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Galapagos Cruises & Tours

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Meeting giant tortoises in the Galapagos
DarAnne Dunning
Plenty of wildlife and birdwatching in the Galapagos Islands
Santa Cruz Island
Charlotte Bleijenberg
Brilliantly colored flamingos
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A Galapagos cruise or tour is an unparalleled wildlife experience on planet Earth. You'll snorkel with playful sea lions, admire amusing blue-footed boobies, and marvel at ancient tortoises. Choose from only the safest small yachts, catamarans, & small cruise ships in the Galapagos hand selected by our team of Galapagos experts. Nowadays, Galapagos tour options aren't limited to taking a cruise, as land-based tours and active adventure trips have become increasingly popular. We specialize in luxury Galapagos cruises, and private charters and offer trips for all price ranges. The Galapagos were our first destination offered over twenty years ago, and for most, exploring this archipelago is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, so getting every aspect of your trip perfect is our top priority. Contact us for a free personalized itinerary.
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10 Best Galapagos Cruises & Tours for 2024-2025

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Top 6 Galapagos Private Yacht Charters for Groups

Trip NameFromDaysNext DepartureSummary
Private Charter - Eastern Islands II$495205Jun 27, 2024Embark Archipel I for a 5-day private cruise through the eastern islands of the Galapagos. Enjoy the unique green sand beaches of Cormorant point, …
Private Charter - Central Islands Aboard Calipso$604505Jun 27, 2024Board the Calipso for an incredible 5-day private cruise of the Eastern and Central islands of the Galapagos archipelago. Enjoy the opportunity to …
Private Charter - Islands Circumnavigation - West Aboard Ocean Spray$1237908Jun 29, 2024Circumnavigate the Western Islands of the Galapagos on this 8-day private charter cruise aboard the Ocean Spray. Explore striking volcanic landscapes …
Private Charter - Western Islands Aboard Bonita$592807Jul 21, 2024Embark on a Galapagos cruise aboard the Bonita for a private expedition. This 7-day tour of the western islands takes you to white beaches, secluded …
Private Charter - Luxurious Southern Galapagos Cruise Aboard Ocean Spray$932906Jun 20, 2024Board the Ocean Spray, a 16-passenger luxury catamaran, on this 6-day private cruise aboard one of the best yachts in Galapagos. See giant Galapagos …
Private Charter - Western Islands Aboard Ocean Spray$932906Jun 15, 2024Experience Galapagos penguins, Elizabeth Bay, and more on a cruise through the Western Islands aboard Ocean Spray. Enjoy hiking, snorkeling and …

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8 Last Minute Galapagos Cruise Deals in 2024

Trip NameSaveFromDaysNext DepartureSummary
Northern IslandsCustom Label$25124Jun 28, 2024Journey to the Northern Islands of the Galapagos on this 5-day cruise aboard the Seaman Journey.
Central East & Southern IslandsCustom Label$48008Jun 20, 2024Onboard the M/Y Monserrat, embark on an 8-day fascinating trip that displays the Galapagos Islands' diverse landscapes and wildlife-rich beaches. …
Eastern IslandsCustom Label$21504Jun 24, 2024Embark on a 4-day exciting cruise and enjoy the beautiful turquoise water and its incredible sea life that captures the best of the Galapagos …
Southern IslandsCustom Label$33505Jun 17, 2024Journey to the Southern Islands of the Galapagos on this 5-day cruise aboard the Seaman Journey.
Northwestern IslandsCustom Label$48008Jun 27, 2024Sail to one of the most unique archipelagos in the world on this 8-day Northwestern Galapagos Islands expedition aboard M/Y Monserrat. Discover the …
North & Central IslandsCustom Label$21504Jun 27, 2024Embark on a 4-day expedition and discover the wonders of the Galapagos Islands aboard M/Y Monserrat. Enjoy the volcanic formations and marine life of …
Western IslandsCustom Label$58638Jun 21, 2024Journey to the western islands of the Galapagos on this 8-day cruise on the Seaman Journey.
Western IslandsCustom Label$32005Jun 16, 2024Discover the most unique archipelagos on this 5-day cruise aboard M/Y Monserrat. Sail through the beautiful landscapes and see a wide range of …
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Planning Your Galapagos Trip

Travel Advisories for the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador 

There are Entry Requirements and Restrictions to the Galapagos including completing this Transit Control Card form online before you arrive to the airport in Quito or Guayaquil for your flight to the Galapagos Islands.

See more travel advisory info at the US embassy site and Ecuador travel advisories for the UK, Canada, and Australia.

Contact one of our Galapagos Experts for up-to-the-minute conditions. 
Choosing Between Large vs. Small Boats in Galapagos

The maximum number of passengers allowed on a cruise ship in Galapagos is 100 people, so "large" in the Galapagos is actually "small" compared to huge cruise ships in the Caribbean or other major cruise destinations.

Small yachts in Galapagos tend to carry 16 to 20 passengers and the larger ships carry from about 32 to 100 passengers.

The social dynamic on smaller vs. larger ships is different, and you'll get to know your shipmates on smaller boats. Larger ships tend to have a doctor onboard and multiple guides so that you may choose between multiple activities each day.

The stability of a boat in the water is another important factor in the sometimes choppy waters of the Galapagos. Catamarans and larger cruise ships tend to be more stable in the water, whereas smaller single-hulled boats tend to rock more.

Galapagos Cruises vs Galapagos Land-Based Tours 

Taking a Galapagos cruise is the most popular way to tour the Galapagos Islands, but in recent years, Galapagos land tours that stay in hotels at night, then visit different visitor spots and islands during the day, have become more popular. Below are several factors you'll want to consider when deciding.

Cost: In general, cruises are more costly than hotel-based Galapagos tours. That said, the less expensive boats may work out to less per day than an all inclusive tour that stays in luxury hotels. For cost, the edge goes to land-based tours.

Number and Diversity of National Park Visits: On a cruise, itineraries usually visit one official visitor's spot in the morning and a second spot in the afternoon. During the night, the boats sail to the next island which saves on transportation time. On land-based tours, you lose the sailing during the night, but a well designed land-based tour can efficiently see almost as much as you would on most, especially shorter, cruises. Here the edge goes to cruises.

Still not sure which is the best way for you to visit the Galapagos? Contact one of our Galapagos specialists who can answer your questions and help you plan the perfect trip to Galapagos. 

Types of Galapagos Trips to Choose From

  • Galapagos Wildlife & Safari Exploration: Delve into the heart of the Galapagos' diverse ecosystems. Witness an array of iconic wildlife, from giant tortoises to blue-footed boobies, while exploring both by sea and land.
  • Galapagos Small Ship Cruises: Join a wide array of expedition cruise ships designed for avid explorers. These cruises offer in-depth insights into the archipelago's unique flora and fauna. Expert naturalists guide you through iconic sites, providing a comprehensive Galapagos experience.
  • Galapagos Private Yacht Charter: Enjoy an exclusive adventure with a private yacht charter. Tailor your itinerary, explore secluded spots, and indulge in personalized service, creating an intimate and unforgettable Galapagos experience.
  • Galapagos Luxury Cruises and Tours: Experience the Galapagos Islands in opulence. Luxury cruises and land tours offer premium accommodations, gourmet dining, and curated experiences, ensuring a lavish exploration of this natural wonder.
  • Galapagos Family Cruises and Tours: Create lasting memories with family-friendly tours and cruises. These specially crafted journeys cater to all ages. Enjoy interactive learning experiences and a chance for families to bond amidst the incredible landscapes.
  • Galapagos Solo Travel: Embark on a solo adventure in the Galapagos. Join group tours or cruises that cater to independent travelers, providing opportunities to meet like-minded explorers while enjoying the freedom of solo exploration.
  • Galapagos Land Tours: Discover the Galapagos Islands through land-based adventures. Immerse yourself in the unique landscapes, visit conservation sites, and witness the endemic wildlife on guided tours.
  • Galapagos Honeymoon Tours and Cruises: Celebrate love amidst the enchanting Galapagos scenery. Honeymoon tours and cruises offer romantic escapes, combining exploration, breathtaking landscapes, and intimate experiences.
  • Galapagos Active Trips: Satiate your adventurous spirit with active trips that combine exploration with thrilling activities. From snorkeling in pristine waters to hiking volcanic landscapes, these tours cater to active travelers.
  • Galapagos Beaches: Whether on a land tour or a Galapagos cruise, you will visit several beaches during your stay. Bask in the sun, admire the different-colored sands of the archipelago, and go snorkeling with sea turtles and sea lions. Enjoy relaxation and water-based activities while exploring the unique coastal environments.
  • Galapagos Most Popular Cruises and Land Tours: Opt for the tried-and-true experiences with Adventure Life’s most popular cruises and land tours. These journeys cover must-visit sites, ensuring a comprehensive exploration of the Galapagos Islands.
Choosing a Galapagos Yacht or a Galapagos Cruise Ship

With so many boats and cruise options, it's hard to know where to start when planning a trip to Galapagos. Follow these tips and factors to take into consideration when choosing your cruise.
  • Luxury Galapagos Cruises have the top-rated naturalist guides, superb cuisine, and spacious, stylish cabins.
  • Galapagos Catamarans may have the best of both worlds. Catamarans are small 16-passenger yachts that are stable in the water and the most luxurious vessels to sail the Galapagos. 
  • Galapagos Cruise Ships have spacious cabins and public areas. Some have doctors onboard and may be a good choice for physically challenged travelers. 
  • Budget Cruises make it possible to experience Galapagos on a budget. One should be very careful when choosing a low-price Galapagos cruise, but we only work with the best boats and take the risk out of choosing a trip that won't break your budget.
How Much Does a Galapagos Cruise Cost?

The average cost of a 5-day Galapagos cruise is about USD 3000. The least expensive Galapagos cruises begin at around USD 1000 for a 4-day cruise and can go up to around $10000 per person for an 8-day luxury-class cruise. Chartering a private Galapagos cruise starts at about $40,000.

Additional fees: Before boarding your Galapagos flight in Quito or Guayaquil, a $20 US fee must be paid to obtain a Transit Control Card in order to be allowed to travel to the National Park. The second entry requirement is the National Park Fee. Park authorities will collect this fee of $100 US upon arrival to the islands. Remember this fee must be paid in cash. No visitor is exempt. 

The category of the boat and duration of the cruise are the two most important factors. The cost of your cruise increases nearly proportionally to the number of days. That said, most travelers find that:
  • 4-day cruise is too short as the first and last days are used to fly from the mainland of Ecuador, so you only have two full days on the islands, which is not enough!
  • A 5-day cruise (with three full days on the islands) will be sufficient for some travelers.
  • An 8-day cruise is the perfect balance of enough time on the islands vs. cost.  
  • The 15-day cruises offer complete circumnavigations of the islands for those with ample time and budget.
Staying at a hotel on one of the inhabited islands for a few days before or after your cruise is a way to lower the cost per day.
Likewise,  land-based tours where you sleep in hotels at night and explore the National Park during the day tend to be more economical.
How to get to the Galapagos Islands?

Since there are no international flights coming into Galapagos, you will first need to fly to mainland Ecuador. Flights originate in the country's capital of Quito, and stop in the city of Guayaquil before heading to airports on Baltra or San Cristobal Islands. The reason why there are no direct international flights is because the archipelago is a protected National Park, so there are strict regulations that airlines must fulfill.

At the airport: Before boarding your flight to the Galapagos Islands, whether at the Mariscal Sucre Airport in Quito or José Joaquín de Olmedo Airport in Guayaquil you will have to go through a couple of additional procedures before embarking your plane in order to comply with the Galapagos National Park regulations. Before checking in your luggage you have to take out your Transit Control Card, emitted right there at the airport. This has a cost of $20. When traveling with an agency this fee will probably be included in your trip. Afterwards, National Park authorities will carry out a luggage check to ensure no prohibited items and products enter the islands. Ask your guide or agency about these items before your flight. Only then are you ready to approach the airline's booth to finish your check in process. 

On the plane: Right before landing on the Galapagos Islands, the crew will spray storage compartments and the plane's floor with a non-toxic product as a measure to avoid foreign elements getting into the archipelago.
IMPORTANT: Remember to keep your Transit Control Card with your personal documents, as the card will be asked by authorities at the Galapagos Airport before flying back to the continent.

- United StatesCheck the US embassy recommendations for travel to Ecuador. There are direct flights from New York, Miami, Atlanta, Houston, and Dallas to Quito and Guayaquil.

- Canada - Check the Canadian embassy recommendations for travel to Ecuador. There are no direct flights from Canada to Ecuador, most flights will likely connect with the cities mentioned above unless it stops in a Central American country.

- United Kingdom - Check the United Kingdom's embassy recommendations for travel to Ecuador. There are one-stop flights from many cities in the UK to Ecuador, the cheapest normally being from London.

- Australia - Check the Australian embassy recommendations for travel to Ecuador. There are only 2 stop flights from Australian cities to Ecuador, if you need any further help don't hesitate to contact our travel specialists for assistance.

A Typical Day Aboard a Galapagos Cruise

AM: Most excursions begin between 5:30 and 8:00 am, ensuring that you can see the wildlife when it's most active and the temperature is not so warm, particularly during the wet season. One of the main reasons for the early start is to ensure that the islands' activities can be fully enjoyed throughout the day. By starting early, you can fit in multiple activities and experiences, such as hikes, snorkeling, and wildlife encounters. Additionally, scheduling the visits to the islands between Galapagos cruises ensures that wildlife and conservation are protected, while allowing for a more intimate and private experience.

After waking up early, you’ll fuel up for the day ahead with a hearty breakfast before taking a motorized dinghy to your first island destination. Depending on the location, you may have a wet or dry landing, where you either disembark onto a pier or wade ashore in shallow waters. Once ashore, your naturalist guide will lead you on a short walk along marked paths while explaining the local flora, fauna, and geology. Along the way, you’ll encounter an array of unique and awe-inspiring creatures, such as mating birds or sunbathing sea lions.

Return to your Galapagos cruise after the morning excursion for a snack and lunch before sailing to the next destination. If the next location is nearby, you may have the opportunity to snorkel and explore the diverse underwater world surrounding the islands before lunch. Borrowing equipment from your cruise is usually an option, but make sure to check beforehand. Snorkeling with a naturalist guide is an experience you won’t forget, as they’ll point out amazing sights such as sharks, rays, and turtles.

After the planned activity, you’ll set sail again. Relax on the deck, scan the water for dolphins, or watch frigate birds flying overhead. When you arrive at your next destination, you’ll have a similar routine to your first visit, with the possibility of a walk, a beach snorkel, or some other activity, depending on the location. 

PM: If the next location is further away you will have the chance to enjoy some time on board and have lunch first before the next excursion.  After admiring the unique wildlife and amazing scenery you will sail back to the ship for a refreshing shower followed by dinner. Typically, the naturalist guide will brief you on the next day’s activities after dinner, explaining what you can expect to see and what to bring. Then, you can choose to unwind with a beverage or a book, you can take the opportunity to meet fellow travelers, or head to your cabin to rest and prepare for another unforgettable day.

Each day on one of the best Galapagos cruises is unique, however, itineraries will be composed of days as the one described above. This ensures that you have the opportunity to explore as much of the islands as possible while enjoying multiple experiences. The beauty of a Galapagos cruise is that you never know what you’ll encounter, and each day is filled with endless possibilities.
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Galapagos Travel Tips & Cruise Guide

What is the Galapagos National Park?

The Galapagos National Park Reserve, comprising 97% of the Galapagos archipelago, is a natural paradise with inhabited areas and accommodations limited to the remaining 3% of the land area. The park, established in 1959 as Ecuador's first national park, is staffed by 350 official park workers and protects over 300 square miles of land and 53,000 square miles of ocean. The 127 islands and islets within the archipelago are home to over 2,000 species of animals, including Darwin's finches, giant tortoises, marine iguanas, and flightless cormorants. The park also conducts scientific research, manages conservation projects, and collaborates with local communities to promote environmental education and awareness. Additionally, in 1978, the Galapagos Islands were named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. All visitors are required to pay a USD $100 entrance fee to fund conservation projects that maintain and develop these fragile ecosystems. 

To minimize the impact of tourism, the park has implemented strict regulations, such as: 
  • Limiting the number of visitors to most sites, 
  • Prohibiting non-native species introduction.
  • Requiring park-certified guides on expeditions and during all activities to ensure visitor safety and wildlife protection. 
  • No feeding or touching the animals under any circumstances.
  • No drones and flash photography that could disturb the local wildlife.
  • Forbidding the purchase of products or souvenirs made from local flora or fauna.


Top Galapagos Species

  • Blue-Footed Booby: This colorful bird can be found throughout the archipelago. Recognized for their striking blue feet, these seabirds engage in captivating courtship displays and impressive diving skills.
  • Waved Albatross: Española stands as the exclusive habitat for the Waved Albatross, showcasing its impressive wingspan of up to 8 feet. Witness the captivating courtship dance during the breeding season, a truly unique spectacle.
  • Flightless Cormorant: Isabela and Fernandina host the unique Flightless Cormorant. This endemic species sacrificed flight for enhanced diving abilities. Witness their distinctive swimming style near volcanic shores.
  • Nazca Booby: Encounter this masked booby on Genovesa and Española, respectively. Marvel at their distinctive features and behaviors.
  • Red-Footed Booby: Distinguished by its vibrant red feet, this seabird is recognized for its striking appearance and adept aerial dives. These sociable birds create captivating colonies against the backdrop of the Galapagos seas.
  • Galapagos Hawk: Observe the Galapagos’ apex predator soaring over the islands, showcasing its adaptability and role as the archipelago's apex predator.
  • Frigatebirds: Witness large colonies of magnificent Frigatebirds on North Seymour and Genovesa, displaying their aerial prowess. These seabirds with iconic inflated throat pouches contribute to the archipelago's unique avian spectacle.
  • Galapagos Flamingo: Spot this elegant bird in Floreana and Isabela, showcasing their unique pink hues in the archipelago's lagoons. These graceful birds add to the Galapagos' diverse avian population.
  • Galapagos Finches: Encounter diverse Galapagos Finches on various islands, witnessing their distinct beak adaptations. These iconic birds played a pivotal role in Darwin's theory of evolution.
  • Giant Tortoise: Once inhabitants of most of the Galapagos Islands, this endemic species are now found only in a few places on the archipelago, such as Santa Cruz, San Cristobal, Isabela, and Floreana. These gentle giants display diverse shell shapes based on their island of origin.
  • Marine Iguana: Galapagos is the only place in the world that harbors the unique Marine Iguana, a land iguana that adapted to life in the ocean. Basking on the archipelago’s black lava rocks, these iguanas dive into the sea to feed on algae, displaying a fascinating blend of terrestrial and marine behaviors.
  • Land Iguana: North Seymour and Isabela host the distinctive Land Iguana, with North Seymour renowned for its population of yellow land iguanas. Isabela showcases both pink and yellow variants, illustrating the species' adaptability to different environments.
  • Green Sea Turtle: Swim alongside the graceful Green Sea Turtles in the waters around Española and Isabela. However, these ancient mariners can be found throughout the Galapagos waters and add to the islands' marine wonder.
  • Sea Lion: Each Galapagos Island offers vibrant encounters with this charismatic species. San Cristóbal's beaches are bustling with playful sea lions, providing fantastic opportunities for observation.
  • Galapagos Penguin: Isabela, Fernandina, and Bartolomé are havens for this unique animal, the only penguin species near the equator. Thriving in nutrient-rich waters, Isabela and Fernandina offer prime locations to observe these agile birds.
Getting around and to the Galapagos Islands - Flights & Transportation

Flights to the Galapagos Islands fly exclusively from mainland Ecuador, specifically from Guayaquil on the coast and from Quito in the Andean highlands.

You will either land at the Baltra Island Seymour airport (GPS) next to Santa Cruz Island or at San Cristobal Island airport (SCY) just outside of the town of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno in the southeast Galapagos Islands.

Once you're here, you will be met at the airport and taken by ferry, bus, or taxi to the towns of Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz or Puerto Baquerizo Moreno on San Cristobal Island, where you will board your yachts to begin your cruise. Some cruises arrive to one island and leave from the other.

Taxis and water taxis are available in the towns of Puerto Ayora (Santa Cruz Island), Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, and Puerto Villamil on Isabela Island. 

Most Galapagos tour packages booked with Adventure Life are all inclusive and we take care of all transportation details for you, including the flight from Ecuador to the Galapagos. .
Galapagos Tours & Galapagos Cruises, Island-by-Island

All tours and cruises to Galapagos start and/or finish at Santa Cruz Island (at neighboring Baltra Island Airport, GPS ) or San Cristobal Island airport. Cruise itineraries are frequently categorized as central, north, south, east and west or by combining multiple regions.

Central Islands: Santa Cruz BaltraSantiagoChinese HatRabidaBartolomeSanta Fe,  South PlazasNorth SeymourMosquera, and Daphne Islands

Eastern Islands: San Cristobal 

Southern Islands: Española, and Floreana.

Western Islands: Isabela and Fernandina.

Northern Islands: Genovesa, and the northernmost Wolf & Darwin Islands which are only visited during dedicated diving trips
Get to Know the Human-Inhabited Galapagos Islands

Among the many islands and islets that you can explore, there are just four islands that are inhabited:
  • Santa Cruz Island is the centrally located "main island" in the Galapagos and serves as the biggest port for cruises and base for land-tours. The town of Puerto Ayora has a growing population of 18,000 people and a number of restaurants, shops, bars, and hotels. It is accessed by Baltra Island Airport.
  • Isabela Island is the westernmost, biggest, and youngest of the inhabited Galapagos Islands. There are six active volcanoes here that can be explored and some of the best snorkeling opportunities as well. The quiet town of Puerto Villamil has managed to maintain its fishing village atmosphere despite the growth in tourism to the Islands.
  • Floreana, in the southern part of the archipelago, is one of the most historic islands in the Galapagos, home to centuries-old legends and tales of betrayal and romance, pirates, whalers, and artifacts that remind us how real this period was in the Galapagos Islands.
  • San Cristobal in the far east of the Galapagos Islands is the administrative capital of this Ecuadorian province from the town of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, and is home to some of the best surfing and land-based exploration sites, like the giant El Junco freshwater lagoon, geological formations, Cerro Brujo & Lobos Island and more.
Trips to Galapagos + Ecuador Mainland + Peru, South America

If you're traveling to the Galapagos Islands, then you're passing close to some of the world's natural and cultural wonders. That's why it's a great idea to take advantage of your trip to the Galapagos Islands and combine it with some time exploring mainland South America! There are a few great options to consider:
  • Galapagos & the Amazon: The Ecuadorian Amazon has the most easily accessible area of the Amazon Rainforests, and one of the most diverse. It's usually experienced from an eco-lodge. If you love the idea of another cruise, then visit Peru's Amazon to take a river cruise from the town of Iquitos.
  • Galapagos & Machu Picchu: Check off another wonder of the world by visiting Machu Picchu to see this impressive architectural landmark of the Inca empire. From here you can look out over the Sacred Valley and stop in the colonial city of Cuzco en route.
  • Galapagos & the Andes: Whether you're taking in history and culture in the the colonial Ecuadorian capital city of Quito, exploring the active glaciated Cotopaxi Volcano, or enjoying national parks and colonial streets in the southern Andean city of Cuenca, these towering peaks and volcanoes seem to put the whole world in perspective. 
The Best Way to Experience the Galapagos Islands

Perhaps one of the most fascinating and engaging destinations on the planet, the Galapagos Islands offer an exciting opportunity to witness pristine nature in its purest expressions. Make your trip a valuable and memorable experience by considering this when planning:
  • Prioritize conservation! Travel to the Galapagos Islands is heavily monitored and fairly restricted by Ecuador's Ministry of Tourism in collaboration with the Ministry of the Environment and the Galapagos National Park. Those who have the privilege to visit this fragile archipelago also have to play their part and practice responsible tourism by booking with operators committed to "green" travel practices (like the ones that we feature). It's also up to you to follow the Leave No Trace guidelines and make sure to respect all of the rules that your guides tell you (like not feeding the animals and staying on the trails). 
  • Plan your trip around your interests. From kayaking and scuba diving to hiking and photography, activities offered on most itineraries are varied and entertaining. Most cruises try to fit in at least two daily excursions and activities to maximize your experience. If you're an avid kayaker or photographer, for example, make sure that your itinerary allows for plenty of time for these options.
  • Experience the marine life by snorkeling! Even if you've never been snorkeling or don't consider yourself a particularly strong swimmer, it is worth it to take the plunge in Galapagos and explore the fantastic rainbow of coral and marine life hidden underwater.
  • Plan longer trips. While you might find a 4- or 5-day cruise for a much more economical price, we recommend staying at least 8 days. This will not only allow you to see more of the Galapagos Islands and experience more activities, but longer stays also help the local economy and community.

Top Activities & Things to Do in Galapagos

Wildlife Viewing - The Galapagos Islands are perhaps the world's premier wildlife viewing destination because of the fearlessness of wildlife, whom have never had significant predators and only know humans as peaceful camera carrying creatures. Every Galapagos itinerary is packed with opportunities to see the unique creatures that inspired Charles Darwin's theories on evolution. 

Snorkeling - The Galapagos are absolutely amazing for snorkeling. It's the only place on Earth where you can snorkel with Galapagos penguins, marine iguanas, and numerous endemic species such as Galapagos Sharks. Most Galapagos cruises have several, even daily, snorkeling opportunities. 

Sea Kayaking - A limited number of yachts carry sea kayaks on board, so make sure that your yacht has them before reserving. The kayaking opportunities on most cruises are quite limited, so if sea kayaking is important to you, consider a multi-sport tour.

Hiking in Galapagos - Most cruises do one or two hikes per day at National Park visitor spots, so your trip will likely be filled with hiking. Want more? Take our specialized Galapagos hiking tour for the best hiking on the islands, including the walk to the rim of the massive Sierra Negra volcanic caldera. 

SCUBA Diving - The Galapagos are one of the world's premier diving destinations and one can choose between Liveaboard dive cruises or taking diving day trips based out of one of the towns in Galapagos such as Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz Island.

Photography - Nowhere on earth is there such fearless wildlife that pose in front of breathtaking scenery. You'll get excellent shots with a modern mobile phone camera. If you have a DSLR, you'll only need a telephoto lens occasionally. Do consider a polarized lens for the Equatorial sun. The "must-have" landscape shot is on Bartolome Island, while wildlife photography opportunities are literally everywhere. 

Main Highlights of the Top Galapagos Islands

Santa Cruz Island  

  • Visit the Charles Darwin Research Station for a deeper understanding of Galapagos conservation efforts.

  • Explore the lush highlands, home to the famous giant tortoises in their natural habitat.

  • Discover the picturesque Tortuga Bay, a pristine white-sand beach with excellent snorkeling opportunities.

Isabela Island  

  • Hike to the rim of the Sierra Negra Volcano, boasting one of the largest volcanic calderas in the world.

  • Visit the Wall of Tears, a historical site built by prisoners during this inhabited island's former penal colony.

  • Snorkel in the crystal-clear waters of Los Tuneles, a unique underwater landscape formed by lava tubes.

Fernandina Island  

  • Witness the exceptional marine and birdlife, including the flightless cormorant and marine iguanas.

  • Explore Punta Espinosa, a hotspot for wildlife sightings, with unique lava formations.

  • Experience pristine nature with minimal human impact on the island's untouched landscapes.

San Cristobal Island  

  • Visit the Interpretation Center to learn about the natural history and conservation efforts in the Galapagos.

  • Explore Cerro Brujo, a breathtaking beach with opportunities to spot sea lions and seabirds.

  • Snorkel at Kicker Rock, a distinctive geological formation rich in marine life.

Baltra Island  

  • Begin or conclude your Galapagos journey at Baltra, the main airport gateway.

  • Explore the remnants of a World War II military base, highlighting the island's historical significance.

  • Witness unique flora and fauna adapting to the arid environment.

North Seymour Island  

  • Encounter the famous blue-footed boobies engaged in their intricate courtship dances.

  • Observe frigatebirds displaying their inflated red throat pouches during the breeding season.

  • Enjoy a picturesque landscape with endemic plants and rocky terrain.

South Plaza Island  

  • Marvel at the vibrant flora, including the distinctive red Sesuvium plants and Opuntia cacti.

  • Spot land iguanas, a unique species distinguished by their yellowish coloration.

  • Witness the incredible acrobatics of sea lions along the rocky shores.

Genovesa Island  

  • Explore Darwin Bay, a pristine white-sand beach surrounded by cliffs and rich birdlife.

  • Encounter the iconic red-footed and Nazca boobies, as well as other seabird species.

  • Hike to Prince Philip's Steps for panoramic views and the chance to spot short-eared owls.

Floreana Island  

  • Visit Post Office Bay, where an 18th-century tradition of leaving and picking up mail continues.

  • Snorkel at Devil's Crown, a submerged volcanic crater teeming with marine life.

  • Explore the highlands to see the unique vegetation and historical sites.

Española Island  

  • Witness the Waved Albatross during their mating rituals on Española's rocky cliffs.

  • Explore Gardner Bay's pristine beach, home to sea lions and marine iguanas.

  • Snorkel at Suarez Point to encounter diverse marine species, including colorful fish.

Galapagos Travel FAQs

Do I need a visa to travel to the Galapagos Islands?
The Galapagos are governed by Ecuador, and 90-day tourist visas can be obtained at the airport in Quito or Guayaquil on route to the Galapagos from the following countries: United States, United Kingdom, Switzerland, South Africa, New Zealand, Netherlands, Ireland, Germany, Belgium, Canada, Australia. If your country is not on this list, you should check with your country's embassy for more detailed travel requirements.

Is tipping customary in the Galapagos Islands?
Tipping is always appreciated and very common in the Galapagos Islands. Adventure Life never requires travelers to tip, but it is a courteous gesture to show appreciation for the excellent service that we promise you will experience.

The rule of thumb in the Galapagos is tipping $7-$10/ person/ day for the guide and $10-15/ person/ day for the crew. For cruises, there is typically a gratuity envelope that you can leave in the cabin on the last day. If you eat at a local restaurant there will likely be a 10% service charge included in the bill, in which case tipping isn’t necessary.

Do I need power adapters?
Most plugs in hotels and boat cabins are two flat prong that run on 110-Volt electricity like those in the United States and Canada.

What is the Internet access like in the Galapagos Islands?
While there are cyber cafes in the port cities like Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz and Puerto Baquerizo Moreno on San Cristobal, you shouldn’t plan on being connected for most of your trip. Certain boats and hotels do feature business centers or WiFi hotspots, but even the most luxurious cruises sometimes do not offer internet access on board. If this is a concern, we can help you figure out which options allow the best internet access.

Can I use my cell phone while in the Galapagos Islands?
You will need a GSM phone that is either unlocked or has a roaming option on your plan. In the port cities, if you have a local SIM card for your phone you will be able to make calls. However once you are at sea on a cruise or if you are at some of the more isolated visitor sites, it is unlikely that you will have any signal at all. It’s not uncommon to go several days or up to a week out of range, so plan to be disconnected.

What are the toilets like in the Galapagos Islands?
The toilets on cruises and hotels are all standard flushing units. At certain visitor sites, it’s possible that there are pit toilets or no toilets at all on the visitor sites where only trails have been built. In any situation, you should make sure to have hand sanitizer and toilet paper on hand just in case.

What will it cost for a… ?
Bottle of water or juice: $2.00
Inexpensive meal: $6.00
Meal at a decent restaurant: $30

*The Galapagos Islands are over 600 miles from mainland Ecuador, so the prices of everything that is not grown or caught around the Galapagos Islands themselves must be adjusted for transportation costs and local taxes.

Can I drink the water in the Galapagos Islands?
You should not drink the tap water in the Galapagos Islands, however we make sure that there is always safe bottled water available for you. Most water on yachts and ships is purified but sits in large tanks, so it’s not usually a good idea to drink it from the tap. It’s generally okay to brush your teeth with the water from the ships, but using bottled water is always the safest option.

You can use the tap water to shower, wash your hands, and wash dishes with a strong antibacterial soap as long as you let them dry completely before using.

Are credit cards accepted in the Galapagos Islands? Are there ATMs?
The only places where you’ll find an ATM or stores and restaurants that accept credit cards are Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz Island and Puerto Baquerizo Moreno on San Cristobal Island. It’s a good idea to withdraw money while in mainland Ecuador before departing for the Galapagos just in case the ATMs aren’t working or if you don’t have an opportunity in the Islands to withdraw money based on your itinerary.
Do I need to purchase travel insurance before heading to the Galapagos Islands?
You definitely should! We highly recommend buying travel insurance before heading out on your vacation, and we work with TravelGuard Insurance company to provide you with the best deals. They offer fair prices for comprehensive insurance packages. Our Once You’re Booked page has more info.
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