Galapagos Islands Pirates and Buccaneers
Not all visitors to the Galapagos arrived by accident. Many used the islands into way station and ports of call.
The fabulous wealth of the growing Spanish Empire caught the attention of Spain's European rivals, who wanted to limit Spanish power and grab some of the wealth for themselves.
During the long hostility between the English Navy and the Spanish Armada, English gave a sort of support to the buccaneers who sacked Latin American ports and seized galleons by not persecuting them.
The Galapagos lay not far from the route between the conquered Inca Empire of the Andes and Panama and New Spain (Mexico), the center of Spanish activity in the New World. These pirates used the uninhabited islands as base and refuge after raids. Establishing ports (such as Buccaneer Cove at Santiago Island), they found the islands useful for gaining occasional fresh water and stocking up on fresh food. Upon discovering that the giant tortoises could be stacked upside down and live for up to a year without food, many passing ships went ashore to gather the fearless animals for meat during voyages. One English buccaneer, William Ambrose Cowley, drew up the first basic navigational charts in 1684. Like other buccaneers, he named many of the islands with the names of English royalty - James, Albemarle, etc. Over the years, divers have occasionally found evidence of buccaneers on the Galapagos, such as large jars found. Dive and you might discover a galleon's precious coffers!