The stark and forbidding Malpelo Island is located 235 miles (378 Kilometers) from the Pacific coast of Colombia in the Eastern Pacific Ocean. A small Colombian Navy garrison was established in 1986 and ten years later Malpelo was officially recognized as a Colombian Fauna and Flora Sanctuary, with a marine protected area of six miles around the island.
Then, on July 12, 2006 this nationally-protected sanctuary was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, the Committee of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization. The decision was made by a unanimous vote of the 21 member countries. At the time, only Malpelo and the Giant Panda Sanctuary in China received this prestigious designation, from among 100 proposals presented to the selection committee.
The island consists of a steep, visually barren rock with three peaks that are the crest of a large submarine volcanic ridge stretching 150 miles from northeast to southwest. This ridge rises from a depth of over 13,000 feet (4000 meters) to reveal itself as the tiny, solitary rock of Malpelo. Composed of pillow lavas, breccias and basaltic dykes, the island is understood to be the remnant of a "hot spot" which is now an exposed portion of the oceanic crust.
On closer examination, the rock surfaces are home to algae, lichens, mosses and even some small shrubs and ferns that have taken hold in the nutrient rich guano that is continually replenished by the dense bird population. The maritime weather has eroded the island, forming steep cliffs and sea caves along its jagged coastline. The north and south sides of the island are ornamented by 11 smaller satellite rocks, each with its own unique appeal.
Please note, currently there are no regularly scheduled trips to Malpelo Island. Only full boat requests to visit Malpelo will be accepted.