Travel Guide To Ecuador’s Pinzon Island

Pinzon Island in the Galapagos Archipelago is a delightful little island with white sandy beaches and sparkling blue waters. This island paradise is also the perfect diving spot to swim with schools of fish, dolphins, sea turtles and eagle rays.

Also called Duncan Island, it is the twelfth largest Galapagos island. The island is in the geographical centre of the archipelago and has some interesting geological features. It has steep rock formations on one side and pristine sandy beaches on the other.

History of Pinzon Island

The island was named after the Pinzon brothers who captained Columbus’s ships, the Pinta and the Nina. Its other name, Duncan Island, is after the 18th century English Admiral after Adam Duncan, the first Viscount Duncan.

The arrival of European sailors devastated the wildlife of Pinzon Island, just like much of the Galapagos. They brought non-native rats, which caused major destruction, especially to the island’s tortoises. They would eat newly hatched baby tortoises, severely depleting the population.

The island undertook two major eradication projects in 1988 and 2012, with the latter finally being successful. The island’s tortoise population is slowly returning to normal.

The Island Flora and Fauna

A fully grown Galapagos Giant Tortoise in the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador.
A fully grown Galapagos Giant Tortoise in the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador.

The humid climate of Pinzon Island means that it doesn’t have the two most prominent trees of the Galapagos, Palo Santo and Scalesia. Instead, a unique variety of the Daisy tree is native to the island. However, most of the island is quite arid and devoid of vegetation.

Pinzon Island is filled with diverse wildlife, making it a treat for visitors. The island hosts a large colony of Sea Lions and also of the Galapagos Tortoise. It is also home to numerous species of tropical birds such as pelicans, boobies, short-eared owls and Darwin’s finches.

What to Do on Pinzon Island

The arid nature of the Pinzon Island makes it difficult for any vegetation to thrive on the island, and much of the wildlife is protected. Hence, the island is off limits to tourists. Scientists can visit these centres, but they need a special permit. However, the waters around the island are home to a marine tortoise reserve and seal rookery. 

Scuba Diving and Snorkelling
Turtle swimming across a school of fish in Galapagos - Pinzon Island
Turtle swimming across a school of fish in Galapagos

While the perfect sandy beaches of Pinzon Island are off limits to tourists, its clear sparkling waters are a key tourist spot.

The area around this island offers beautiful scuba and snorkelling spots and the high cliffs on the island present a perfect diving spot for divers. You can spot rays, Galapagos penguins, Galapagos sharks, and white tip sharks among others. You can book day tours to the island. These tours take you to the best spots to do scuba diving or snorkelling. 

More Tips For An Amazing Trip

The Galapagos don’t have any direct flights from any international location. You need to travel to Ecuador and then fly to any of the main islands. Landing anywhere on Pinzon Island is very difficult due to the collapsed volcano and the high cliffs. The best option is to stay in any of the main islands and then take a cruise or island-hopping tours.

On the other hand, you can also book an island-hopping tour. These are usually 4–5 days, where you can visit different islands in the archipelago.

Read more: The other Islands of the Galapagos.


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