11 Best Things To Do in the Galapagos Islands
Also known as the Enchanted Isles, the Galapagos Islands are the most extraordinary archipelagos in the world. Most of the landmass of the islands is a national park while the surrounding waters make up a marine biosphere reserve. This is perfect for those who want to have the best chance to see the biodiverse habitat of the Galapagos Islands.
As it is mostly uninhabited by humans, it has the most varied range of flora and fauna, with a multitude of species that fascinate tourists from all over the globe. The islands are known for their exotic wildlife and extensive botany. As a volcanic region, the unique geology of the land makes it one of the greatest panoramic sites in the world.
If you are planning a trip to the magnificent Galapagos Archipelago, then you are undoubtedly a nature-enthusiast. This article offers you a variety of adventures you can try at the Galapagos Islands. So, here is a list of the eleven best things you need to do when you visit the Galapagos Islands.
1. Beach Day at Tortuga Bay
A tour of Tortuga Bay is ranked at the top of best things to do at the Galapagos Islands. This beach is named after the magnificent black turtles which nest here; where you can observe these majestic creatures as they come and go across the white sand beaches. The bay is also quite popular among bird watchers, as it is home to an array of different birds including pelicans and finches. If you are lucky, you can even spot beautiful flamingos in the salt lagoons that merge into the mangrove’s forests.
Located on Santa Cruz Island, this beach is one of the most gorgeous places on Earth. It is a long, fabulous stretch with stunning, picturesque scenery and is the perfect spot for sunbathing in the warmth of the equatorial sun. With pristine blue water currents and glistening white sand, Tortuga Bay cannot be missed when you visit the Galapagos Islands.
2. Tortoise Meet-up: El Chato Tortoise Reserve
The name Galapagos means Tortoise, and the fact that the archipelago is named after these creatures is reason enough to visit them. The hype of these beautiful, historic creatures spans across the world, so much so that visiting this animal is listed as the second-best thing to do on the islands.
These huge, ancient reptiles can grow over a meter long. It is believed that it is due to the condition called Island Gigantism, which causes the local creatures to grow to enormous sizes as compared to their mainland counterparts. Visitors praise this tortoise sanctuary and are often fascinated by the friendly nature of the tortoise. That is because they are not familiar with the concept of predator fear as they live a life free of any natural enemies to conserve their population. The El Chato land also features multiple tunnels made of cool hardened lava which you will enjoy exploring as you make your visit to the tortoise reserve.
3. Exploring the Isabela Island
A trip to this archipelago without visiting its largest island is incomplete. Isabela Island is one of the most intriguing tropical islands not only in the Galapagos but all over the world. This region is considered one of the most volcanically active regions on Earth. It also hosts a famous histological site, called the ‘Walls of Tears’, which was built by prisoners in the darker ancient times.
Visitors are inclined towards its exploration due to its unique geology that dates back to over a million years. It is popularly known as the ‘Paradise of Galapagos’, with rich nature and wildlife dominating its landscape. It is home to many beautiful beaches and crystal-clear canals flowing through the lava rocks. All of these reasons are what make its exploration one of the best things you need to include in your travel itinerary.
4. Hiking at the Sierra Negra Volcano
As the second-largest volcano caldera in the world, a hike to Sierra Negra on Isabela Island is something you simply can’t miss as a traveler. Although the volcanoes remain active to date, there hasn’t been any volcanic activity since 2005. This destination is a majestic landmark of the Galapagos Island with unique trails in the black and red lava fields, alongside the glowing fumaroles and expansive craters.
Out of all the six volcanoes in the Galapagos, this is the only one which the visitors are allowed to hike with a guide accompanied at all times. It is a six-hour hike with spectacular views overlooking the caldera. On one side you can see the crater and the luscious island while the turquoise waves of the ocean hit the coastline on the other. Most of the time, the hikers experience a drizzle during their hike which makes the overall experience of the volcano tour pleasant for all!
5. Garrapatero Beach
Visiting El Garrapatero Beach is another adventure-packed destination on Santa Cruz Island. Its habitat is somewhat the same as Tortuga Bay. It delivers a resplendent view, and its subtle waves make it perfect for dips and swimming in the peaceful setting of this admirable beach.
This place is an extraordinary bonus for those who seek haven in bird-watching. A freshwater lagoon is present behind the beach area where flamingos, black-necked ducklings, Galapagos finches, and migratory birds are abundant. Popular for its tranquility, it is yet another tropical paradise surrounded by mangrove forests, which is home to an array of wildlife.
6. Behold the Pinnacle Rock: Bartolome Island
As an island that is the most visited and photographed, a visit to Bartolome is almost inevitable while you’re in the Galapagos. It is a barren islet in the Sullivan Bay and houses its most distinguishing feature, the Pinnacle Rock. This rock is a natural wonder that was formed right in the middle of the ocean by an underwater volcano. You can swim and snorkel around the Pinnacle Rock with colorful fish, sea lions, and even the playful Galapagos penguins, which are the second smallest penguin species in the world.
Some visitors also prefer to take a short hike to a summit opposite the Pinnacle Rock. From the top, you get a magnificent view of lava cones and sprays that are the result of volcanic eruptions. To make it more worthwhile, the climb gives a view of the rich wildlife and as you reach the summit, the scenic panorama of Santiago Island spreads out right before your eyes!
7. Scouting the South Seymour Island
South Seymour Island is commonly known as the Ecuadorian Military Base. It has unique geology when compared to its neighboring islands. Unlike others, it has a flat and elevated terrain. If you’re traveling to the Galapagos, don’t miss out on the opportunities this island has to offer. It is well-known for its diversity in flora consisting of salt bushes, prickly pear cactus, and palo santo trees.
The most intriguing fact about this place is the renowned Blue-footed Boobies that inhabit the island. As you follow the trails, you might catch their famous courtship dance which is one of the most fascinating things to witness.
8. Visit the Hidden Gem: Canal De Amor
Although it is not the most frequently visited spot when traveling to the Galapagos, this is one of the most gorgeous places on the Santa Cruz Islands. It is admired for its tranquil vibe and fresh, breezy atmosphere. This hidden channel is a breathtaking natural wonder, with glorious turquoise water flowing between the mountainous rocks. You can take a swim and snorkel in the water surrounded by peaceful scenery alongside shorebirds, reef sharks, and lush green flora.
Also known as the Love Channel, this is a great place to attain peace of mind and take in the natural wonders of the Galapagos Islands around you. You can enjoy a romantic getaway or spend time having a picnic with your loved ones.
9. The Lagoon Swim: El Junco, Cristobal Island
Nothing compares to the vibe of a freshwater body and if you prefer lagoons over the much larger water bodies, a visit to this place is guaranteed to make your visit special. El Junco is the only permanent pure water lake of the Galapagos, and rainfall is the only source of its rehydration.
It is a beautiful panorama with lush green vegetation surrounding the lake and the perfect place to spot frigate birds, pintail ducks, and common gallinules. Thick mist consumes the surrounding green hills, making the scenery breathtaking; therefore, wet weather conditions are common in this area. The whole atmosphere of raining clouds among the luscious flora makes this place one of the most heavenly spots of Cristobal Island. Not to mention, if you are fond of bird watching, you will not help but praise this region for its diverse bird population.
10. The Coral Sand Beach Tour: Cerro Brujo
Located on the northern coastline of San Cristobal Island, spectacular volcanic formations, dramatic cliffs, tide pools, crystal clear waters, and gorgeous coral white sand, The Coral Sand Beach is one of the most visited places of the Galapagos.
Cerro Brujo or the Witch’s Hill is home to sea lions, turtles, marine iguanas, brown pelicans, red crabs, and stingrays which can be seen as you snorkel in the crystal-clear waters. The magnificent Kicker Rock, which is an eroded lava tuff cone, is one of the best snorkeling spots and fairly popular amongst tourists. Some say the rock is shaped like a shoe while others claim it to be a sleeping lion. We encourage you to take a tour to Cerro Brujo to see for yourself and answer the mystery question: what shape do you think the Kicker Rock resembles?
11. Scuba Diving: Wolf and Darwin Islands
Wolf and Darwin Islands are uninhabitable islands of the archipelago: they are dormant volcano tops and comparatively much smaller than other islands. If you are a scuba diving enthusiast, then visiting these regions will provide you with an incredible opportunity. These are considered as one of the best diving sites all over the world and have a huge diversity of marine life to swim with. However, the opportunity to go here is only available for those who are cruising liveaboard scuba diving boats.
El Derrumbe is hands down the best diving point of the Galapagos. This area has an abundance of sharks, and the studies show that it is probably home to the largest biomass of shark population in the world. Other colorful marine life also inhabits these waters, giving a mystical underwater experience to divers.
You must keep in mind that the currents here can get rough, thus you should select this audacious site only if you are confident about your scuba diving skills.
Are you ready to check the Galapagos Islands on your bucket list? We’d love to help you plan the perfect Galapagos vacation.
For more information about Ecuador and Galapagos Island tours, contact us by WhatsApp (+593) 997677662 or email [email protected] – Your next trip can also easily be customized, by combining with the Galapagos Islands, mainland Ecuador or Peru.