Galápagos Islands Things to Do Tips by windsorgirl
Galápagos Islands Things to Do: 363 reviews and 1,041 photos
underwater sea lion
I have never seen so many different creatures while snorkelling as I did in the Galapagos Islands.
Apart from all the usual colourful and tropical fish, we also saw sea turtles, manta rays, and reef sharks. We also had a close encounter with what appeared to be mini torpedos, but were actually the Galapagos penguins. My most frightening experience was swimming within 2m of a 2m long hammerhead shark and my most fun experiences were those with the playful and curious sea lion pups. This is definitely a must see activity!
The only way to get to the islands is by joining an organized Boat Tour. Each boat must have a qualified Naturalist Guide. Make sure yours speaks english well. He or she will offer a wealth of interesting information about the islands and its wildlife and ensure that you and your fellow travellers adhere to the island regulations, such as keeping to the footpaths and not touching the animals. Humans are only allowed on the islands between the hours of 6am and 6pm, so our guide made it his goal to be the first on land by 6am each morning, before any other tourists arrived. I really appreciated that since we could then spend the hottest hours of the day resting while travelling to our next destination. I cruised on the Pelicanos. It was small, with only 14 passengers.
Isla Espanola was, in my opinion, the most beautiful island, with beautiful beaches lined with sunbasking sea lions and dramatic coastal cliffs. It is the southernmost island in the archipelago and not all tours go here, but it is worth the trip, especially since it is the home of the Waved Albatross. Espanola's steep cliffs make the perfect runway for the ungainly albatross. You will also encounter many blue boobies nesting here.
Also known as James Island or San Salvador Island, Isla Santiago has a very interesting landscape. It reminds me of what a golf course might look like on the moon. You will see algae covered black lava craters that are filled with crystal clear sea water during low tide as well as black sand beaches. The highlight of your visit will be Darwin's Toilet, a collapsed lava tube that is constantly filled and emptied (with a flush like force) with water from the sea. This island is also the home of the Galapagos fur seal.
Tortuga Bay, Isla Santa Cruz
Tortuga Bay has a picturesque white sand beach with crystal clear water and very few tourists. I suggest you spend the day there, so that you can experience both high and low tides. During low tide, you will be able to see many small fish close up that get trapped in small tide pools as the water recedes. It is like your own bath size aquarium. There are also mangrove trees that form interesting beach side architecture.
Directions: Tortuga Bay is located on Isla Santa Cruz, only a 2.5 km walk from Puerto Ayora.
This famous Galapagos landmark is not only beautiful to photograph, but it is also the spot to snorkel with the Galapagos penguins. They move very quickly in the water, torpedo like, so keep your eyes open, or else you may only see the trail of bubbles that they leave in their wake.
Directions: Pinnacle Rock is found at Isla Bartolome
Isla Bartolome from the summit
Isla Bartolome is a great place to leave your boat and the water and head out for a hike to a stunning viewpoint. You will walk to the summit of an ancient volcano, through a moonlike surface of craters and ash.
Isla South Plaza
Isla South Plaza was the driest island that I visited, it resembled a desert with many cacti. It was also where we spotted the very rare Hybrid Iguana and we swam with some very friendly and playful sea lions.
Giant Tortoise, Charles Darwin Research Station
You will find the Research Station only a 20 minute walk from downtown Puerto Ayora. This is the place to come to get up close and personal with a giant tortoise and to pose for that classic photo. You will also see baby giant tortoises in their nursery and you will meet Lonesome George. He is the last of his species. They have tried to mate him with similar species, but he's just not interested. The good news is that George is only 50 yrs old and they expect him to live another 50, which gives the researchers plenty of time to come up with another way to make sure his lineage carries on. Apparantly cloning has been suggested as an option.
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