GALÁPAGOS ISLANDS

Situated in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Ecuador, the 19 isolated Galápagos islands and the surrounding marine reserve form a spectacular showcase of diverse animals and pristine ocean. Located at the confluence of three ocean currents, the Galápagos are a melting pot of marine species found nowhere else in the world. Read on for a comprehensive look at the Galápagos Islands, and the best way for you to experience them!

Cruise Based Tours

Why choose a cruise?

 

We believe that a live-aboard yacht is THE best way to see the Galápagos Islands!

Ability to see MORE islands and MORE wildlife than a land-based tour!

The best tour guides work on yachts

A wide variety of different cruising vessels available so you can find the one perfect for your group!

Camaraderie of spending your time with such a small group, whether you charter a yacht with your friends or join with new ones!

Find the Perfect Yacht!

There are almost 100 cruise ship operators throughout the Galápagos and therefore a wide variety in the different sizes, luxuries, and quality of experiences. We highly recommend opting for one of the smaller cruise ships, normally 16-20 people. If you have a group of friends this is a perfect size to charter the whole ship, otherwise you can just book a cabin aboard and spend the evening getting to know other travelers from around the globe.

Yachts

The most popular way to cruise the islands, single hull cruise boats offer the best of both worlds. Many have luxurious interiors but still maintain that classic boat feel. Knowledgeable guides will show you the best that the Galápagos has to offer, help you get your sea legs, and rejoice with you at each new wildlife sighting. Below are examples of upper-tier, mid-tier, and lower-tier yachts.

Upper Tier
Yacht Galapagos
Yacht Galapagos
Mid Tier
Yacht Galapagos
Yacht Galapagos
Lower Tier
Yacht Galapagos
Yacht Galapagos

Catamarans

Catamaran boats, or boats with two hulls, provide the ultimate cruising experience, combining spacious interiors with a stability unachievable by single-hull boats. Also with a maximum capacity of 16 passengers, you can decide if you want to be with the group or enjoy the Galápagos from the private balcony off your cabin. Below are examples of upper-tier, mid-tier, and lower-tier catamarans.

Upper Tier
Yacht Galapagos
Yacht Galapagos
Mid Tier
Yacht Galapagos
Yacht Galapagos
Lower Tier
Yacht Galapagos
Yacht Galapagos

Land Based Tours

Is a land-based tour right for you?

Pros

  • Great for people prone to sea-sickness

  • Wider variety of activities available

  • More local interaction and support of local economy

  • Less expensive than a cruise-based tour

  • Private tours for any group size

Cons
  • Less wildlife closer to town

  • Less convenient methods for intra-island travel

  • Many additional personal expenses

Explore the Galápagos from its port towns!

Land-based Galápagos tours offer an alternative to live aboard yachts. Stay in comfy hotels, eat at local restaurants and visit nearby islands on day tours by small speedboat. Galápagos multi-sport and island hopping tours are done on the inhabited islands.

Multi-sport tours

If you can’t stomach the seas or don’t enjoy relaxing on-board the ship, booking a multi-sport tour of the Galápagos is a great option. Over the course of your stay you will get the opportunity to snorkel with the sea lions, sea kayak the crystal-clear waters, hike and bike the volcanic islands, and spend time relaxing on the beaches. You can include day trips to different islands via motor speedboat to the hot spots of your favorite animals so as not to miss out on all the amazing wildlife!

Land-based tour add-on

If your heart is set on a cruise-based tour but you wouldn’t mind some hiking or biking as well, you can always add a few land-based days onto the end of your cruise! This will allow you to get the best wildlife viewing on the cruise, and also get active on land. A few days on land exploring the port-towns and supporting the local economy is a great way to wrap up your Galápagos experience!

Galapagos Wildlife

Galapagos land Iguana, Galapagos Wildlife, Galapagos Islands, Big 15
Land Iguana
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Galapagos Marine Iguana
Marine Iguana
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Galapagos Sante Fe Land Iguana
Santa Fe Land Iguana
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Galapagos Penguin
Galápagos Penguin
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Galápagos Sea Lion
Galápagos Sea Lion
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Galápagos Fur Seal
Galápagos Fur Seal
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Galápagos Giant Tortoise
Galápagos Giant Tortoise
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Galápagos Albatross
Galápagos Albatross
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Blue Foot Booby
Blue-footed Booby
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Nazca Booby
Nazca Booby
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Red-footed Booby
Red-footed Booby
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Flightless cormorant
Flightless Cormorant
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American Flamingo
American Flamingo
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Frigate birds: Great and Magnificent
Magnificent Frigate Bird
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Galápagos Hawk
Galápagos Hawk
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When to Visit

The Galápagos Islands are an exciting destination every month of the year. Something is always happening and there are departures every week. The usual peak travel times of July, August and late December ideally need to be booked well in advance (6 months to a year). The larger your party the more time in advance is needed to find accommodations. Review the calendar below to see what will be happening when you visit the Galápagos.

January through June July through December
  • Giant Tortoises migrate from high to lowland for nesting and to hatch their eggs.
  • Green Sea Turtle eggs hatch
  • Blue-footed Boobies mating
  • Penguins migrate to Isabela and Fernandina islands
  • Whales migrate up the coast of Ecuador passing by the Galápagos, sightings are common
  • Galápagos Sea Lions mating and giving birth to pups
  • Blue-footed Booby chicks being raised

History of the Galápagos Islands

The Galápagos Islands were first discovered in 1535 by Fray Tomás de Berlanga, the Bishop of Panama, entirely by accident! His ship was becalmed (left stranded with no winds) and currents carried his ship west into the islands. He saw little value in the islands and they were mostly untouched until later that century when pirates, sanctioned by England, used the islands as a base from which to raid Spanish trading ships.

The islands were still in relative obscurity in 1835 when the H.M.S. Beagle stopped there carrying a 22-year-old scientist by the name of Charles Darwin. He was fascinated by the slight differences amongst the same species of animals on different islands which gave him the inspiration for his book The Origin of Species, published in 1859, twenty-four years after his visit. Contrary to popular belief, this book did not introduce the idea of evolution, but elaborated on the how and why of evolution.

HMS Beagle, Galapagos Islands, Ecuador, South America

Tourism of the island did not really kick off until 1935, the 100-year anniversary of Darwin’s visit. In that year, the Ecuadorian government designated parts of the islands as wildlife preserves to protect the rare species that occupy them. In 1959 the Galápagos Islands were declared a National Park and the work was finished in 1968 with the finalization of the park boundaries and creation of a park service to oversee it. Even in 1970 the Galápagos only received about 1,000 visitors. Now there are upwards of 215,000 visitors that visit the Islands each year!

Photography, Galapagos Islands, Ecuador, South America

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