Each day in the Galapagos brings new horizons to discover. Cruises travel overnight to far off islands, land based trips offer day excursions to the coast and highlands of San Cristobal, Santa Cruz, and Isabela; and both give you options for activities in the tropics that go beyond the beaten path. Keep reading for a few fun activities to try while in the archipelago.
Stand Up Paddle Boarding
Stand up paddle boarding is a fun way to spend the day when visiting Santa Cruz, Isabela, or San Cristobal. The sport has taken hold in the islands, and many hotels and tour operators rent boards on a walk in bases.
Devine Bay on Santa Cruz Island is a sheltered beach that lends itself to novices. The calm waters are a great setting to learn the basics of SUP, alongside sea lions and turtles swimming beneath the waves.
The bay of Puerto Villamil on Isabela is another popular spot for stand up paddle boarding. The waters are home to sea turtles and Galapagos penguins, making a day on the water an adventure that combines skill with discovering the the wildlife of the islands.
Ochoa Beach on San Cristobal is a white sand beach just up the coast from the main town of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno. For stand up paddle boarders who want to explore the coast, rent a board in town and paddle your way to the beach. The clear waters and nearby Kicker Rock make it a goto spot for watersports, including kayaking and snorkeling.
Galakiwi, one of the original companies that specialize in custom island-hopping tours through the islands, has added a ten-day SUP tour to their repertoire. The itinerary includes active adventures both in and out of the water on Santa Cruz, Isabela, and San Cristobal Islands. Highlights include hiking to the summit of the Sierra Negra volcano, snorkeling with hammerhead sharks around Kicker Rock, cliff jumping at Las Grietas, and biking to the Wall of Tears.
For those looking for an adventure on land while in the islands, exploring by horseback immerses you in the stunning scenery of the islands. Horses were originally brought to the islands hundreds of years ago by an American colonist, and the animals that are used today are their descendants. Treks are available on Santa Cruz, Isabela, and San Cristobal.
Santa Cruz Island
Exploring the highlands of Santa Cruz puts you in the lush landscape of the higher elevations of the island. Popular stops include El Chato Tortoise Reserve, where Giant tortoises roam free in the wild, and neighboring coffee and sugarcane farms.
A favorite trek by horseback on Isabela Island is up to the top of the Seirra Negra volcano. Trips start early in the morning to avoid the heat and make it to the six-mile wide crater just in time for the sun to burn through the morning clouds. The trip starts at sea level and continues through the cloud forest; the last leg is above the tree line through barren volcanic fields to the summit.
San Cristobal is another great spot to jump in the saddle and head into the hillside of the highlands of the islands. Tours normally stop at El Junco Lagoon before continuing on into the higher elevations.
The Galapagos Islands are considered to be one of the best diving sites in the world because of the incredible variety of marine life that the fertile waters attract from all over the world. During the dry season between July and December, the cool waters of the Huboldt Current mix with the warmer waters of the islands, creating a sprawling eco-system that is teaming with schools of fish, whales, whale sharks, sea turtles and sea lions, dolphins, and rays.
Exploring alongside hammerhead sharks is a favorite moment for divers of all levels, and sites like Gordon Rocks off of San Cristobal, and the point at the mouth of the Seymour channel are good spots to find hammerheads, as well as sea turtles and lions, rays, and massive schools of reef fish that feed and clean themselves around tropical coral reefs.
The Guy Fawkes and Puento Carrion dive sites are perfect for beginning and intermediate divers. Guy Fawkes is a set of submerged volcanic tuff cones; sloping walls descend deep into the depths where eels, rays, and white-tipped reef sharks clean themselves on the coral admidst thousands of reef fish. Puento Carrion is another feeding ground for hammerhead sharks and is one of the best place to photograph white and black tipped reef sharks.
Happy Gringo has a select set of options for those who want to spend time diving in the Galapagos. We offer day dive tours, live aboard cruises, and land-based dive adventures. For more information, visit the dive section of our website.
For more information about our Galapagos Islands tours and the activities that we can arrange for intrepid travellers, contact a member of our team through the Happy Gringo site or our toll-free number.
by Jon Jared