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The islands of Lima

There are several islands in the Pacific Ocean, just off the coast of Lima. The prettiest are the Palomino and Cabinzas islands which are known for their unspoiled natural beauty and the large diversity of animals that inhabit them, such as pelicans, Humboldt penguins and sea lions.

Peru is usually divided into the highlands, the rainforest and the coast. However, one important region is often overlooked: the ocean. The ocean off the coast of Lima abounds with fish which draw many animals to the nearby islands. During a boat excursion you will see a great variety of sea life.

Many seabirds flock to the islands
Many seabirds flock to the islands

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Take a scenic boat tour

Various companies in Lima organise excursions to the islands off the coast. All boats sail from the Callao harbour. Once you are out at sea, don’t forget to look back and admire the impressive Real Felipe fortress. This fortification was built in the 18th century to protect the harbour against pirates. This is also the place where the Spaniards fought their last battle against Peruvian independence. At low tide, one can see the remains of Camotal, a sunken part of Callao that disappeared into the sea after the earthquake of 1746.

The first island you will spot is San Lorenzo, the largest island off the coast of Lima and currently used as a naval base. The summer house of the Peruvian president is also found at this beautiful location. The next island that appears is the impressive El Frontón. In the past the island was used as a quarantine station for boats arriving in the port of Callao. Later the island served as a prison for many years. After approximately 30 minutes you will arrive at the Cabinzas and Palomino islands; visitors are greeted by a loud twittering of the many birds that live here.

The sun sets behind San Lorenzo Island
The islands are densely populated with sea lions

Swimming with sea lions

The Cabinzas are a group of rocky islands with caves and caverns, and a large diversity of bird species. The islands are a haven for seabirds such as pelicans, gannets and cormorants. A large colony of Humboldt penguins also makes its home here. A little further down are the Palomino islands, a popular destination for sea lions. Hundreds of these adorable animals laze about on the rocks, while some will glide into the water to hunt or play. Several boat excursions include the option of swimming with the sea lions, a fabulous way to end a wonderful day at sea.

Swim with the sea lions on the Palomino islands

Photo credits

  • The sun sets behind San Lorenzo Island: David Almeida, Flickr
  • The islands are densely populated with sea lions: Laia Bonastre, Flickr
  • Swim with the sea lions on the Palomino islands: Paul Seligman, Flickr