The visitor site on Santa Fe lies behind a pretty, sheltered bay on the northeastern corner of the island: a perfect anchorage and a good snorkeling spot. This small island is formed from uplifted, submarine basaltic lava, formed around 4 million years ago. Much of it is a faulted plateau covered with a forest of giant Opuntia cacti.
The bay with a white sandy floor and turquoise waters is an impressive place to arrive. Along the natural harbor, you can snorkel with young sea-lions, schools of yellow-tailed surgeonfish, sergeant majors, damsel – and parrotfish, plus the odd grouper, sting rays and white-tip reef shark (these are harmless).
Behind the beach lie a small natural saltbush and Maytenus garden. There are two trails. The first is a tough walk (1.5 km) along a dried up watercourse, to a high steep embankment on the southeast which is great for views; the second is a short, fruitful loop (800 meters) that climbs through the arid vegetation to a giant Opuntia forest where land iguanas may be seen.
As you walk through the dense bushes on the short trail, watch out for the Croton bushes, an endemic plant with an indelible stain. The most spectacular plants are the giant prickly pear cacti, unique to Santa Fe (Opuntia echios barringtonensis). Listen carefully for rustling sounds; they could be made by the endemic rice rat, these are extremely rare; the only other island with endemic rodents is Fernandina. The Galapagos dove is common on the trail, as are painted locusts, often pursued by a snake or two. The park monument is often a vantage point to spy a Galapagos hawk. The highlight is the land iguana, a lighter yellow-colored iguana that is endemic to Santa Fe.