Top 10 Things to Do in the Galapagos Islands

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Large turtle at the sea edge on background of a tropical landscape

The Galapagos Islands are a unique island chain off the coast of Ecuador. Use this guide for 10 things you to do in the Galapagos Islands to get the most out of your trip.

The Galapagos Islands were discovered accidentally in 1535 by the then Bishop of Panama, Father Tomas Berlanga.

The Galapagos is a group of strikingly different islands. Some feature magnificent volcanoes, while others boast remote wildlife reserves and idyllic beaches. If you plan to stay for a while, you’ll want to explore all of them.

But if you’re short of time, you’ll need to create a selective itinerary.

Aquatic enthusiasts will relish the waters with sparkling tropical fish during a diving or snorkeling excursion, while intrepid hikers will love exploring Sierra Negra, the active volcano in the Isabela Island.

Wildlife lovers will want to explore the Charles Darwin Research Center in Santa Cruz Island before watching critters bask in the sun along the Tortuga Bay in Santa Cruz.

Whatever pursuits float your boat, just make sure to find the time to explore the Galapagos’ untainted landscapes and interact with its amazing creatures.

Here are 10 of the most exciting things to do in the Galapagos Islands.

Swim With Penguins

The Galapagos Islands are teeming with some of the smallest species of penguins in the world.

The penguins can be seen all year round in their numbers around Isabela Island’s shores. During the dry season (June to December), they flock to the water bodies of Bartolome Island.

A tour of the Galapagos Islands gives you the chance to see quick-moving marine creatures while swimming, or searching for small fish in the waters near Pinnacle Rock.

Snorkeling

One of the best things to do in Galapagos, snorkeling gives you the opportunity to get closer to the marine wildlife. Unlike scuba diving, snorkeling doesn’t require training.

But due to the currents around the Galapagos Islands and the conservation issues about the reef, as well as the Pacific Ocean, you’ll be thoroughly briefed before the activity.

It’s recommended that you find someone to snorkel with, and have an underwater camera for photos of wonderful reef fish, the world’s smallest penguins, and green sea turtles.

Most of the island’s creatures hardly fear humans because they evolved while virtually isolated. However, if you come across a male sea lion, don’t touch him no matter how harmless he appears.

Sea Kayaking

Like snorkeling, you don’t need any prior experience to attempt sea kayaking. You can paddle along the rough shoreline of the islands and explore mangrove estuaries, secret coves, and glorious beaches.

As you navigate the Pacific Ocean, you should see several creatures swimming near you, including sea lions and Galapagos penguins.

But remember that you’ll need permission from Galapagos National Park to take to the waters, so be sure to follow the rules before sea kayaking.

Scuba Diving

To really discover the secret world of the islands, kit up and embark on a scuba diving adventure.

However, it’s best to take scuba diving lessons before you visit the Galapagos to really enjoy this unique destination. Many scuba divers have come across white-tip sharks, penguins,

marine iguanas, Galapagos sharks, golden rays, hammerheads, and whale sharks while diving.

Some of the most exciting spots include Darwin Island and Wolf Island. Please bear in mind that you need to be licensed before you scuba dive.

Meet the Monster Tortoises

The pride and joy of the Galapagos, giant tortoises live in captivity for more than 150 years and can weigh as much as 900 pounds.

At El Chato Tortoise Reserve, you’ll be able to meet these iconic creatures of the Galapagos in the flesh.

Tropical Bird Watching

Apart from monster tortoises, the Galapagos is home to 19 bird species with five of them native. The islands are a dream location for naturalists and bird lovers.

You’ll not only have the chance to watch and photograph the birds but also the opportunity to get closer to these creatures as they’re very comfortable with visitors.

Climb Sierra Negra

The 5-hour hike around this mountain offers nice views of the surrounding ocean and volcanoes, and you can head to the odd-looking, smoking lava location of Volcan Chico.

An expert guide will walk with you and you can discuss the geology as well as flora and fauna around the volcano. Be warned, however, that the black lava steps up the equatorial heat!

Metropolitan Touring

Metropolitan Touring is a 166-foot long deluxe yacht that carries not more than 40 passengers on 4-6 night trips to the Galapagos. The boat contains a formal dining area, a reading room with natural history books, two bars, and trained naturalists who give lectures onboard.

Visiting a different island almost daily, the itinerary usually includes swimming, snorkeling, and glass-bottom boat trips to Galapagos Marine Reserve, which is one of the largest marine reserves in the world.

Apart from the ancient tortoises in the Galapagos, guided hikes often give you the opportunity to see penguins, marine iguanas, and flightless cormorants.

Charles Darwin Research Station

Discover the history of Galapagos Islands and get a glimpse of the endemic flora and fauna, such as the ever-popular giant tortoise and the land iguanas.

The Charles Darwin Research Station is the center of the Galapagos conservation research and has plenty of information about the distinctive and fragile ecosystems you’ll visit in this group of islands.

Before you leave, you can stop at the lava-rock beach overlooking the Santa Fe Island and Academy Bay.

Whale Watching

The Galapagos Marine Reserve is home to a wide range of whales. About 24 different whale species have been spotted here, and it’s highly likely that there are other species yet to be identified.

The best months to watch whales in these islands are July through to September. During these months, rich nutrients and upwelling’s rise to the water surface and the whales snap them up.

Don’t Know What Things to do in the Galapagos Islands?

Planning to travel to Ecuador on your next vacation? Looking for somewhere to go to for a memorable experience? Head over to the Galapagos Islands.

For additional information about things to do in the Galapagos Islands and discovering firsthand the wildlife, destinations, and activities that a Galapagos holiday has to offer, make sure to check out our blog.


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