One the first day we visted Galápagos, we stopped on a lava field right across from Bartolome Island. Hobbling from the shaky Zodiacs that had taken us from the main ship, we stumbled onto the obsidian shore. This black stretch of hardened lava surprised me at first-- I had expected Galápagos to be lush and green, like a rainforest. However, this alien landscape of twisted rock, like satin that had been frozen as it was tumbling down the hillside, proved to be both fascinating and dangerous.
Because Galápagos is a group of volcanic islands, it's not uncommon to find stretched of volcanic rock. The portion we were on had been from an eruption about two hundred years ago, but it was remarkably un-eroded. Near the shore, red crabs provided a striking contrast to the dark formations. Some of the lava had hardened into ripples, like the ones you get while pouring cake batter into a pan, while other portions were sharp and pointed, as if clusters of knives had grown from the ground. Despite the bad lighting, you can see examples of this in the image below.
These sharp parts were what we were worried about. The lava fields in Galápagos aren't nearly as dangerous as the ones in Hawaii, but we still had to wear sturdy shoes and jeans when hiking. If we fell, we were warned that we might get cut or have small shards of rock stuck in our hand. This made me a little bit leery at first, but to actually fall on a lava field you have to be either really clumsy or really reckless.
That said, if you do visit the Galápagos lava fields, or any lava fields for that matter, you still want to be careful. Bits of the rock can sometimes break off or crumble when you step on them. Clothing wise, jeans and sturdy shoes are, again, probably best. Other than that, your regular hiking gear is fine.
Though occasionally treacherous, lava fields were a great introduction to Galápagos. With their winding, twisting formations and fascinating hiking paths, we were given a taste at how special this group of islands would be. Concluding with my bad pun, Galápagos lava fields may be sharper than your attitude, but they sure are a whole lot cooler.