Start planning your island vacation in the Galapagos Islands
Island-hopping around the Galapagos is almost unavoidable. This cluster of 20-or-so islands off Ecuador’s Pacific coast is a fascinating, enthralling vacation destination. These breathtaking landscapes are home to curious sea lions and seahorses, with cool temperatures perfect for diving. Marvel at unearthly lava formations on land, and snorkel with white-tipped sharks in the seas. This entire destination is a UNESCO-protected World Heritage Site.
What makes the Galapagos Islands unique?
The sheer breadth of experiences across the Galapagos Islands is astounding. You can try snorkeling alongside sea turtles and friendly sea lions, and meet unique, endemic species including penguins and giant tortoises. It’s no surprise that Charles Darwin's Theory of Evolution was inspired by a visit to these islands. There are albatross, marine iguanas, and hundreds of pretty and unusual birds.
The best islands to visit in the Galapagos
From a commanding view of the islands on Bartolomé to the white beaches on Santa Cruz, each island on the archipelago is unique. Wherever you go, the albatrosses overhead and majestic sea turtles will serve as a reminder of just how special the islands in the Galapagos are.
Sunbathe on Santa Cruz Island
There are few beaches in South America with white sands and wonderful wildlife like the ones on this island. Tortuga Bay in particular offers an idyllic spot on the Pacific, with a sea barrier raised to protect sunbathers from dangerous currents. If you love sharks, this is one of the best places to see them.
Snorkel on Isabela Island
There are white-tipped sharks, eagle rays and sea turtles to spot for those swimming through the beautiful clear waters at Los Túneles on the island of Isabela. The island's Black Mountains are another highlight, best explored on foot as part of a guided Galapagos Islands tour.
Hop onto old Española Island
At about four million years old, this island is one of the most interesting in the Galapagos, not least because it’s home to the waved albatross. which come from all over the world to breed here. This southern island is dry for most of the year, making it easy for visitors to explore its ancient landscape.
Watch flamingos fly on Floreana Island
The sixth-largest of the Galapagos Islands is popular for its pink flamingos. An underwater volcanic cone offers the perfect snorkeling site, here, and both sea turtles and sea lions can be found along the beaches of this picturesque island.
Rise to the top on Bartolomé Island
A popular stop for boat tours, this is among the youngest and most beautiful of the Galapagos Islands. Its extinct volcanic formations come in a myriad colors, one of which offers superb panoramic views of the sister islands and their waddling penguins.
Tips for planning an island-hopping trip in the Galapagos
Summer, from June to July, is the busiest of the year on the Galapagos Islands, with marine life active in the choppy waters. The hot season between December and May has calmer waters, but days can be sweltering. Sporadic rainfall normally ends with clear skies at this time of year. Getting to the Galapagos Islands requires a flight to Quito or directly to Baltra. From there, a combination of bus and ferry rides will bring you to the UNESCO paradise that is the Galapagos.