Chinese Hat and Sullivan Bay are two exceptional natural landmarks that offer us valuable insights into the geological history and unique biodiversity of the iconic central islands.
Chinese Hat is a small islet, aptly named for its distinctive shape resembling traditional headwear. It features a volcanic cone with a crescent-shaped crater, set against a backdrop of barren lava fields. The islet’s rocky terrain provides a glimpse into the raw forces of volcanic activity that have shaped the islands over millions of years. Chinese Hat’s pristine environment serves as a living laboratory for the study of volcanic colonization and succession of flora and fauna. We explored the bay of this small islet via Zodiac rides and snorkel outings during the morning hours. We had exceptional encounters with nature, such as Galapagos sea lions, Galapagos penguins, whitetip reef sharks, sea stars, and several species of fish.
Sullivan Bay, located on Santiago Island’s eastern coast, offers a different geological perspective. This bay is renowned for its extensive lava fields, primarily composed of pahoehoe lava; this type is known for its smooth, rope-like appearance. These vast stretches of volcanic rock are a testament to the most recent eruptions in the Galapagos, with Sullivan Bay’s volcanic activity occurring in the late 19th century. As we hiked over these amazing formations in the lava field, we enjoyed the unique opportunity to observe the transformation of the landscape by volcanic forces, highlighting the dynamic geological history of the islands.
From an evolutionary standpoint, Chinese Hat and Sullivan Bay exemplify the processes of colonization and adaptation that have given rise to the Galapagos Islands’ unparalleled biodiversity. The isolation and recent volcanic origins of these islands have fostered the evolution of numerous endemic species, making them the embodiment of Charles Darwin’s groundbreaking insights into evolution by natural selection.
We had a fantastic day of exploration around these central islands, and it will remain in our memories forever.