The Galapagos Islands are an archipelago of volcanic islands that are a part of Ecuador. The islands are rich in biodiversity and known for their extensive collection of flora and fauna. Some of the more popular activities in the Galapagos Islands include exploring volcanoes, looking out for unique species of birds, or partaking in water sports such as surfing and snorkeling.
1.Asilo de la Paz
© Courtesy of NoraDoa - Fotolia.com
Asilo de la Paz is a 450 meter high hill that is found on Floreana Island, one of the first islands to be colonized by Ecuadorians. The hill attracts visitors from all over the world as it houses fun sites such as a historic pirate cave and a freshwater spring to bathe in.
The National Park Service manages the surrounding woodlands, and visitors can hike to the corral and see various species of tortoises that visit the Galapagos Islands. As visitors hike up the hill, they’ll come across flora native to the land such as plum orchards, tamarind, and various citrus fruits.
2.Centro de Crianza Arnaldo Tupiza
© Courtesy of koleg68 - Fotolia.com
The Centro de Crianza Arnaldo Tupiza is a tortoise conservatory dedicated to breeding these amazing animals and conserving their natural environment. Visitors will see tortoises large and small and get up close and personal with them. The center employs informative staff members who are more than happy to take visitors on a tour of the facilities, sharing fun facts on how tortoises are bred and released back into their natural environment.
There is also a boardwalk that connects the conservatory to the town (a 45 minute walk); visitors will be able to see iguanas, flamingos, and many other types of birds during the walk. The conservatory can be explored at no cost, though donations are welcome to help the cause.
3.Centro de Interpretacion
© Courtesy of gevans - Fotolia.com
An attraction that combines fun and education, the Interpretation Center of San Cristobal aims to introduce visitors to the rich history of the islands. The center was put together by the Spanish Agency for International Cooperation for Development, the Galapagos National Park management, and the Charles Darwin Foundation.
Visitors exploring the center will learn many fascinating pieces of information about the island’s history. For example, the Natural History Room goes into an in-depth exhibit of the volcanic origin of the islands. There are other rooms dedicated to the island’s colonization, flora and fauna species, and conservation of the land.
Avenida Alsacio Northia, Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, Ecuador
© Courtesy of Fotos 593 - Fotolia.com
Nature lovers will enjoy spending a day exploring Cerro Dragon, or Dragon Hill, on Santa Cruz Island. The stunning location gets its name from a time when it was the only place in Santa Cruz where you could find land iguanas or “dragons.”
Other animals that visitors are sure to come across in the rocky beach include green turtles, rays, Galapagos mockingbirds, and a number of other migratory shorebirds. Dragon Hill is also known for Galapagos cotton and a variety of candelabra cactus. The area is perfect for visitors looking to enjoy a bit of beachcombing, sunbathing, hiking, or snorkeling.
© Ecuagringo Fishing
Ecuagringo is a commercial fishing company that really knows what they’re doing, as they’ve been standing by and supporting local fisherman in the Galapagos Islands for over twenty years.
Consisting of staff that love the outdoors and the rush of the sport and can navigate the waters in their sleep, Ecuagringo offers island fishing tours in San Cristobal and Santa Cruz; visitors can choose from Marlin and big game fishing to inshore fishing and fly fishing. The team will put together a memorable fishing trip that will also provide opportunities to take some stunning wildlife pictures.
100 Aquarium Whrf, Charleston, SC 29401, Phone: 59-39-89-26-83-00
© Courtesy of jkraft5 - Fotolia.com
What better way to explore the Galapagos Islands than as a local? Galapagos Alternative offers visitors from all over the world an opportunity to explore a unique perspective of the islands. There are itineraries created based on interests, time, and locations, and visitors can also create a completely personalized itinerary based on their needs.
You will get the chance to experience the rich culture of the land while staying at local hotels and eating at some of the best local restaurants. Some of the most popular attractions on the tour are Santa Fe Island, the Sierra Negra Volcano tour, the Lava Tunnels tour, and Punta Carola Beach.
100 Aquarium Whrf, Charleston, SC 29401, Phone: +59-39-94-65-50-18
7.Galapagos Natural Life
© Courtesy of bleung - Fotolia.com
Galapagos Natural Life is a direct tour operator that focuses on finding the lowest priced last minute deals on cruises that tour all over the islands. The company has been around for over seven years and is sometimes able to offer discounts of up to 50%. Other promotions offered by Galapagos Natural Life include a free night’s stay at the company’s hostel in Quito or a hotel/ airport transfer at no cost. The company even has a few land-based tours that island hop and stop at all the major attractions on the way.
Joaquin Pinto E8-64 y 6 de Diciembre, Phone: +5-93-22-52-05-75
8.Galapagos Tip Top Dive & Training
© Courtesy of Andrea Izzotti - Fotolia.com
Scuba diving in the Galapagos Islands will be one of the most memorable experiences a visitor will have. The Galapagos Tip Top Dive and Training Center was the first PADI 5 Star Tec Rec Instructor Development Center in the islands. First class service combined with affordable rates make it one of the best options. After taking one of the many courses, visitors can choose from various dive sites in the Galapagos Islands, including Islote Mosquera, North Seymour, South Plaza, Gordon Rocks, Punta Estrada, Guy Fawkes, and Santa Fe.
Calle Los Colonos S/N & Tomas de Berlanga, Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz, Galapagos, Phone: +5-93-99-52-90-68
© Courtesy of puntel - Fotolia.com
With the idea that no matter how high you climb or how fast you go, you’ll still have to dive underwater to see 70% of the planet, Galapagos Underwater has diving courses and tours that lets visitors see a side of the islands that can’t be seen from land. With experienced and trained guides that concentrate on safety while having a good time, visitors will be able to snorkel or dive and see everything from hammerheads and Galapagos sharks to sea lions and turtles. The top quality diving tours ensure that visitors get to really explore one of the world’s most diverse hotspots.
Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, San Cristóbal, Galapagos, Ecuador, Phone: 59-32-52-18-58
Ecoventura is a family-owned and run expedition cruise company that shares its love for the Galapagos Islands with visitors, providing their guests with a true experience of this unique world. They work with small groups, offering an unforgettable and safe voyage, ensuring a minimal impact on the fragile environment. Their expeditions are conducted on one of their two first-class 20-passenger yachts, a 16-passenger upscale dive live-aboard, and the premium class luxury vessel MV Origin. Their adventures include diverse activities such as hiking through volcanic formations, observing nesting sea birds, watching sea lions on a secluded beach, snorkeling with penguins, swimming with sharks, kayaking in small romantic coves, or enjoying a zodiac ride to see the shoreline and look for wildlife. Ecoventura is a world leader in sustainable tourism and the first company to be awarded the Smart Voyager certification.
Worldwide Sales & Reservation office: Galapagos Network, 5805 Blue Lagoon Drive, Suite 160, Miami FL 33126, Phone: 305-262-6264; Toll-free: +1 800-633-7972
11.Isabela Island Wetlands Complex
© Courtesy of jhvephoto - Fotolia.com
The Isabela Island Wetlands Complex is a myriad of trails that visitors can go through to see stunning flora and fauna. Though it is accessible by car, visitors might prefer walking or biking through the marshlands, as it will provide more opportunities to admire all the beauty of the land. The trails lead to a main sightseeing point, mangroves, a wood trail, a lava tube, and a coral beach. Not only will visitors get to see giant tortoises and flamingos, but they will also get the opportunity to go on a boat ride, snorkeling, or trekking.
Galapagos National Park, Puerto Villamil, Ecuador
© Courtesy of Kseniya Ragozina - Fotolia.com
León Dormido, more commonly known as Kicker Rock, is a popular dive and snorkeling site that is actually the remains of a lava cone split in two. The channel that the eroded formation has created is now home to animals such as white-tip reef sharks, Galapagos sharks, and hammerhead sharks. Above the ocean, Kicker Rock towers at over 500 feet high and attracts many species of birds. A visit to Kicker Rock is usually accompanied with a stop to the nearby Manglesito Beach where visitors can have lunch, swim with friendly sea lions, sunbathe on the white sand beach, or take a walk to enjoy the scenery.
13.Lagoon El Junco
© Courtesy of sunsinger - Fotolia.com
The El Junco Lagoon is actually a crater lake and not a lagoon like the name suggests, but that doesn’t change the fact that it is one of the most gorgeous places in San Cristobal Island. The crater itself was formed by the collapsed caldera of a volcano that has been extinct since the last-known ice age. Being on the highlands, it slowly fills with rainfall, making it one of the only freshwater sources on the island. Other than a panoramic view, visitors will also see flora and fauna that is popular in the area such as the endangered Galapagos miconia and the endemic San Cristóbal mockingbird.
© Courtesy of piccaya - Fotolia.com
The Santa Cruz Lava Tunnels were formed years ago when the outer parts of lava created a thick rock wall for the lava to continue flowing within. Over the years, the flow subsided, and what remained are some magnificent tunnels made of solidified lava. The underground channels are large enough for visitors to walk through and explore, and they vary in length and don’t always interconnect. There are many tours available for visitors who really want to learn about the tunnels’ history. It is probable that visitors exploring the lava tunnels will come across barn owls and other types of birds.
15.LAVAWAVE Surf Galapagos
© Courtesy of Pawel - Fotolia.com
LAVAWAVE Surf Galapagos is a travel agency with land and water tours mostly focused on surfing the waves of the islands. Whether you are a beginner surfer or a seasoned pro, you will be able to customize your tour to your needs as well as your skill levels. The Wave Tour is one of the more popular options. It is a seven-day tour that includes multiple surfing sessions based on where the best waves are at that time, a visit to a Galapagos tortoise breeding center, snorkeling at Kicker Rock, and relaxing on Puerto Chino beach. The tour includes accommodation, a bilingual guide, and many other perks.
Teodoro Wolf and Charles Darwin, San Cristobal Island, Galapagos - Ecuador, Phone: +5-93-52-52-18-15
© Courtesy of ahfotos - Fotolia.com
Los Gemelos, also known as “The Twins,” are twin volcanic craters that can be found at Santa Cruz Island. Testimonies to the island’s volcanic history, the craters were formed by the collapse of an underground magma chamber. The impressive view is only half the fun, as getting to the craters offers an adventurous experience all on its own. Walking through the forest that engulfs Los Gemelos gives visitors the opportunity to take some stunning photos and to discover the many flora and fauna indigenous to the land. Visiting Los Gemelos is a special treat for ornithologists, as there are numerous species of birds that can be seen in the highlands.
© Courtesy of chris3d - Fotolia.com
Maki is the Quechua word for any work or art that was made by hand, and the Maki-Art Gallery showcases pieces that have been lovingly created in that fashion. The gallery finds handcrafted works from all over the country and allows visitors to appreciate the detail and passion the artists put into each piece. Pieces include tapestries, macramé jewelry, metal and wood sculptures, decorative art tiles, recycled glass art, masks, gourd art, pottery, and embroideries. Each of the pieces reflects the design and colors of the land itself. Celebrate the art, life, and tradition of the Galapagos Islands with a beautiful piece from Maki-Art Gallery.
Av. Charles Darwin and Tomas de Berlanga, Barrio Central, Puerto Ayora 200350, Ecuador, Phone: +5-93-52-52-42-79
© Courtesy of Elliott - Fotolia.com
A giant Galapagos tortoise ranch, Ranchos Primicias lets visitors walk the land where tortoises roam free. The Galapagos tortoise is one of the most iconic animals of the Galapagos Islands, and no trip there is complete without seeing one. This particular species of tortoise can live as long as 150 years and grow to weigh over 400 pounds. Visitors can walk around the ranch, take pictures with the docile creatures, and explore flora and fauna while there. There’s a small cafe where visitors can refresh and have a snack as well as a souvenir shop to take a little bit of Ranchos Primicias back home with them.
El Chato Area, 200350, Ecuador
19.Santa Cruz Fish Market
© Courtesy of estivillml - Fotolia.com
One of the best places to see the crowd and commotion of the land, the Santa Cruz Fish Market is filled with both locals and foreigners. Fishermen unload their catch of the day and set up their makeshift stalls while people search for the freshest fish and seafood for their meals. It’s a great place for visitors to buy ingredients and try their hand at the local cuisine; it’s also a good place to people watch and see how the locals go about their day. Visitors can bird watch, see some sea lions, or take great photos off the vantage point at the nearby pier. At night, the entire market transforms to an outdoor restaurant, and it is a great place to try an authentic meal.
20.Santa Fe Galapagos Tours
© Courtesy of BlueOrange Studio - Fotolia.com
Santa Fe Galapagos Tours is a family-owned and managed company that has been providing tours of the Galapagos Islands for over twenty five years. Visitors go to them knowing that they will get a unique and unforgettable experience that is sure to be the highlight of their trip to the islands. Discover the enchanted islands with a day tour or a personalized package that could last for days. Some of the popular locations on the tours include the extinct volcano at Bartholomew Islands, swimming and snorkeling in North Seymour Island, and a scuba diving tour to Gordon Rocks.
Charles Binford Ave. & Juan Montalvo Street, Puerto Ayora - Galápagos - Ecuador, Phone: +59-30-52-52-64-19
© Courtesy of NoraDoa - Fotolia.com
Sharksky Eco-Adventures has been promoting ethical ecotourism in the Galapagos Islands since 2008. The company has deep roots on the island, and their community based tourism approach includes hiring passionate tour operators who know about the land, supporting community efforts, and visiting locally owned hotels and restaurants. Visitors can choose from island-hopping adventures, highlight tours, educational and student tours, adventure tours, dive tours, and cruises. Visitors can create a combination of places and things to do based on their interests and their length of stay, with tours going for as long as eight to twelve days.
Av. Española y Charles Darwin, Pto. Baquerizo Moreno – San Cristóbal, Galápagos Islands – Ecuador, Phone: +0-05-93-52-52-11-88
22.Royal Palm Hotel Galapagos
© Royal Palm Hotel Galapagos
Located on a 480-acre private estate in Ecuador’s Santa Cruz’s Miconia highland forests, Royal Palm is a boutique hotel composed of 21 charming casitas and villas that perfectly blend with the lush natural landscape of Seymour on Galapagos Island. All rooms are air-conditioned and have all modern amenities such as wife, flat-screen TVs, and DVD players. Some rooms have fireplaces and/or canopy beds. The guests enjoy a free breakfast at the elegant bar, which has a romantic fireplace and a piano. There is also a gym, a tennis court, a swimming pool, and an excellent in-house restaurant. There are pleasant hiking trails nearby from which visitors can spot some of Galapagos’ rare animals. The hotel organizes guided tours of island wildlife and estate’s lava tunnels.
Baltra Airport Rd, Seymour 200350, Ecuador, Phone: +593 5-252-4770
23.Galapagos Foodie Tour
© Courtesy of Fotos 593 - Fotolia.com
There’s no better way to really get to know a land than to try the many culinary concoctions that it is famed for. The Galapagos Islands have many simple and fresh dishes that really bring together the unique flavors of the land. Many of the dishes are known to have meat and potatoes but delicious coastal ingredients include seafood, fish, and yucca.
The Galapagos Foodie Tour Company has different tours based on tastes; some of the most popular are Chocolapagos, which takes visitors on a workshop with a local chocolatier, and the Game Fishing tour where visitors can fish for their own meal.
24.Wall of Tears
© Courtesy of nok3709001 - Fotolia.com
The Wall of Tears, or El Muro de las Lágrimas as it is known locally, is a site on Isabela Island that has a sad history. Proving that one man's paradise is another man's prison, 300 prisoners and thirty policemen were transported to Isabela Island in 1946 to create a penal colony far from the mainland. The prisoners worked under the hot sun to cut out large volcanic rocks and build the prison. It was never completed, and what remains today is a grim wall structure that is over 100 meters long and eight meters high. The story behind it really takes visitors on a journey of the land's past. Visitors can climb to the top of the wall and take some stunning photographs of the surrounding area from a more aerial view.
© Galeria Aymara
The best part about Galeria Aymara is that you don’t have to be at the Galapagos Islands to walk away with some unique treasures. Their online shop has a detailed catalog of items ranging from jewelry to baskets to art. But visitors who are in the area are in for a real treat, as they get to explore the showroom filled with textiles, masks, and so much more. Everything listed with Galeria Aymara is of extremely high quality, and some of the most popular pieces include hand woven baskets, Mola tapestries, and handmade jewelry by Lugi.
25 Best Things to Do in the Galapagos
- Asilo de la Paz, Photo: Courtesy of NoraDoa - Fotolia.com
- Centro de Crianza Arnaldo Tupiza, Photo: Courtesy of koleg68 - Fotolia.com
- Centro de Interpretacion, Photo: Courtesy of gevans - Fotolia.com
- Dragon Hill, Photo: Courtesy of Fotos 593 - Fotolia.com
- Ecuagringo Fishing, Photo: Ecuagringo Fishing
- Galapagos Alternative, Photo: Courtesy of jkraft5 - Fotolia.com
- Galapagos Natural Life, Photo: Courtesy of bleung - Fotolia.com
- Galapagos Tip Top Dive & Training, Photo: Courtesy of Andrea Izzotti - Fotolia.com
- Galapagos Underwater, Photo: Courtesy of puntel - Fotolia.com
- Ecoventura, Photo: Ecoventura
- Isabela Island Wetlands Complex, Photo: Courtesy of jhvephoto - Fotolia.com
- Kicker Rock, Photo: Courtesy of Kseniya Ragozina - Fotolia.com
- Lagoon El Junco, Photo: Courtesy of sunsinger - Fotolia.com
- Lava Tunnels, Photo: Courtesy of piccaya - Fotolia.com
- LAVAWAVE Surf Galapagos, Photo: Courtesy of Pawel - Fotolia.com
- Los Gemelos, Photo: Courtesy of ahfotos - Fotolia.com
- Maki-Art Gallery, Photo: Courtesy of chris3d - Fotolia.com
- Rancho Primicias, Photo: Courtesy of Elliott - Fotolia.com
- Santa Cruz Fish Market, Photo: Courtesy of estivillml - Fotolia.com
- Santa Fe Galapagos Tours, Photo: Courtesy of BlueOrange Studio - Fotolia.com
- Sharksky Eco-Adventures, Photo: Courtesy of NoraDoa - Fotolia.com
- Royal Palm Hotel Galapagos, Photo: Royal Palm Hotel Galapagos
- Galapagos Foodie Tour, Photo: Courtesy of Fotos 593 - Fotolia.com
- Wall of Tears, Photo: Courtesy of nok3709001 - Fotolia.com
- Galeria Aymara, Photo: Galeria Aymara
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of donyanedomam - Fotolia.com
Volcan Trillizos was founded in 2011 when someone almost accidentally fell down the deep hole when clearing the land. The amazing adventure allows visitors to descend into the heart of an extinct volcano through a steep, narrow ladder. The hole is actually 180 meters deep, and visitors who are willing to climb down (and up) the ladder will be greeted with a cave that has two tunnels. Legend has it that one tunnel leads to the sea while the other goes to Vulcán Sierra Negra, but visitors aren’t allowed to go past the cave to discover it on their own. Visitors will get an amazing view if they look up the hole to the land in which they climbed down from.