed, reestablishing the population - a Galapagos success story.
Punta Suarez is one of the most popular and attractive visits of the Galapagos. The quantity and variety of wildlife at this site is remarkable. When landing, young sea lions surf the breaking waves, while a few steps inland groups of the Española variety of iguanas bask in the sun. Further inland, Masked and Blue-footed Boobies nest almost right on the trail, Galapagos Doves peck around unaware of visitors and finches go about their business in the bushes. The trail continues toward the cliffs and the blowhole, a fissure in the lava where water spurts high in the air like a geyser.
The cracks in the rock are home to the attractive Swallow-tailed Gulls and Red-billed Tropicbirds. Further up the cliff, in an area of low-lying trees, is the only place where the Waved Albatross nests, and in fact, the 10 to 12,000 pairs of albatrosses on Hood are all the individuals of this species that exist on the planet. They perform one of the most spectacular rituals of the animal world. Watching these large birds (up to 1 meter high / 3.3 feet) take off is another unforgettable moment. The albatrosses clumsily wobble to the edge of the cliff and launch themselves against the wind to be transformed into gracious flying creatures.
|Area:||23 square miles (60 square kilometers)|
|Maximum Altitude:||676 feet (206 meters)|
|Geographic Features:||Oldest island (3.4 million years old). Because it is arid and has no fresh water source, it is basically uninhabitable by humans, though a haven for sea birds.|
|Getting There:||Private tour.|
|Getting Around:||There is one path to follow, although you need to be with a guide.|
|Major Sites:||Punta Suarez, Gardner Bay|
|Fauna:||Saddleback Tortoises, Marine Iguanas, Lava Lizards, Sally Lightfoot Crab, Waved Albatross, Red-billed Tropic Bird, Hood Mockingbirds, Blue-footed Boobies, Masked Boobies, Galapagos Dove, Large Cactus Finch and a kaleidoscope of sea life.|
|Activities:||Walks. Beach snorkeling (in deep water, experience is required), Scuba diving, bird watching tours.|