Photo Courtesy of Shutterstock/sunsingerdragonfly in Isabela islandshrimp and fries in the food market in Puerto Ayorathe food market in Puerto Ayorasunset on Isabela islandLos TĂșneles in Isabela islandview on the hill in the Wall of Tears in Isabela islandsunset on Santa Cruz islandPunta Espinoza  /  Fernandina Island  -  a sunset

Families will love:

  • Seeing huge century-old tortoises on land
  • Snorkeling or scuba diving with sea lions and penguins
  • Taking boat rides with dolphins by your side

Trips to the Galapagos Islands, nearly all of which is a national park, typically happen aboard one of the 80 commercial cruises and yachts that ply its waters. Passengers are whisked around on a tightly choreographed schedule between islands. While convenient and comfortable, passengers must sleep on the boats and disembark only at strictly controlled wildlife viewing ... more
Trips to the Galapagos Islands, nearly all of which is a national park, typically happen aboard one of the 80 commercial cruises and yachts that ply its waters. Passengers are whisked around on a tightly choreographed schedule between islands. While convenient and comfortable, passengers must sleep on the boats and disembark only at strictly controlled wildlife viewing sites for short periods. They are also prohibitively expensive, often in excess of $6,000 per person. That's why more and more travelers are choosing to fly to the Galapagos Islands and stay at far more affordable eco-resorts on land-based trips.

Some 200,000 people arrive on the shores of the Galapagos Islands each year and now close to half of those visitors choose a land-based tour instead of a cruise. The advantage of staying on the islands over taking a cruise is that you're not traveling everywhere with a large group of people and you're meeting locals, many of whom have spent their entire lives on the islands. The disadvantage is that you have to stomach high-speed motorboat rides between islands, and you won't be able to see every wildlife encounter, like albatross congregating on a remote rock.

Each of the inhabited islands has their own appeal. All land-based trips start and end on Santa Cruz, the island closest to the airport. The harbor town of Puerto Ayora, located on Santa Cruz, is the major hub on the Galapagos Islands, and also the port where you'll boat to all the other islands. Floreana is the smallest and most serene of all isles. Isabela is the largest island and offers great wildlife viewing opportunities, including spotting penguins, blue-footed booties, land tortoises, sea turtles and flamingoes. San Cristobal is known for its exemplary snorkeling and scuba diving, especially off Kicker Rock. It really doesn't matter which island you choose. You'll see a mesmerizing mix of wildlife and realize why the fortunate few who have visited the Galapagos call these islands magical.

Written by Stephen Jermanok less

Galapagos Islands Planning & Tips
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