Galapagos Travel: Tips on Choosing a Galapagos Yacht
There are a lot of yacht options in the Galapagos and picking the right yacht for your Galapagos adventure can be overwhelming. Adventure Life has a few tips on how to make your vacation plans easier!
And, of course, you are welcome to call at anytime and we can help you find the best trip and ship to fit your needs and budget. 1-800-344-6118
- Call for specific date availability
If you have specific dates that you want to travel (and especially if you are looking at a departure less than 6 months away) please call 1-800-344-6118 to speak with a Galapagos trip coordinator first. Your trip coordinator can look into availability to give you an idea of what options there are, and we will be able to narrow down the list for you. We’ll also get a chance to chat with you and to learn about your expectations for your Galapagos tour.
- Plan ahead
Each year, the yachts in the Galapagos fill up further and further in advance. We recommend reserving spaces on your yacht six months to a year before your departure for the widest array of options. Although you can certainly find space on a yacht with less notice, you may need to be a bit more flexible with your travel dates and yacht preferences. We want you to travel on the yacht that you desire, so let us know and we are happy to help!
- Length of cruise
We offer two different Galapagos cruise lengths: 7 day (5D/4N cruise) and 10 day (8D/7N cruise) tours. We highly recommend doing the longer 8-day 7-night cruise (or 10-day tour). This provides a good overview of the different islands, and you will have a more comprehensive Galapagos experience. The shorter 5-day 4-night cruise (7-day tour) will give you just a taste of what the Galapagos has to offer. Keep in mind that the first and last day of the cruise are basically travel days (sometimes you might not even do an island visit on those days), so the shorter cruise will only give you three full days in the Galapagos. The shorter cruise can be a good option if you have limited time or are doing a combination tour, but if you are going to take the time and money to go to the Galapagos, we encourage you to do the longer cruise in order to make the most of your trip.
- Classes of yachts
You may notice that Galapagos yachts are called by a variety of different category names in guidebooks or on other websites. You may even notice the same yacht can even be classified under several different category names! In order to make the process a little clearer for customers, we've broken the yachts we work with into three categories based on space, amenities and price. Because of the differing quality of boats within the traditional classification systems, we hope that this system will give you the most honest, accurate expectations of a yacht's quality. Our categorization system is intended to make it a little easier to identify those yachts that best match your interests. It is also helpful to figure an estimate of how much you want to spend. This can help your trip coordinator during the search for suitable yachts.
All boats in the Galapagos will go to a good mix of islands, so we recommend not getting overly concerned with specific itineraries. Each one has its own unique and interesting characteristics and you will see most of the major Galapagos highlights on any cruise. It’s generally more worthwhile to see a greater number of islands than it is to get to any one particular island. There are three islands (Genovesa, Isabela, and Fernandina) that are more remote. These are considered desirable to visit, primarily as you tend to see fewer people and they are home to some unique species and landforms. Only some of the Category 2 and 3 boats are going to get to Isabela and Fernandina, so you might have to add a little into your budget if you would like to spend time on those particular islands.
If there is a particular species that you really want to see, we can recommend islands that will provide a good opportunity to see it. Some species (like sea lions or marine iguanas) are found on almost every island and some species (like the flightless cormorant) are only found on one or two islands.
It is also important to note that, while it is rare, itineraries can change (due to weather, changes by the Park Service, etc.), so it’s best to start your cruise with an open mind so as not to be disappointed if the boat is required to make a last-minute adjustment.
- Pondering a sailing yacht?
Sailing yachts in the Galapagos definitely have great aesthetic appeal, but are technically unable to function as they appear. Because the wind conditions in the Galapagos don’t allow for a lot of sailing time, the boats might only raise their sails once or twice for a short period during your cruise. Galapagos yachts have strict itineraries and are going to use their motors most of the time. Another aspect to note is that sailing boats tend to have tighter quarters, as most of the top deck is devoted to the sails.
- Want to go diving?
The intriguing ecosystem of Galapagos’ water world is as fascinating as what can be seen on the land above the water. Both the snorkeling and diving in the Galapagos are considered to be some of the best in the world. But please note that cold water and strong currents make for challenging diving conditions, and inexperienced divers should not attempt diving in the Galapagos. We recommend a minimum of 20 dives experience before doing diving in the Galapagos.
To help preserve the delicate ecosystem, diving has recently been greatly restricted in the islands and there are only a few yachts that are now permitted to have diving departures. Those looking for diving may also be interested in staying at Galapagos hotel; there are some great hotels that offer diving packages to several islands. You can see two of our options here:
Finch Bay Eco-Hotel
These hotels can also arrange excursions to the highlands on Santa Cruz and other multisport activities such as snorkeling, hiking, and mountain biking.
- Worried about seasickness?
Generally the seas are calm in the Galapagos. The yachts gently rock while motoring, but it is uncommon to see big ocean swells. That said, some people are more susceptible to seasickness than others. There are a couple of options for minimizing seasickness. Seas in the Galapagos are traditionally a little rougher in September and October than in other months, so if you tend to get seasickness, perhaps a different time of year would be preferable. Catamaran style boats, as well as the larger boats can also provide a more stable voyage.
- What to Expect on a Galapagos Cruise
Even though this may be called a Galapagos “cruise,” a trip to these islands is an expedition experience. The focus of your tour is going to be on nature and island excursions, and you will find that the boat itself is not the center of your Galapagos experience. Although the more expensive boats tend to be a bit more spacious and have more amenities, all yachts provide a unique small boat experience.
- Want something more active?
In addition to traditional yacht-based trips, we also offer a number of land-based adventure tours in the Galapagos. These trips are great for more active folks, or those who want a more in-depth island experience.
Galapagos Multisport Tour
This trip involves hiking, kayaking, snorkeling, biking and horseback riding--a really great adventure on the Galapagos Islands!
Hiking Galapagos Trip
This tour explores the wonders of the Galapagos on foot.
I hope these tips can help you decide on which boat (or trip!) would be the best fit for you. Where else in the world can you snorkel with sea lions and Galapagos penguins, watch the comical courtship displays of blue-footed boobies, or see a giant tortoise lumber by that may have been alive when Darwin visited these islands?
Most importantly, if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact a member of our staff. We have several specialists that would be happy to answer your questions from personal experience or make recommendations on everything from which boat to choose to what type of footwear to bring. Give us a call at 1-800-344-6118, and we’d love to help you start planning your next vacation to the Galapagos.