One of the iconic species of Galapagos that can be spotted at Chinese Hat isle is the equatorial penguin, not just the ones you see on Animal Planet, you could think that if you have seen one, you have seen them all. But this isn’t so. The Galapagos Penguins warbling across the scenic plain of this cone shaped island is something rare and enchanting, it is endemic and the smallest of its species. This one of a kind Island is one of the most curious places in the archipelago, because of the funny shape of the Island when seen from afar. The shape is that of a Chinese hat turned upside down, and it is best approached from the North from where the shape of the oriental head ornament is best observed. Boat captains are quite skilled and will take this unique approach to ensure their guests enjoy the magic scenery.
The Chinese Hat Island is located at the southernmost part of its neighbor Santiago Island. Marine iguanas, sea lions, penguins, lava lizards and eagles are active across this small patch of land. The scenery alone makes it worth the visit to this unique isle. The adventurous eagles glide over the blue waters and make for the best scenes to watch. The island is hardly one square kilometer in size, but it is one of the most beautiful strips of land and sea ever seen together.
For those who are in wait to see sea lions, there is a cove right here and can be seen as soon as the tour boats drop anchor. If one is ready to make the wet landing and has the adventurous spirit within them, then picking up the 400-meter long trail on foot is a great way to spot the sea lions and the iguanas. One can even go swimming or snorkeling in the blue waters.
For visitors, this is one of those sites best enjoyed with the narrative of your naturalist guide. It is a popular cruise landing site on all central Island itineraries. Be sure to carry a camera to take pictures of marine iguanas, several species of birds and even the natural beauty of the cove. The really good photographer would enjoy the challenge of capturing the cone shape of the island from afar.
This cone is a formation that comes from recent volcanic activity and is a pretty interesting study from the geological point of view as well.
Landing: Wet Landing
Wildlife Highlights: Galapagos penguins, Galapagos hawks, lava lizards, sea turtles, marine iguanas, mockingbirds, sea lions, shorebirds, sea turtles
Activity Highlights: Hiking, birdwatching, swimming and snorkeling
Conditions: Hot and Rocky bring sandles and good shoes and extra water.
Conditions vary at the different visitor sites, the walk is almost level ground, a part on sand and a part on the lava field.
Notes: The walk along the trail brings travelers up close to the vessuvium (red flowers) which constrasted with the lava flows and turqoise waters in the bay creates a beautiful backdrop for photography. The hike lasts an aproximate 45 minutes as it leads to the rocky side of the island where you can observe a cliff with sea birds fluttering around. If you have the opportunity swim with sea lions and sea turtles in the bay. The water is clear and is a beautiful turqouise blue. Common companions as you swim are sea lions, tropical fish, marine iguanas, sea turtles, reef sharks and there is a small colony of equatorial penguins that fearlessly swim up to visitors, almost kiss their masks and dart away again playfully.
Central and Western Galapagos Islands cruise on board the Seaman Journey - 8 days
Galapagos yacht tour exploring the center and north of the archipelago - 6 days
Budget friendly Galapagos trip to the central islands on board the Darwin Yacht - 5 days
Central Islands voyage including a visit to Chinese Hat on board Nemo II - 4 days