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One of the most exciting and adventurous trips in the world is a Galapagos vacation. The Galapagos Islands are one of the most treasured areas of the world, mostly untouched by human contact. This allows adventurers, researchers, and scientists alike to view the world in its most natural habitat.

Galapagos Vacation: Everything You Need To Know Before Going

The Galapagos Islands are famously known for their discovery by Charles Darwin and a large number of endemic animals on the islands, giving way to his theory of evolution and providing evidence that supports it. Since then, researchers, scientists, and tourists have flocked to the islands to see nature’s natural selection at its finest and most primal.

Galapagos Vacation: Everything You Need To Know Before Going

There are several different Galapagos vacation tours and options for tourists that offer different types of adventures and accommodations. On these tours, you can study the animals and the geography of the 22 different islands, as well as have some adventurous activities like kayaking, snorkeling, sailing, and more. Many of the cruises offer voyages to a handful of the islands, and they can last anywhere from 5 days to over 20 days.

Galapagos Vacation: Everything You Need To Know Before Going

Read more about booking a Galapagos Island cruise here.

Where are the Galapagos Islands Located?

The Galapagos Islands are located off about 563 miles (906 km) off the coast of Ecuador. They are an archipelago of 22 volcanic islands that span the equator on both sides. There are 18 main islands and 4 minor islands which stretch across both the northern and southern hemisphere. The northernmost island is Darwin Island while the southernmost island is Espanola Island. They are about 127 miles (220 km) away from one another. Volcan Wolf and Volcan Ecuador, two volcanoes on Isla Isabela, rest directly on the equator.

Galapagos Vacation: Everything You Need To Know Before Going

All 22 islands are considered to be in the South Pacific Ocean. There are several smaller islands that have since disappeared under the ocean surfaces due to rising water levels. There are currently 9 active volcanoes in the archipelago of the Galapagos Islands with 6 of those volcanos located on Isla Isabela. There are several other dormant volcanoes located on various islands throughout the Galapagos.

Galapagos Vacation: Everything You Need To Know Before Going
Galapagos Vacation: Everything You Need To Know Before Going
Galapagos Vacation: Everything You Need To Know Before Going

Traveling to the Galapagos Islands

Travel to the Galapagos Islands requires extensive planning. Not only are you trying to figure out how to get there but you also need to know when to go based on the things you want to do and see, the activities available to you, and how many days you should dedicate to your travels.

Galapagos Vacation: Everything You Need To Know Before Going

There are two seasons in the Galapagos Islands: the rainy season and the dry season. The rainy season is warmer while the dry season is often cooler. Rainy season runs from December until June while the dry season is generally June to November. Your personal comfort, as well as the activities you want to enjoy while on your Galapagos Island vacation, will determine which months you plan your travel.

The Rainy Season in the Galapagos Islands

The rainy season in the Galapagos Islands runs from December until June. It is generally warmer during these months as well. Mating season and nesting is common in the Galapagos during this time of the year. The end of December and the beginning of January is when visitors will see the infamous Galapagos giant tortoises and green sea turtles lay their eggs on the beaches.

Galapagos Vacation: Everything You Need To Know Before Going

Baby green sea turtles hatch about two months after the eggs are laid while the giant tortoise babies can be seen hatching and running into the ocean any time between December and March. Iguanas also being nesting during this time, and you might see the Galapagos penguins during their migration from the Bartolome sland to the islands of Isabela and Fernandia. It is also a great time for bird enthusiasts as you might be able to see the mating dance of the blue-footed boobies.

Galapagos Vacation: Everything You Need To Know Before Going

For those who love a good swim or snorkel, the rainy season is the best time to go because the water temperatures are significantly warmer. It is also a great time for kayaking, diving, and general outdoor activities.

The Dry Season in the Galapagos Islands

Since much of the mating and nesting is done during the rainy season and the beginning of the dry season, the months of September through November means there are many babies all over the Galapagos islands. During the earlier dry months, you might be able to see penguins courting and sea lions mating too.

Galapagos Vacation: Everything You Need To Know Before Going

The dry months are still great water activities, especially experienced divers. The sea is filled with marine life during this time including tropical fish, hammerhead sharks, and pods of dolphins. The northernmost islands oftentimes have whale sharks as well. If you are looking for more land-based activities, the dry months are a great time to visit dormant volcano craters and the famous lava tunnels.

Galapagos Vacation Travel Arrangments

You will most likely want to fly into Santa Cruze or NAME Island. These are the main two airports in and out of the Galapagos. There are few different airlines that you can book a round trip out of Quito or Guayaquil, Ecuador.

Galapagos Vacation: Everything You Need To Know Before Going

There is a ferry connecting these two islands if you find a cheaper flight out of the other airport or something that flies to the connecting city you need. This is a great tip since you’ll be able to search both airports for the best option to get home.

Galapagos Vacation: Everything You Need To Know Before Going

The Galagos Islands have a few immigration rules that are different than other places you may have visited. There is a strict, no outside food or animal, the policy when entering. There is also a mandatory $100 per person fee that is collected that goes directly to the Galapagos National Park.

Galapagos Vacation: Everything You Need To Know Before Going
READ MORE: Ecuador Tours with Latin Trails

What You Should Be Doing While on the Galapagos Islands

The Best Galapagos Island Itinerary

It can be hard to narrow down exactly what you want to do in the Galapagos Islands when there are so many options for visitors. Although you could spend several weeks exploring all of the islands and everything they have to offer, it is recommended that you spend a minimum of 3 nights and 4 days in order to take in some of the largest and most popular activities.

Galapagos Vacation: Everything You Need To Know Before Going

Although there are over 27 Galapagos Island, many of the shorter itineraries take place on and around a few of the most popular islands:

Isabela Island– This is the largest island, and it has white sandy beaches and beautiful landscapes that are unlike anywhere else. You can also find the largest community of Galapagos penguins here.

Galapagos Vacation: Everything You Need To Know Before Going

Floreana Island- This island is perfect for those who love to snorkel or scuba. The lagoon has a large community of flamingos and the island also houses the first post office of the islands, Post Office Bay, established in 1793 by whalers.

San Cristobal- This is one of the most established and populated islands with amenities and accommodations for visitors. It is known for amazing surf conditions and is a relaxing port that has iguanas and sea lions relaxing around you while you enjoy the views.

Galapagos Vacation: Everything You Need To Know Before Going

Espanola Island– Espanola is at the southern end of the archipelago and is considered one of the most spectacular spots of all the Galapagos. It is a highly isolated island and here you can see marine iguanas, blue-footed boobies, and waved albatross. It also houses Punta Suarez and Bahia Gardner- two of the most beautiful beaches in the world.

Galapagos Vacation: Everything You Need To Know Before Going

Bartolome– Bartolome is one of the youngest islands in all the archipelago and houses a volcanic cone that you can climb and view other surrounding islands. The north side has a quiet beach for swimming and diving with fish, turtles, and penguins while the south side has Pinnacle Rock- a large geographic formation formed by lava and one of the symbols of the Galapagos.

Galapagos Vacation: Everything You Need To Know Before Going

Santa Cruz– Santa Cruz Island is often visited by vacationers because it offers two unique eco-systems on either side of the island. The coasts provide two different temperatures and vegetation, allowing you to feel as if you are in two different worlds at once. Darwin’s finches, warblers, and flycatchers can all be seen here.

Your chosen itinerary will depend greatly on the kinds of things you want to see and do. Latin Trails Tours is one of the most popular travels and tourism group that provides tours throughout the Galapagos Islands. They have several different itineraries available to you based on your personal preferences for activities and the length of time you wish to spend on your vacation.

The Best Activities on the Galapagos Islands

There are so many activities to choose from when visiting the Galapagos Islands. There is snorkeling, kayaking, and diving as well as more educational and landlocked activities like hiking up dormant volcanoes or observing the most pristine animals in their natural habitats. Your itinerary will depend on some of the activities that you want to do while you’re on your Galapagos Island vacation. Here are some of the most popular:

Galapagos Vacation: Everything You Need To Know Before Going

Snorkeling

Snorkeling and diving are one of the biggest draws to the Galapagos Islands. Avid divers often come to see some of the most exotic species of marine life in their most natural habitat unabashed by visitors. Here are some of the best spots for snorkeling in the Galapagos:

Galapagos Vacation: Everything You Need To Know Before Going
Galapagos Vacation: Everything You Need To Know Before Going

Devil’s Crown on Floreana Island

The Devil’s Crown on Floreana Island is a semi-submerged volcanic crater. The interior of the crater is filled with pristine sand and protected from waves. There are underwater tunnels that house sea turtles and colorful fish, as well as the occasional shark.

Galapagos Vacation: Everything You Need To Know Before Going

Kicker Rock in San Cristobal

San Cristobal is known for the sea lions that inhabit the island, and divers might see them playing underwater. Snorkelers can also get up-close look fur seals or stingrays. The water is relatively shallow, too, so it is perfect for beginners. Punta Carola is also off San Cristobal and is a great place for snorkeling, surfing, and swimming.

Galapagos Vacation: Everything You Need To Know Before Going

Tintoreras off Isabela Island

Isabela Island is the largest island in the Galapagos, and onshore you can see iguanas, blue-footed boobies, and penguins. The marine wildlife underwater is just as spectacular with amazing species of flora and animals.

Galapagos Vacation: Everything You Need To Know Before Going

Punta Espinoza off Fernandina Island

This snorkeling and diving point is located on the west side of Fernandina Island off the Bolivar Canal. Here divers can see penguins, sea lions, iguanas, sea turtles, and more.





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