Travel guide to Ecuador’s Puna Island

Located off the coast of southern Ecuador, at the head of the Gulf of Guayaquil, Puna Island is not technically a part of the Galapagos Archipelago. Spanning an area of 855 square kilometres, it is a protected area, known for its great mangroves and great biodiversity.

It is close to Ecuador’s largest city and chief port Guayaquil. Most of the island’s 1,000 inhabitants, the Tumbez people, live in the village of Puná. Most of them are either shell collectors or fishermen, and there is even a fishing resort on the island. There are also basic campsites and cabins in Bellavista and Cauchiche.

Known For

The coconuts on Puna Island in the Galapagos
The coconuts on Puna Island in the Galapagos

Puna Island has a rich and fascinating history. In the 16th century, it was a stopping point for Spanish conquistadors. In 1531 it witnessed the Battle of Puna, where the Spanish fought the Tumbez Indians who lived there. The Tumbez people won, and their descendants still inhabit the island.

Puna Island is also known for its volcanic activity. Tourists are allowed to witness these activities, under proper guidance. In addition to this, the island has many points of attraction that bring in visitors from all over the world.

Things to do

Lava
Puna Island is known for its volcanic activity

Tourists can take a number of different trips to explore the island. Here are some of the places that you must visit on Puna Island:

  • Volcanic Activity: view lava flowing into the sea at the end of highway 30. But, you must be at the point between 5 pm to 8 pm since this is the only time window allowed to witness volcanic activities.
  • MacKenzie Park:  this park provides a mesmerizing view of the Pacific Ocean. Spend some time under the shade of the ironwood trees.
  • Lava Tree State Park: explore the patterns formed by lava and tropical vegetation here.
  • The Catholic Church “Star of the Sea”: also called Painted Church, this church on Puna Island was shifted from its original position in 1990 owing to lava flow.

This is just a short list of things you can do on Puna Island. Also, try meeting some of the local islanders and have some of the island delicious fresh coconuts.  

Other Important Points

  • Citizens of some countries, mostly North American and European, don’t need a visa if they’re planning to stay in Ecuador for 90 days or less.
  • Staying at Puna Island will cost you anywhere between $100 and $200 a day.
  • People with respiratory problems must be careful if planning to visit the island due to generated from volcanic eruptions.
  • Mst prices on the island are fixed, but you can bargain with prices at the market.

Read more: The islands of the Galapagos.

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