What to see in the Galapagos Islands

What to see in the Galapagos Islands

Table of Contents

Everything you need to know to organize your trip to the Galapagos Islands

I had the privilege of living in the Galapagos Islands for a long time and therefore being able to get to know them in depth. Given that over the years I have specialized in this destination – working closely with local operators – I decided to write this complete guide on traveling to the Galapagos which I believe anyone who chooses this archipelago as a travel destination should read.

Before arriving to the islands I knew very little about this place in the heart of the Pacific Ocean , and what little I knew turned out not to be 100% correct.

For example, I believed that they were completely uninhabited, that you could only travel on a cruise and that, apart from the giant tortoises, there weren’t many other animals worthy of note (how wrong I was, read the post on the animals of the Galapagos Islands and you will discover many others!).

Little did I know that I was about to discover one of the best preserved marine parks on earth and that many things I thought I knew were not exactly what I thought.

After a cruise , in which I suffered seasickness due to the rough seas in August, I landed in Puerto Ayora , on the island of Santa Cruz , and was presented with a very different scenario from the one I had imagined. I stayed much longer than expected and began to travel the entire most famous archipelago in South America.

I traveled between tours and cruises and I really understood why the Galapagos Islands represent the ideal destination for nature lovers .

I discovered its different eco-systems , I swam with many species of animals, I saw them change in its two main seasons and they became a sort of second home.

This post was born from this long stay in which I collected all the most important information you need to know to organize a trip to the Galapagos Islands which I am sure will help you choose and orient yourself in this small, but complex, little world out of this world.

The post is very long , to make it easier to read I created a table of contents so you can skip to the paragraph of interest in case you don’t want to read it all.

If you are planning a trip to the Galapagos Islands and Ecuador be sure to read these posts:

If you are looking for a local operator to organize a tailor-made trip or would like to find a cruise to the Galapagos Islands, contact me! Since 2012 I have been collaborating with local operators and you can book island hopping or cruises at no additional cost.

Click the button and find all search platforms and book your next trip yourself.

Plan your trip yourself

Read also: Trip to the Galapagos Islands – Myths to dispel and travel advice

What you can see in the Galapagos Islands and why to go there – Video by National Geographic

Where are the Galapagos located? And what makes them so special?

The Galapagos Islands are an archipelago located in the eastern Pacific Ocean , approximately 1,000 kilometers from the South American mainland of Ecuador, the gateway country for the archipelago.

The archipelago is made up of 18 main islands, 3 smaller islands and numerous islets and rocks . What makes the location of the Galapagos Islands special is their isolation and unique ecosystem . The islands are considered a UNESCO World Heritage Site and are recognized for their unrivaled biodiversity and pristine natural environments1. Due to their remote location, the islands have developed distinct flora and fauna, including many endemic species found nowhere else on Earth.

The Galapagos Islands inspired Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection . While visiting him in 1835, Darwin studied the unique plant and animal life on the islands, which helped shape his 4 revolutionary scientific ideas. Today, the Galapagos Islands continue to be a living laboratory for scientists and a haven for wildlife conservation.

nature of the Galapagos

How to get to the Galapagos Islands from Italy and Ecuador

The only way to reach the Galapagos Islands is to fly from one of Ecuador’s two main airports: Quito or Guayaquil.

Prices for tourists are fairly standard and vary between $400/500 per person return .

The main arrival airports on the islands are Baltra Airport , connected to the Santa Cruz Island which is generally the recommended one, and San Cristobal Airport .

There is also a small airport on Isabela Island but it is only used for domestic flights for the routes: Baltra/Isabela and San Cristobal/Isabela. There are mainly three airlines that fly to the islands:  LATAM, TAME and AVIANCA.

For those arriving in the Galapagos Islands with their own boat, there is an obligation to dock at the three main ports and there is a ban on navigating the archipelago independently.

Marine traffic is in fact regulated by the Galapagos National Park  and only boats with a license issued by the park, not issued to private boats, are allowed to navigate.

The cost of the plane ticket DOES NOT include the entrance fee to the National park which must be paid in cash upon arrival (US$100 per adult and US$50 for children up to 12 years old, residents of Ecuador who provide an identity card will pay US$6). Entrance fees are subject to change , it is therefore advisable to always check on the official website. At the departure airport in Ecuador it is mandatory to pay the INGALA (immigration) tax of $US20 per person.
Don’t forget to ask for a stamp in your passport!

Visa and maximum duration of stay in the Galapagos 

The maximum length of stay in the Galapagos Islands is 3 months, non-renewable, unless you obtain a special visa that allows you to stay for up to 6 months or 1 year with a regular work contract (very difficult to obtain). 

These same rules also apply to residents of Ecuador, to avoid overcrowding on the islands. 

Once the permitted months have passed, you will not be able to return to the islands for a year. The tourist visa for Ecuador is obtained upon arrival at the airport and is free. Instead, entry to the Galapagos Islands requires the payment of $100 entrance fee to the Galapagos National Park .

Galapagos albatross

How much does it cost to enter the Galapagos Islands National Park 

Entrance to the Galapagos Islands National Park costs $100 per person per adult, while children up to 12 years old pay $50.

The $100 must be paid in cash when you go through passport control. There are no ATMs or possibility to pay by credit card at the airport.

Upon payment of the $100 you will be given the tourist plate to be jealously guarded until the day of departure from the islands. Upon departure from the airport in Ecuador you are also required to pay a $20 INGALA tax (immigration).

galapagos fees

Can I stay longer on the islands?

Many people ask me how to stay in the Galapagos Islands for a long time, unfortunately after three months it is not possible to extend the stay and it is not possible to return to the islands for 12 months.
The only two conditions to be able to live on the islands are:

  • Have a regular employment contract (which however allows a stay limited to 12 months maximum and cannot be renewed)
  • Marry a resident to obtain residency yourself

In the absence of these conditions, you will have to make do with the 3 months available, which in any case are more than enough!

Red legged boobies

Climate in the Galapagos Islands – When to go to the Galapagos

What is the best time to visit the Galapagos Islands? This is not a difficult question to answer! The Galapagos Islands are a year-round tourist destination.

The peak season tends to be June to August, and December to February, which coincide with holidays around the world. The maximum is reached in December , the Christmas and New Year period in which boats and hotels generally run out of availability as early as September. Are you unsure about the best month? Read the post: GALAPAGOS MONTH BY MONTH 

There is no better or worse time to visit the Galapagos, as my friends say, it is always the right time for a trip to the Galapagos! There are mainly two seasons: dry and cold and rainy and hot. Let’s see the pros and cons of each.

From December to May – Hot and rainy

The season from December to May  corresponds to the hot season, with a peak in February, the water warms up, and so does the air temperature.
Heavy rain can happen but generally the sky is always clear and the sun shines.

Since the water is warmer, you probably won’t need a wetsuit to enter, on the other hand, due to the temperatures, land animals are seen to a lesser extent, for example there are no albatrosses in Espanola . From March to May you might see sea turtles and sea lions looking for mates.

From June to November – The cold and garua season

The season from June to November corresponds to the cold and garua season, the air and water cool down, you will need a wetsuit. Unlike what you might believe, it is in these months that some of the best snorkeling and sightings can be done.

In fact, during these months the sea life is very active thanks to the Humboldt current which also brings water rich in nutrients and plankton, arriving in large quantities of fish and birds.

This is also the best time of the year for divers as the animals in the water are really active, in October for those taking part in the diving cruise there are very high chances of diving with whale sharks.

It is quite common in these months to see: penguins, albatrosses (in Espanola), frigate birds and blue-legged boobies in love and in the mating ritual.

Santa Fe sea lions

The main islands of the Galapagos archipelago

The Galapagos archipelago consists of several main islands, each with its own unique landscapes and fauna. Here are the main islands of the Galapagos, for an in-depth description of each island and the animals you can see on each, read the post on the Galapagos islands to visit.

  • Santa Cruz : Santa Cruz is the most populous and central island of the Galapagos. Puerto Ayora , the largest city in the archipelago, is located here , as well as the Charles Darwin research station . Santa Cruz offers diverse ecosystems, including lava tubes, giant tortoise breeding centers, and beautiful beaches like Tortuga Bay and Las Bachas.
  • San Cristobal: San Cristobal is the easternmost island of the Galapagos. The capital of the archipelago, Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, is located on the island . The island offers beautiful landscapes, including volcanic peaks like Cerro Brujo , white sand beaches like Playa Mann , and popular snorkeling and diving spots like Leon Dormido .
  • Isabela : Isabela is the largest island in the Galapagos and is made up of six volcanoes. It boasts impressive natural attractions, including the Sierra Negra volcano , one of the largest volcanic calderas in the world, the iconic Tintoreras Island , the giant tortoise breeding center at the Arnaldo Tupiza Tortoise Breeding Center and stunning marine lava tubes (Cabo Rosa)
  • Fernandina : Fernandina is the youngest and most volcanically active island in the Galapagos. It offers a unique opportunity to see pristine lava flows and a variety of wildlife, including marine iguanas and flightless cormorants. One of the main places to visit in Fernandina is Punta Espinosa.
  • Santiago : Santiago Island, also known as James Island, is located in the western part of the Galapagos. Diverse wildlife is spotted here, including Galapagos sea lions, sea turtles and several species of Darwin’s finches. Visiting sites on Santiago Island are Sullivan Bay and Puerto Egas.
  • Bartolome : Bartolome Island is a small island known for its iconic Pinnacle Rock , which has become an emblem of the Galapagos Islands. From its summit you will enjoy breathtaking panoramic views, excellent snorkeling and, with luck, you may even spot Galapagos penguins (in my experience, however, you are more likely to see them in Isabela).
  • North Seymour : North Seymour is a small island near Baltra Island and is renowned for its large population of nesting blue-footed boobies and magnificent frigatebirds. In the mating season you will be able to see the courtship rituals of these splendid birds. Land iguanas also live on the island.
  • Floreana : Floreana Island is one of the oldest inhabited islands in the Galapagos and has a rich human history which you can read about here. Points of interest include Post Office Bay, where a postal system used by whalers has existed for centuries, and nearby Champion Islet , known for its diverse bird populations.
  • Genovesa : Genovesa Island, also known as Tower Island, is located in the northeastern part of the Galapagos. It is an exceptional island for birdwatching, with notable species including red-footed boobies, great frigate birds and large colonies of swallow-tailed gulls.
  • Espanola: Espanola Island, also known as Hood Island, is one of the southernmost islands of the Galapagos. It is famous for its unique wildlife, including wavy albatrosses from April to December, marine iguanas and colorful Spanish thrushes. Gardner Bay and Punta Suarez are the visit sites where there will be no shortage of colonies of sea lions lounging on the white sand.
  • Plaza Island: Isla Plaza Sur is a small but beautiful island located near Santa Cruz. It is famous for its flora, including cacti and colorful sesuvius plants, but also for its fauna. Here you will be able to see land iguanas, sea lions and numerous sea birds.
  • Pinzon Island : Pinzon Island is a volcanic island located west of Santa Cruz. It is known for its diverse marine life and is a popular spot for snorkeling and diving. In my opinion it is the island with the best snorkeling of all. In its waters you may encounter sea turtles, Galapagos penguins and various species of tropical fish.
  • Santa Fe Island : Santa Fe Island, also known as Barrington Island, is a small island located in the central part of the Galapagos archipelago. It is renowned for its sandy beaches, turquoise waters and a unique cactus forest. The island is home to land iguanas, sea lions and mice endemic to the island.

What to see in the Galapagos Islands if you have 7 days (with island hopping)

It’s difficult to think of a travel itinerary that works for everyone. In fact, unless you book a cruise, the variables when creating travel itineraries to the Galapagos Islands are numerous (do you snorkel? Do you want to go trekking? Do you have any particular interests? Are there animals you would like to see?).

So there are so many travel options but if your sole interest is to see a large quantity of animals and vary the flora and fauna as much as possible then I would recommend following this itinerary which guarantees the best 12 months of the year:

  1. Arrival at the Galapagos Islands and visit the Upper Part of Santa Cruz and the Charles Darwin Center
  2. Tour to Santa Fe Island and Playa Escondida where you can swim with sea lions in beautiful turquoise waters
  3. Tour to Seymour Island and Las Bachas Beach , to see the magnificent frigate birds, blue-footed boobies and land iguanas up close
  4. Land and water tour to Isabela Island to see flamingos, marine iguanas, Galapagos sharks and most likely Galapagos penguins
  5. Tour to the marine lava tunnels , a half day of snorkeling in a natural aquarium made up of lava collapsed into the water
  6. Tour to Pinzon Island and La Fe Bay to swim with penguins from the Galapagos Islands and tropical fish but also manta rays and sharks
  7. Visit Tortuga Bay and return to Ecuador.

Obviously this is my advice if you only have 7 days. There are many more islands to visit, for a detailed list of the main islands and the recommended tours, refer to the post: Best tours to the Galapagos Islands and islands you should see

Red legged boobies

How to travel to the Galapagos Islands – Cruise or Islands Hopping?

Is it better to take a cruise to the Galapagos Islands or land tours ( island hopping, i.e. sleeping on land and taking day tours)? This is a question that I get asked very often and which is always difficult for me to answer because the answer is: it depends. 
They are both very valid and very different  travel methods , so the choice depends on some personal factors.

The Galapagos Islands , as a protected national park, are constantly monitored by the National Park, which determines routes and methods of travel . Sometimes the places of visit between cruise and day tours are the same, other times different. Cruises arrive on some islands and tours on others. But we always talk about protected islands of the National Park.

I have noticed that those who have traveled on a cruise will say that it is the best way and those who have done island hopping will say the opposite.

The truth is that there is no better way , simply until 12 years ago the only way to travel to the islands was on cruises, thus remaining the historical travel method, but island hopping has over the years become increasingly popular, becoming a a very valid alternative that allows greater flexibility.

I, who have lived there and traveled them both on cruises and on tours, find it extremely difficult to say which mode I prefer because I find them both valid and beautiful.

Islands hopping vs Galapagos cruise – Pros and cons

Both options offer unique experiences for exploring the islands , each with its own pros and cons. But before mentioning them, I want to tell you that both island hopping and cruising are excellent ways to explore the Galapagos Islands, offering unique experiences.

Island hopping is recommended for travelers who want to spend a little less and who want to immerse themselves in the local culture, while the cruise is recommended for those who want to experience nature in total comfort and in contact with nature for the entire duration of the trip

Here are some significant features of each travel mode

Islands hopping

Island hopping offers the flexibility to create your own itineraries, choose your own accommodations and experience the islands at your own pace. Below are the pros and cons of island hopping:


  • Flexibility to create a customized itinerary and visit specific islands that match your interests.
  • Lower cost, as you can choose between hostels and budget hotels.
  • Opportunity to experience local culture and taste local cuisine.
  • Greater opportunities to interact with the local population.
  • The opportunity to visit the nearby town of Puerto Ayora, where you can enjoy more activities than on a cruise ship.


  • Limited time to explore each island, as travel time between islands may take a long time.
  • Accommodation options are limited, as there aren’t many hostels or budget hotels on the islands, making booking months in advance essential.
  • Limited access to some parts of the islands due to local regulations.


The Galapagos cruise offers a unique and comfortable experience, with the opportunity to visit remote islands, see lots of wildlife and enjoy a full range of onboard services. Here are the pros and cons of cruising:


  • The possibility of visiting remote and uncontaminated islands, anchoring in hidden bays to access exclusive areas.
  • A greater chance of spotting wildlife, as cruises can visit more isolated regions of the islands.
  • All-inclusive experience aboard luxury vessels, often including activities such as diving, kayaking and excursions, meals, and expert nature guides.
  • Less travel time between islands, allowing more time to enjoy activities like snorkeling.
  • Professional nature guides on board who provide information and enhance guests’ knowledge of the islands.


  • Higher cost, as cruises are typically more expensive than island hopping options.
  • Limited flexibility in terms of itinerary, as cruise routes are planned in advance and are not easily adaptable.
  • Short periods spent on each island, up to a few hours only.
  • Limited opportunity to visit the main town, Puerto Ayora or Puerto Villamil.

The choice will therefore depend on the type of experience you want to have. To begin to understand what to choose ask yourself: 

  • Do you suffer from seasickness? If you like island hopping, day tours and sleeping on land, this is more for you 
  • Do you prefer the peace of the boat in the evening or would you like to go out and go to restaurants or bars? If you prefer peace then cruising is the best choice 
  • Do you also want to have some free time? If yes, then island hopping is for you

The important thing in choosing island hopping is to have a mix of flora and fauna indicative of the complexity of the archipelago . And on this the operator who will help in the planning should be able to help (when I plan trips to the islands I always keep this thing in mind which is fundamental)

Bartolome Island Galapagos

Is traveling to the Galapagos Islands without a tour possible?

If by traveling to the Galapagos Islands without a tour we mean that you can somehow reach the uninhabited islands or protected areas, such as the  Sierra Negra Volcano , independently,  the answer is no.

The  Galapagos National Park  is almost entirely protected, this means that to reach the protected islands it is mandatory to rely on cruises or tours authorized by the Park and with naturalist guides from the National Park.

The protection and safeguarding of eco-systems is taken very seriously, for this reason there are strict rules that even regulate the maximum times allowed during visits. These times, like the maximum number of people on each island, were drawn up by scientists constantly working in the archipelago with the aim of having the minimum possible impact on the animals that live there and on the local flora.

What you can do independently is  to move between the main islands : Santa Cruz, Isabela, San Cristobal and Floreana.
But then to be able to visit places such as the Cabo Rosa tunnels, or Santa Fe Island or Leon Dormido – just to name just three – you will have to take part in a tour.

Is it worth going to the islands without taking a tour or cruise?

This is a question I get asked often. I won’t deny that while reading online I found some blogs that talk about the Galapagos Islands (describing them as paradise) despite not having taken any tours and limiting the trip to accessible places.

In my very humble opinion, traveling like this risks just being an exaggerated and unjustified cost .
In this way you would lose a large part of the  animals that characterize the archipelago , thus limiting yourself to seeing giant turtles, marine iguanas and sea lions. It would be a great shame. The Galapagos Islands are much more.

My advice in these cases, if the trip risks becoming too expensive, is to  reduce the days and optimize them as best as possible .

If you have extra days  discover Ecuador  it has some phenomenal places!

Puerto Villamil

How to choose the right travel itinerary to the Galapagos Islands? How many days to stay? 

Obviously my advice is to let yourself be guided by an expert in designing your travel itinerary to the Galapagos. I have had clients who, upon meeting other travellers, asked me why I had not included one island and opted for another, and I could justify the choice which is always made based on the time available, the animals and the activities requested and best for the type of traveller. and the travel season.

But if with island hopping the itineraries are tailor-made, if you opt for the cruise things change. The itineraries are quite varied and certainly the ones that will be proposed will be mainly three: South, North and West (or 2 if you opt for the 8 days: North/West or South/East):

  • The Southern itinerary  covers the following islands: San Cristobal, Santa Fe, Espanola and Floreana
  • The North itinerary includes seven islands: Santiago, Bartolome, Rabida, North Seymour and Genovesa
  • The Western itinerary  covers the following islands: Isabela and Fernandina

Cruises  last 4, 5 and 8 days, few offer 6 or 7 day itineraries. The cost of the cruise obviously depends on the type of boat, economic or luxury, starting from $1,400 for 4 days up to $2500/2800 for 8 days in the tourist category.

My advice is to opt for an 8-day cruise to be able to reach the most distant and remote islands and therefore be able to see more islands than you would in just 4 days (which in truth only offer 2 full days of travel). But if 8 days are too many then even 5-day itineraries are very valid.

To learn more about cruises I recommend you read the dedicated post: How to choose a cruise to the Galapagos Islands. In this post I also explain why just one more day could make the difference.

Island  hopping,  on the other hand, is much more flexible and, as it is customizable, can satisfy everyone’s needs and desires. This is the ideal solution and recommended for those who suffer from seasickness and do not want to live 5 or 8 days on a boat without much freedom.

In both cases the itineraries must be carefully and carefully designed to ensure that they offer variety of fauna and the possibility of reaching the best spots for snorkelling.

galapagos cruise

Not all itineraries are the same – Tips for choosing the best ones

Not all itineraries are the same, if the choice falls on the cruise it is important to choose the itinerary that allows you to visit islands that you could not visit otherwise.

For example those that touch Genovesa and Fernandina . To visit both you need at least 8 days and the itinerary must be the North-West.

The important thing, whether it is  Islands hopping or cruising , is that the islands as a whole offer a variety of flora and fauna so as to be able to understand the biodiversity of the archipelago.

In fact, I remember that each island has its own eco-system and if mixed well, even in just 7 days, you can be sure that you will have the best in terms of animals and terrestrial and marine activities. The itinerary you follow will make a difference on your perception of the islands and your travel experience.

On the islands, more than anywhere else, the saying ” you get what you pay for ” applies. Make sure that the boats, guides, tours are of good quality and that the islands you visit actually touch places of interest to you.

The islands can offer a lot but if you pay too much attention to saving you risk losing a good part of it and, as sometimes happens, being disappointed.

How many days to stay in the Galapagos Islands? 

Based on my experience I believe that wonderful travel itineraries can be created from 7 to 10 days . Pretty intense and full of activity but after all, who goes to the Galapagos to sunbathe?
Jokes aside.

It is obvious that the longer you stay, the more islands you can visit, but since traveling to the Galapagos is quite expensive, a complete 7-day itinerary is usually an excellent compromise that allows you to see a lot.

How much time in advance should you reserve for the Galapagos?

It is usually recommended to book the tour  at least 3 months before arrival , even more if you are traveling in the peak season months. This is because not all boats are the same. Not only that, every boat has its guides, and even these are sometimes good, other times less good. 

An operator has his selection, the tours are limited in number and for a maximum of 16 people on board , and if the places on the boats he prefers are finished, if he is a serious operator, he will hardly give in by offering poor quality tours.
To guarantee the best tours on the best boats it is advisable to reserve well in advance. 

Looking for  last minute tours  upon arrival, remember that last minute means from one day to the next, is a potential risk that makes planning the entire trip an unknown. This is especially true if you have only a few days available and cannot be flexible with the dates.

isola Plaza Galapagos

Are the Galapagos Islands a backpacker destination?

The islands are not a destination for backpackers , not only because of the high costs but also because of the travel method they require.

The Galapagos are a protected marine national park , only 3% of the territory is accessible independently while the rest requires a guide and tours with a regular license whose costs are very high and exceed hundreds of dollars per person per day .

Backpackers tend to travel independently , reach places without guides and with public transport, sleep in hostels and limit the impact of costs by cutting down on many aspects to extend their trip.

The Galapagos doesn’t allow any of this. There are very few hostels, and those few cost a lot (starting from $28 per night in a shared room), they are not accessible independently other than just a few beaches, a weekly budget is required which in principle could allow you to travel for up to two months in a country like Bolivia.

Red legged boobies

What should I expect from a trip to the Galapagos?

A trip to the Galapagos is a sort of marine safari , if your idea is to camp out on the beach in Caribbean and tropical situations this is probably not the right place.
The islands and permitted visits require discipline even when travelling , all itineraries are defined by the National Park, 97% of the territory is not accessible to independent travelers who are prohibited from entering.

The Galapagos are not a place for everyone and, even if in recent years they have become fashionable, the motivations that lead to organizing a trip to this place must be strong, there are much cheaper and even more beautiful places if we understand that what they islands offer is not our case.

The Galapagos Islands are for you if..

  • You want to walk near animals 
  • You are a lover of national parks 
  • You like snorkeling and/or diving
  • You are comfortable with organized and group tours

The Galapagos Islands are NOT for you if…

  • You want a relaxing seaside holiday 
  • You want to travel independently 
  • You are not interested in the National Park 
  • You don’t snorkel and you don’t like swimming 
blue footed boobies

How do I know if the Galapagos is the right destination?

Ask yourself if you are interested in what islands have to offer you that you can’t find elsewhere.

  • Are you interested in seeing the animals that live there up close?
  • Do you like snorkeling?
  • Are you willing to pay that much money to have this experience?
  • Are you willing to give up your travel independence by accepting fixed and specific times and the obligation to travel in groups?

If the answers to all these questions are Yes then it is the right place, there are few places in the world like the Galapagos but being a particular place it is not necessarily universally the best.

Everything else you can find in the Galapagos (cruises, swimming in the sea, bars etc) can be found in many other places in the world at much lower prices.

The Galapagos have their flaws, for example, the food is nothing special, the bars like the hotels are rather simple and very expensive for what they offer, most of the inhabitants are immigrants from Ecuador and, consequently, do not there is a real local culture, tours have very high costs and very limiting travel rules. 

 The choice to go to the Galapagos must be motivated by a real interest in this archipelago and how much it means for the natural world, but it must absolutely not be a choice dictated by fashion.
The risk of being disappointed exists if you don’t understand where you are going or, mistakenly, you stumble upon myths that need to be debunked, which I list below. 

Marine iguana Galapagos Islands

Galapagos Islands – Myths to dispel

The Galapagos Islands are mythical and in recent years have become very famous and sought after. However, working as a travel designer for this archipelago, I realize that we can come across erroneous beliefs, or myths, which are not entirely correct. So I will try to dispel these myths and tell you what you can really find on the islands.

Andean and typical culture

The islands have been inhabited for just 100 years, there is no real Andean culture , not like you can find on the continent.
You have the opportunity to get to know the local people, who today will be in their third or fourth generation, but the islands are not the ideal place to study and learn about the culture and traditions that still exist today in the hinterland or on the coast of the country itself ( Ecuador).

Postcard islands

The first mistake we make when we think of the Galapagos is to identify them as an archipelago in the Caribbean or in the Pacific Ocean .
The Galapagos invite you to a different and exclusively naturalistic journey.
If you want a relaxing holiday by the sea or in bungalows on the beach you are most likely going to the wrong destination, and this mistake could cost you very dearly!

High costs = Luxury holiday

Everything on the islands costs up to twice as much as Ecuador, if not triple, the quality is much lower than on the continent at decidedly higher prices. 
The islands live on limited tourism.

The efforts that the National Park makes to limit access are numerous and take the form of very expensive travel costs, daily tours and cruises, thus making the islands not destinations for everyone and for those who  very much want to reach them .

The high costs are due to the exclusivity of the place and the possibility of being able to discover one of the last virgin archipelagos with exemplary ecosystems. Those who love luxury are likely to be disappointed here.

You can travel without taking part in tours or without a cruise

Only 3% of the territory is accessible to tourists independently and this small percentage is limited to inhabited towns where, for obvious reasons, there are no animals and there are few accessible beaches.

The rest of the territory is kept under control and study by the National Park which grants few licenses to boats and determines a maximum number of tourists per day for each uninhabited island.

So, if it is true that you can go to the islands independently, it is equally true that taking part in tours and having naturalist guides from the National Park is mandatory and essential to make this trip truly unique and unforgettable.

blue footed

What to bring when traveling to the Galapagos?

Lonely Planet’s Ecuador and Galapagos guide can be an excellent starting point to start discovering more about the islands.
If the trip focuses solely on the Islands you can buy it alone

As for clothing. We are on the equator so temperatures never drop below 20 degrees. In fact, a sweater for the evening is good to have. Here is a checklist of things to bring:

  • Mask and fins (especially if you are staying for a rather long period so you can avoid renting)
  • Pocket lamp for underground tunnels
  • Swimming suit
  • Three
  • Flip flops
  • Shoes for walking
  • T-shirts
  • Shorts
  • Sun cream (wear it even if the sky is overcast because the sun beats down the same)
  • Comfortable trousers for walking
  • Adapter with American socket (the two parallel arms just to clarify)
  • Seasickness pills

For the rest, know that Puerto Ayora, Puerto Baquerizo Moreno and Puerto Villamil are inhabited towns where you can find everything, so don’t worry, there is wifi, there are shops and supermarkets.

Embrace the Galapagos experience as a special and unique place to travel

During your stay in the Galapagos Islands, open your mind and heart to the incredible diversity of wildlife and ecosystems. Its beauty lies precisely in this uniqueness.
Observe fascinating animal behavior, including the famous giant tortoises, playful sea lions, marine iguanas and unique bird species. Take time to appreciate picturesque landscapes, pristine beaches and fascinating underwater worlds. Truly immerse yourself in the Galapagos experience and create lasting memories.

Remember, the Galapagos Islands are a treasure to be protected and revered . By following this guide and practicing responsible tourism, you can have an unforgettable trip while contributing to the conservation effort of this extraordinary destination. Please note that regulations and recommendations may change, so it is essential to stay up to date with the latest guidelines from the Galapagos National Park and your chosen tour operator.

Respect nature – Simple rules to follow in the Galapagos Islands

When visiting the Galapagos Islands, it is important to follow the rules and regulations established by the Galapagos National Park Directorate (GNPD) to protect the unique ecosystem and wildlife1. Here are some basic rules for visitors:

  • Accompaniment of a naturalist guide : All visitors to protected areas within the Galapagos National Park must be accompanied by a naturalist guide authorized by the GNPD. You are not allowed to move independently. Even if you think you are careful, simply walking on paths where you shouldn’t go risks disturbing animals and impacting the eco-system
  • Stay on designated trails: It is vital to stay on marked trails to minimize impact on the islands’ delicate flora and fauna1.
  • Maintain a safe distance : Maintain a distance of at least 2 meters from wildlife to avoid disturbing their natural behavior and for your safety.
  • No Feeding or Touching Wildlife: Feeding or touching animals is strictly prohibited to protect their health and preserve their natural behaviors.
  • Do not remove anything : It is prohibited to remove any natural or cultural objects from the islands, including rocks, plants, shells or artifacts.
  • No smoking : Smoking is not permitted in any protected area to prevent fire risks and protect the fragile ecosystem.
  • Proper waste disposal : Visitors are required to bring their own rubbish with them and dispose of it responsibly in designated areas to prevent pollution.
  • No introduction of non-native species : It is essential not to bring non-native plants, animals or foods to the islands to preserve the natural balance and prevent the introduction of invasive species.

Plan your trip yourself

Read also: Things to do in Puerto Lopez Ecuador

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *