Located over six hundred miles off the coast of Ecuador, the Galapagos Islands are teeming with unique wildlife and boast stunning landscapes, making it a fantastic destination for visitors who love to spend plenty of time outdoors. It’s a destination that appeals to adventure enthusiasts offering numerous outdoor activities for adults and kids – from hiking to snorkelling and more! Here are the top 10 reasons to visit the Galapagos Islands.
1. To See the Wildlife
The incredible wildlife is one of the main reasons why the Galapagos Islands have become a popular tourist destination. According to some theories, the original wildlife species have made their way to the islands through flotation rafts of vegetation carried to the island through wind and sea currents.
And since the islands remain isolated for a long time, the wildlife in the Galapagos has not developed a fear of humans. Because of this, you can get close to animals like giant tortoises, which is a fascinating experience.
2. To Explore the Ecosystems
The Galapagos Islands have three main ecosystems – terrestrial, coastal and marine, and you’ll learn more about them during your visit. These ecosystems are the reasons why a wealth of unique plants and animals have thrived on the islands.
Each ecosystem has a unique characteristic. The terrestrial zone predominates heavy rains, benefiting the plants and animals that live on the islands. Meanwhile, the marine and coastal zones have abundant seaweed that feeds the marine iguanas.
3. To Cruise Around the Islands
There’s no better way to tour the Galapagos islands than to sail on a cruise ship. Most cruises in the archipelago offer multi-day itineraries strictly monitored by the officials that manage the Galapagos National Park.
Families and small groups can take the small Galapagos cruises, which come with personalised experiences and fun excursions, such as kayaking and snorkelling. You will be with a knowledgeable guide who will share fascinating insights about the wildlife you’ll come across.
4. To Go Snorkelling
Whether you’re booking water or land-based tours in the Galapagos, these tours will include fun activities like snorkelling. Snorkelling in the Galapagos Islands is an exciting experience, given the fascinating and rich marine life.
In fact, even when you’re still in your boat, you can already stumble upon curious sea lions and quirky penguins observing you come closer. As you explore underwater, you’ll be amazed at the abundance of marine life that has lived on the islands.
5. To Take in the Incredible Landscapes
The Galapagos Islands boast fantastic landscapes inhabited by some of the most friendly and incredible creatures. Its most prevalent feature is the dynamic volcanic landscape formed about five million years ago.
The best way to explore the archipelago’s stunning landscapes is through trekking, where you will be with a naturalist guide certified by the Galapagos National Park. As you discover the islands’ landscapes, keep your eyes peeled for the unique wildlife you could meet along the way.
6. To Experience the Culture
You will also have the opportunity to explore local villages on your trip to the Galapagos Islands, which is a great way to glimpse into the local culture. During your tour, you’ll discover how locals have learned to cultivate crops in a landscape formed by wind and fire. While the incredible wildlife attracts most visitors to the Galapagos Islands, time spent with the locals is also a rewarding experience.
One of the best towns to explore in the Galapagos is Puerto Ayora, the main town of Santa Cruz Island. It has about 12,000 residents and is home to several hotels, bars, and restaurants.
7. Stroll on Pristine Beaches
The Galapagos Islands have beaches as diverse as the islands themselves, featuring vast stretches of white sands and home to a fascinating array of marine animals, such as sea lions, penguins, and marine iguanas.
Gardner Bay is one of the most popular beaches in the archipelago, with stunning white sand beaches shaded by palm trees. Snorkellers will discover colourful marine life, including dolphins and manta rays. It’s also an ideal spot for kayaking and other water activities.
8. Enjoy Complete Remoteness and Seclusion
Since the number of visitors to the Galapagos Islands is limited, you can enjoy complete remoteness and seclusion. Because of this, it has become an ideal destination for honeymooners who want to enjoy privacy during their romantic getaway.
You will not find many tourists on most islands, allowing you to fully appreciate the stunning landscapes that the archipelago is famous for. It’s also the same for its beaches, where you won’t be sharing space with too many visitors, which makes for a more relaxing experience.
9. Walk in the Footsteps of Charles Darwin
Visiting the Galapagos Islands allows you to walk in the footsteps of Charles Darwin, an English biologist famous for his theory of evolution. He first arrived on San Cristobal Island, the easternmost island in the archipelago.
You will learn more about his works at the Charles Darwin Research Station, a research facility preserving an extensive collection of specimens from the Galapagos. The research station aims to educate through scientific research to ensure the conservation of the environment and biodiversity in the Galapagos.
10. Get Up and Close with Giant Tortoises
The giant tortoises are some of the most popular species in the Galapagos Islands and are what most visitors would look forward to seeing on their visit. These creatures arrived in the archipelago from the mainland of South America some two million years ago.
You will find them living on the arid islands, where they spend an average of 16 hours each day resting.
The Santa Cruz highlands and Isabela Island’s Alcedo Volcano are two of the most popular places where you will find a large population of giant tortoises. During the cold season, they are most active at midday. They feed on fruits, grasses, and cacti and enjoy bathing in water, although they can survive for up to a year without food or water.