The Galapagos Islands are one of the most stunningly diverse archipelagos in the world. So stunning, in fact, that the 19 islands and their surrounding marine reserve are on the UNESCO World Heritage list because of the unique quality of preserved wildlife and incredible range of scenery.
With so much natural beauty on offer ranging from volcanic planes to dense, tropical rainforests, it is no surprise that visitors to the Galapagos are busy snapping and uploading photos of the islands onto Instagram.
Now, Touring Galapagos, an exclusive holiday provider for the destination, has found out which of the islands are the ‘most Instagrammed’ to identify which Galapagos locations are the most favoured by travellers for their photogenic qualities.
Santa Cruz - 172,442
With 172,442 tagged photos, Santa Cruz is the clear winner for most-Instagrammed island in the Galapagos. As the biggest tourist hub in the archipelago, it’s not really surprising that the largest number of travellers have been taking photos of the scenery and attractions here, from giant tortoises to lava tunnels and mangrove forests.
There are six different vegetation zones in Santa Cruz; the largest range of any of the islands, so there are plenty of different natural habitats to explore and document on camera. Tortuga Bay and its protected population of birds, reptiles and sea creatures is a particularly popular spot, as is Carrion Point lagoon with its range of brilliant snorkelling spots.
San Cristóbal - 75,572
San Cristóbal is the easternmost island in the Galapagos and also one of the oldest of the whole area. Formed of several extinct volcanoes that fused together over time, the landscape here is dramatic and varied with plenty of beaches, lagoons, and impressive rock formations all providing ample locations for holiday snapshots.
It’s also the second most popular travel destination in the archipelago, with 75,572 photos tagged here on Instagram. Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, the capital of the Galapagos, is found on San Cristóbal, and the island is also famous for being the first place that biologist Charles Darwin arrived at when he visited and was inspired to write his influential book The Origin of Species.
Floreana - 11,643
Floreana is a Galapagos island with a rich and varied history, including stories of smugglers, pirates, whalers, ambitious early colonisers and even murderers. It’s the third most Instagrammed location in the archipelago with 11,643 tagged photos, many of which feature the iconic Galapagos flamingos that can be spotted in their hundreds at Cormorant Point on the northern tip of the island.
Snorkelling is also a very popular pastime for visitors to Floreana, particularly at the Devil's Crown lagoon which is one of the best spots for diving and underwater exploration in the entire archipelago. Post Office Bay is another famous site and key tourist attraction, originally used by whalers to send letters back home to loved ones and still in use by travellers today who can leave postcards at the location in the hope that another visitor will deliver it for them.
Isabela - 6,149
Isabela island is famous for having the largest landmass of any of the locations in the Galapagos and has been tagged in 6,149 photos by Instagram users. Formed of five different extinct volcanoes that have fused together, it’s bigger than all of the other islands put together and is home to some of the area’s most exciting species, attracting plenty of visitors who want to come and spot rare birds and reptiles.
Galapagos penguins are perhaps the most famous of Floreana’s inhabitants, which can be found mostly on the west coast of the island. Other exciting species include five kinds of giant tortoise, marine iguanas and flightless cormorants, which only live and nest in one other location in the Galapagos.
North Seymour - 3,691
Despite its small size and lack of any permanent human population, North Seymour is a very popular location in the Galapagos islands that is also the fifth most Instagrammed part of the archipelago. The landscape is quite flat and dry in comparison to other parts of the area, but this makes it a perfect place for reptiles and a large colony of the famous blue-footed boobies, which bring numerous groups of tourists to the island in the spring to watch their unique mating dance. Sea lions and marine iguanas are also plentiful on North Seymour, and it’s a great spot for snorkelling because of the cold currents formed by the surrounding topography.
Santiago - 3,407
Santiago is one of the most volcanic islands in the Galapagos, giving it some of the most dramatic landscapes of the whole area. 3,407 Instagram photos have been tagged here, plenty of them featuring the impressive black lava flows that slowly ooze and solidify across certain parts of the island, with the most significant basaltic lava flow located at Sullivan Bay.
It was once one of the most popular spots for pirates to stop, rest and repair their ships in the 1700s and 1800s, but was also the second place that Charles Darwin stopped when he toured the archipelago to learn more about the process of evolution.
Bartolome - 2,588
The seventh most Instagrammed Galapagos island is Bartolome, located right in the centre of the archipelago. Its position makes it one of the more popular destinations for travellers in the area despite its small size, with many people visiting to climb to the top of the viewpoint in the centre and spot up to ten of the surrounding islands. This is one of the most photographed spots on Bartolome and appears many times amongst the 2,588 Instagram photos tagged here.
Genovesa - 1,735
Genovesa is best known as being the horseshoe-shaped Galapagos island floating in the northeast of the archipelago. This distinctive shape formed Darwin Bay which is where most visitors to the island arrive and depart, admiring the huge array of different bird species that have given Genovesa the nickname ‘The Bird Island’, including red-footed boobies, storm petrels and red-billed tropicbirds. 1,735 photos have been tagged on Instagram at this location, mainly of the vast array of different feathered creatures that nest in the forests, on the cliffs and across the beaches.
Espanola - 1,477
Found at the furthest southeast point in the Galapagos, Espanola has been tagged in 1,477 Instagram photos and is known for its remote location that has led to numerous endemic species living exclusively on the island. The chance to spot some of these creatures, from the Española mockingbird to the Española lava lizard, has made this one of the archipelago’s most popular islands for travellers interested in the wildlife in the area. It’s also famous for bringing the Española giant tortoise species back from the brink of extinction in one of the Galapagos’ most successful conservation efforts.
Pinzón - 1,340
Finally, the tenth most Instagrammed island in the Galapagos is Pinzón, which sits in the centre of the archipelago between Isabela, Santa Cruz and Santiago and has been tagged in 1,340 pictures. Unlike most of the other places in the area, the rocky formations on Pinzón rise high enough that heavy mist, or garúa, forms at the summit and provides the perfect climate for epiphyte plants that aren’t found anywhere else in the Galapagos. It’s an island that most travellers usually leave out of their tours because it isn’t as developed as its neighbours and requires a visitors permit, but does give you a glimpse into the wild, untamed nature of the area.