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A small island just south of Santiago, Rabida Island, or Isla Rabida as known locally, is one of the most volcanically varied in the archipelago. The island has steep slopes, and most of the coastline is rocky except for a beach on the northeast side. Rabida is perhaps best known for its red sand beaches. Several small volcanic craters and the high amount of iron in the lava give the island its distinctive red color and overall appearance.
Marine iguanas and sea lions can often be found resting in the shade of the nearby caves. Rabida is one of the best places to observe nesting pelicans, as well as Blue-footed and Nazca boobies. Just behind the beach is a salt lagoon where Pintail ducks can be seen.
There is a short inland trail, which is an ideal spot for observing land birds such as finches, Galapagos doves, yellow warblers and mockingbirds, as well as the occasional snake. Cacti and Palo Santo trees dot the landscape here. Snorkeling from Rabida will reveal a thriving underwater ecosystem of sea lions, sea turtles, eagle rays, garden eels and the occasional shark or penguin. There is also a small colony of fur seals who reside here in addition to a nesting colony of penguins. Twice in the 1970’s the Ecuadorian government attempted to introduce goats to the island, although these attempts were unsuccessful. The goats upset the natural environment and led to the extinction of several species on the island, including geckos and land iguanas.