Santa Fé (Barrington)

Santa Fé lies about eight miles southeast of Santa Cruz. At just over nine square miles it is a relatively small island, but well worth a visit, nonetheless. It is one of the oldest islands in the archipelago, with rock formations below the water’s surface that date back almost four million years. It is also home to two species that are endemic to the island; the Sante Fé rice rat and the Sante Fé land iguana, which can often be seen beneath the island’s towering (over twenty feet tall) prickly pear cactuses. It is believed that the enormous size and heavy trunks of the cacti are adaptations that protect the plants from iguanas and the now extinct giant tortoises that once roamed here. Feral goats were eradicated from the island in 1971.

Picturesque Barrington Bay is the only visitor site on the island. There are two hiking trails that start here. One leads to a scenic viewpoint atop a cliff and the other wends through a forest of gigantic opuntia cactus. The beach is popular with sea lions and is an excellent spot from which to snorkel.

On the cliff, rare Heller’s scalesia and radiate-headed scalesia can be found. Watch for the Galápagos hawks that overlook the beach from the tops of saltbushes and palo santos.

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