An Ecuador tailormade vacation to the Galapagos Islands is a gateway journey that leads to exploring the archipelago both on cruises and on land. While most think a choice needs to be made between the two there are many ways to split your time on the water and island hopping. Keep reading for some of your options for an experience in the islands that are tailormade around your interests.
With the upswing of land tours in the islands comes a new wave of Galapagos land tours that find you staying on inhabited islands and discovering the natural highlights by day while having the freedom to wander coastal towns in the evening. These tours and extensions are ideal for those who want to combine active adventures on land like surfing and paddle boarding before or after a Galapagos cruise that takes you to the far reaches of the islands. If exploring by land is more your style, there are eight, nine, and ten day Galapagos land tours that include activities like snorkeling, biking, hiking, surfing, and kayaking with free days to explore on your own. Here are a few of your choices to take on the islands by land.
A longer Ecuador highlights trip on a Galapagos land tour takes you by speedboat between the three inhabited islands and includes biking, day trips to nearby islands to see wildlife, and gives you the freedom to set your own pace in the company of a guide. These tours offer are created to arrange budgets from backpacker to luxury. Here are some of Happy Gringo Travel’s recent additions for island hopping in the islands.
- Galapagos In-Depth
Island hopping in the islands is delving into the natural sites that have drawn explorers from all walks of life-from pirates to modern day intrepid travelers-for centuries. The 10 day Galapagos In-Depth tour takes you to the places where early settlers set up camp-San Cristobal where one of the island’s early water sources fostered a community in the highlands, Isabela where settlements on the shore and inland was the first to explore the island, and Santa Cruz, where some of the establishments on the island are run by the families of the first people to live on the Island.
Far from roughing it, this tour is full of activities that dive into the water for snorkeling at sites like Los Tuneles and Kicker Rock, summit the Sierra Negra volcano, and visit neighboring uninhabited islands including Bartholomew Island. The island’s claim to fame includes a Galapagos penguin colony in the bay around Pinnacle Rock-a great place to snorkel after exploring the inland trail where blue-footed boobies are often spotted on land and in the air.
- Galapagos Adventurer
Active land sports in the islands are also within grasp as surfing, biking, and stand up paddle boarding are taking hold on Santa Cruz, San Cristobal, and Isabela Islands. The 9 day Galapagos Adventurer land tour starts with a surfing lesson on San Cristobal-the best place in the Archipelago to catch a wave. Stand up paddle boarding here is also a great way to explore the waters off the coast-where sea lions and sea turtles are often companions when on the water. On Santa Cruz, biking from the highlands to the coast gets you off of the beaten track traveling from the home of giant tortoises to remote beaches that are the perfect end to an active day.
On Isabela, summiting the Sierra Negra volcano takes you through the arid zone where finches fly overhead to the edge of a six-mile active crater where the neighboring islands appear on the horizon on a clear day.
- Galapagos Explorer
For those who want to explore the natural sites of the inhabited islands that are high on the bucket list of those seeking solace from the crowds, the 8 day Galapagos Explorer tour takes you away from the fray and immerses you in the natural wonders of the islands. This Ecuador highlights trip in the archipelago finds you in the highlands of Santa Cruz where giant tortoises roam free in reserves, snorkeling underneath volcanic bridges at Los Tuneles on Isabela, and visit El Junco Lagoon on San Cristobal-where frigate birds and white-cheeked pintails are often seen at the water’s edge.
Shorter Galapagos land tours on a tailormade Ecuador vacation often include staying on land to explore the visitor sites of Isabela, Santa Cruz, and San Cristobal Islands. Galapagos hotel packages offer a variety of amenities, activities, and locations to suit your interests and budget. Extensions might include a stay on Isabela Island to climb the Sierra Negra volcano, a night or two on San Cristobal to snorkel around Kicker Rock, or a few days in the Santa Cruz highlands staying at an off-the-beaten-path safari camp where privacy is held at a premium.
For those who want a tried and true adventure on the sea combined with time wandering through the islands by land, Galapagos cruises take you to uninhabited islands that aren’t reached by island hopping. These journeys conjure up images of early explorers traveling with the wind when taking a trip on motorized sailboats or find you on shorter trips that anchor off of islands including Española, where the world’s largest waved albatross colony is in residence between April and December. Here are three boats for different budgets to consider when planning a tailormade Ecuador vacation in the Galapagos Islands.
- Mary Anne Cruise
The Mary Anne Galapagos cruise is a journey in the archipelago under three sails where perks include kayaks for exploring, elegant interiors, and attentive staff that goes out of their way to make sure everything is above board.
Two eight-day itineraries give you the choice between the eastern and the western islands-covering Galapagos highlights such as Genovesa, Rabida, and Santa Fe Islands to the east and Floreana, Isabela, and Santiago Islands to the west.
- Beagle Cruise
A motorized sail yacht in the comfortable class of boats, the Beagle Galapagos cruise gives you the chance to explore the central southern or western islands on eight days journeys.
Carrying only 14 passengers, these trips with an expert guide take you to multiple stops off the shores of Isabela and Fernandina Islands in the west, and cover many central islands including North Seymour, Chinese Hat, Española, and Santa Fe Islands. Chinese Hat Islet is only accessible by smaller boats-drawing a plethora of marine life and making snorkeling here an adventure.
- Darwin Cruise
For those looking for a good value yacht that offers shorter four and five-day trips, the Darwin Galapagos cruise ticks all the right boxes for discovering the Galapagos Islands by sea.
Four-day itineraries include the eastern islands of Bartholomew, Santiago, and North Seymour-the latter being one of the sites of large blue-footed booby and sea lion colonies. Five-day trips head to the western islands of Isabela and Rabida-where a red beach takes you into a surreal landscape that is out of this world.