The Galpagos Travel blog gives you a feel for the Rabida. At first glance, Rabida is another typical beach-plus-mangrove-plus-flamingo lagoon site. But what makes it very different and very memorable is the color of the beach and island soil: a rich russet that gleams in the sun and gives everything on it a special quality of soft beauty. The reddish hue comes from the oxidation of the iron-rich lava that is the basis of its soil.
The island is an hour and a half by boat from Sombrero Chino. It is small, just a little over 2 kilometers across at its widest point. It is steep and rugged and rises to more than 400 meters at its highest point, although the visitor will be staying at the lowest elevations. The chief vegetation on the slopes is opuntia cactus, Palo Santo trees, and other scrubby bushes. Right at the shoreline is the band of mangrove that separates the beach from the saltwater lagoon inland just a few meters.
The landing is a wet one onto the narrow strip of beach. Usually a number of sea lions are on the beach or in the small caves that have been formed in the cliffs at the water’s edges. Even if you see no sea lions basking or swimming at the beach, your nose will tell you whether they are still to be found a little farther on. Be careful when you walk into the mangrove strip because the sea lions also love to sleep in the shade of the bushes. It is entirely possible to unexpectedly step on an extended flipper. An irritated Galapagos sea lion can move amazingly quickly and inflict quite a bite, so caution is called for.
It takes only a minute or two to reach the lagoon.With any luck there will be flamingos sieving through the brackish water for the minute plant and animal life that they depend on for food. Each time I was there we also saw several Galapagos white-cheeked pintail ducks (Anas bahamensis). This is a very attractive bird with a steel-blue bill decorated by fuchsia stripes along its lower length.
The trail is a gentle 1-mile circular route. It goes up a slight slope to a cliff that overlooks a small ocean inlet. The path leads to an excellent view of a tiny cove; its white sandy bottom and blue waters are set in the frame of the red cliffs on which you stand. You will have a lovely stroll among the Palo Santo trees, and there are some sweeping views of the ocean from the low cliffs that the trail approaches. Always there is the contrast of red soil, blue water, white sea floor, and gray-green vegetation.