Should I choose a Cruise or a land-based Galapagos tour?
The famous Galapagos Archipelago is an extraordinary biological and botanical haven, with mystical landscapes and breath-taking ecosystems. Located six hundred miles off the coast of Ecuador, this chain of nineteen islands is one of the greatest natural wonders, inhabiting endemic species of various flora and fauna. Due to the lack of natural predators, the animals in the Galapagos, such as Giant Tortoises and Seahorses, can get friendly with their visitors. This fearless attitude of the animals greatly fascinates the tourists as these creatures do not see humans as a threat.
Galapagos Islands are one of the most volcanically active regions on Earth. It is popular for its fascinating volcanic formations, shores of colored sand, and lucid blue beaches where the currents from three different oceans collide. These islands are a heaven for nature-enthusiasts, where the wildlife and beautiful, picturesque scenery attract tourists from all across the globe. If you are an avid lover of nature and wildlife wonders, then the Galapagos Island tour must be a huge part of your bucket list.
Here is a complete guide of the Galapagos hotel-based tours and the luxury cruises which you can hop on board to explore the islands. And as you plan your vacation, this detailed overview will help you choose the sea or land-based tour opportunities that are offered for this unforgettable trip.
A land- versus a cruise-based adventure of the Galapagos!
The islands offer you two different types of adventure: a sea-based cruise trip or an island-based hotel trip. This means that you can either choose to stay in a live-aboard boat that provides accommodation and transportation between the islands. Or you can also stay in a hotel on an island of your choice and explore the other islands on a daytime boat trip.
Here is a list of a few factors you might want to consider as you make up your mind between
Galapagos cruise and Galapagos hotel-based tour:
A trip to Galapagos Islands can be an expensive one. If you are looking for a budget-friendly but high on an adventure vacation, you can opt for a land-based tour. You need to carefully decide what island you choose to live on. The good part is that different islands have various expense options, with a huge range of prices. This way you have a variety of options in terms of cost management if you want to find one that fits your budget.
However, do note that a sea-based trip will always add up to be more expensive when compared to a hotel stay.
For a faster trip with maximum exploration, a cruise trip is ideal since it forgoes the booking and boarding processes that are repeatedly needed in a land-based trip. Moreover, the cruise boats mostly travel during the night, when the passengers are asleep. That means that the passengers awaken to a new destination every day.
On the other hand, if you prefer a hotel stay during your trip, your safest bet is to pick a hotel that is closest to the harbor. This will cut down your traveling time needed for the day trip on a boat.
On Galapagos land tours, you can access five islands of the archipelago closest to the island if you are staying at a hotel. This way you have a chance to thoroughly enjoy exploration and not miss out on anything during your trip.
On a cruise vacation, you can explore the other islands as well. The live abroad vessels guarantee visits to a lot of different regions of the islands as a vast area can be navigated by sea.
Once you have decided the nature of your trip, whether it is cruise-based or hotel-based, you need to know what each of the two offers in terms of activities and tour packages. Given below is everything you need to know to further understand the difference between both types of tours.
Galapagos land-based tours
People who prefer cruise trips find it rather exciting to sleep on a boat right in the middle of the ocean. Others prefer the relaxed environment of a comfortable hotel bedroom, and if you are among the latter, a land-based tour in Galapagos is the perfect option for you. Many of the islands of the Galapagos Archipelago are not yet inhabited. Only five of the total islands, namely San Cristobal, Santa Cruz, Isabela, Floreana, and Baltra are populated. These are the locations of hotels of all Galapagos land-based tours.
What to Expect
The land-based tour offers the availability of better accommodation services, which have greater access to shops, restaurants, and nightlife. You also get a chance to interact with the local communities of the Galapagos and visit such destinations on the islands.
As an islander, you will get to explore Galapagos by taking day trips on cruise vessels, which will take you to the surrounding islands. This provides you with the opportunity to select which islands you want to visit and when you want to go there. You can stay in a budget-friendly hotel or a luxurious one. Make sure you pick a hotel close to the harbor rather than the highlands if you don’t want to risk missing exciting boat trips.
Listed below are some of the best land-based Galapagos tour packages offered to tourists.
- The Ultimate 8-Day Package
The Ultimate 8-Day Package includes three different hotel categories; tourist class, standard class, and comfort class. These are available at different prices, so you can opt for the one which fits your budget. You can have complete lodging accommodations for seven nights and all of your land and sea transportation will be covered in the tour expense. All activities will be supervised, and a travel guide will accompany you throughout the tour.
One of the most popular destinations of this tour is a visit to Santa Cruz Island on your fourth day. This area is considered the central base of exploration. It is the home to the famous Giant Tortoise, which lives in its natural habitat surrounded by fortified walls. A fascinating fact about the Giant Tortoise is that these creatures are exclusive to the Galapagos so they can’t be found anywhere else on Earth.
- The Four-Day Cristobal Tour
The Four-Day Cristobal Tour is a cost-friendly option if you are looking for a short, land-based Galapagos Island tour. This package includes different hotels with three-night accommodation and complete transportation facilities.
The four-day tour begins from San Cristobal Island, which offers scenic beach views with many swimming, snorkeling, and surfing opportunities. It is famous for its spectacular sea-lion population. If you are interested to learn about the local life of the Galapagos, this destination needs to be on your itinerary. This trip will give you the perfect experience of the pristine waters of the beach, the mesmerizing natural scenery, and the incredible diversity of wildlife.
- The Five-Day Galapagos Diving Tour
If you are looking for a diving tour, then this is designed for you. The Five-Day Galapagos Diving Tour is a hotel-based diving experience of the Galapagos Islands. Inclusive of four-night lodging and transportation, this package also offers full equipment for scuba diving. That includes a 5-7 mm wetsuit, regulator, weight belt, 12 liters tanks, and all other essentials.
With two dives each day, tourists are provided with snacks, fruits, and hot beverages on their day trip cruises. You will be taken to the beautiful calm waters of the Daphne and Gordon Rocks where you must meet the famous sea turtles, sea horses, and even penguins!
Galapagos Luxury Cruises
Unless you have motion, sickness or hate the idea of sailing on a boat for a week, our advice is to book a cruise. Galapagos cruises are a perfect option for those who want to opt for an unforgettable aquatic experience. If you want to see a particular species, your tour operators can help you in that matter. They will pick a time according to your requirements and design an itinerary that will give you the best chance for sightings. That is because some species are seasonal and are found in specific parts of the islands. The best thing about this is that your trip can be customized according to your preference.
What to expect
If you want to make the most out of Galapagos Marine Reserve, a cruise-based trip is your best bet. Liveaboard diving vessels offer great scuba diving opportunities and the chance to travel to the islands that are farther away from your hotel.
These cruises carry fewer passengers, which is beneficial to your trip. This way, you can have a more intimate onboard experience with quality accommodation services. They offer many eco-friendly options which are great to preserve the rich wildlife of the island.
Luxury cruise ships offer high living conditions with well-equipped rooms and entertainment opportunities such as Jacuzzis, dance halls, movies, and sports. For aquatic enthusiasts, the chance to explore the diversity of wildlife beneath the turquoise waves of the oceans is heavenly. Not only do you get to experience this wildlife, but wake up to magical surroundings each day as you cruise your way to various islands and popular destinations of the Galapagos.
Galapagos Diving Cruises
Cruises to Galapagos offer many different cruising options, the most popular being scuba diving. All in all, you get to have a worthwhile onboard experience of all times on these spectacular vessels. Provided below are some of the diving cruise examples, which you can choose from:
- The Galapagos Master
The Galapagos Master is the most eco-friendly of all the Galapagos cruises. It has nine well-equipped cabins with spacious interiors. It is also a great option for scuba diving enthusiasts as it offers a perfect diving platform. The platform ensures the safety of the divers and the nitrox facility allows them to spend more time at the depths of the ocean.
The Galapagos Master has separate decks; sun decks and covered ones. It takes its explorers to a variety of different regions around the archipelagos. A naturalist is also available onboard to help visitors understand the wildlife and distinct nature of the islands.
- The Galapagos Sky
For those seeking the thrill of diving adventures and relaxing cruises over the crystal blue waters, The Galapagos Sky is the perfect, luxurious solution. This fully air-conditioned yacht has eight private cabins, each with a window view. These cabins have attached bathrooms with mirrored cabinets and wardrobes, and all necessary toiletries. In addition to a modern lounge area and fine dining, including delectable wines and liquors, it even has its own onboard video editing equipment facilities.
Not only does it have a mind-blowing dive itinerary at Wolf and Darwin Islands but features two dive masters and two or three dives a day, which is sure to make your Galapagos tour that much more fun.
How to reach the Galapagos Islands?
The only way to travel to the Galapagos Islands is by air. Direct international flights to the islands are unavailable so you need a flight to Ecuador. Once you land in Ecuador, you can find transportation to go to the Galapagos Islands.
Given below is a list of things you need to do to get to the Galapagos Islands.
- You need to decide which mainland city you want to fly to. International flights that are arriving in Ecuador either land in Quito or Guayaquil. So, it is recommended that you land at Guayaquil as the islands are close by.
- Once you have arrived at the mainland, an overnight stay is almost inevitable. This is because the flights from Ecuador to the islands generally take off early in the morning or evening. A buffer day is advised, in case your flight to the Galapagos Islands gets delayed or canceled.
- The next and final step is to fly to the Galapagos. The itinerary of the tour will specify which airport you will land at.
As a place that inspired Darwin’s Theory of Evolution, the Galapagos Archipelagos is a worthy travel destination for all nature enthusiasts and adventure lovers. While exploring these islands, we need to ensure that we maintain their conservation and protection so that the rich wildlife thrive in their natural habitat.
With this travel guide, we hope you find a perfect Galapagos Island Land Tour or Cruises for yourself and have one of the most remarkable adventures of your life as you explore the great Galapagos Archipelago.