Expect the unexpected – surprising things to see in the Galapagos

AUTHOR The Ecoventura Team

Think of the Galapagos and it’s likely that images of azure blue waters, and soft, pale sandy beaches will come to mind, perhaps inhabited by a dozing sealion or two.

Throw in some century-old giant tortoises, an array of birdlife, tropical fish darting beneath the waves and a quick mention of Darwin’s theories on evolution and your image of the Galapagos is complete. Right? Wrong!

There’s more to these incredible islands than meets the eye, with a few unexpected sights that make a visit here even more remarkable than you might have thought.

In no particular order, we list just a few of the more unusual or unexpected things that you might encounter on a week long cruise with Ecoventura:

Volcanic Wonders

An explosive start to the list – as famous as the Galapagos Islands are, few who visit associate them with the ongoing volcanic activity that helped form the archipelago, and indeed are shaping them to this day. Wolf Volcano on Isabela Island erupted in spectacular fashion on January 6, 2022. Spewing red hot lava down its flanks and creating a lava flow stretching for miles across the island, this spectacular sight is more common than you may think; Wolf Volcano last erupted in 2015, whilst the Galapagos experience eruptions on different islands every few years. Fortunately, given the majority of the islands are uninhabited, the explosions tend not to pose risks to visitors or residents, instead offering spectacular views for those lucky enough to be nearby – as some of our passengers on Origin were when Wolf blew its top.

A post box with a difference

Often referred to as the most unusual post box in the world, the site that gives Floreana Island’s Post Office Bay its name was founded back in 1793, making it the oldest post box on the islands by some margin. Passing whalers would leave post here, stored safely in an empty barrel next to the beach, to be collected and taken home by fellow sailors heading in the opposite direction. This unusual set up continues to this day, as visitors continue to leave post cards in the barrel. Fellow travellers then flick through the pile looking for any post destined for an address close to home. With any luck, they will take it with them and ensure it makes it to its destination when they return home from their trip!

An 80 foot blowhole

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On the Southern coast of Española Island, where cliffs fall away to the wide expanse of the Pacific Ocean, a volcanic fissure has carved the black rock apart. As waves crash in to the cliffside, water is forced in to the fissure under high pressure. During high tide, the force of the incoming waves creates a blowhole, spraying water that can reach up to 30 metres high. The blowhole can be reached on foot by following trails across the islands. In the right conditions, lucky guests will be treated to an even more spectacular sight; a rainbow often forms as the sun shines through the spray.

Warm weather penguins

Whilst the Galapagos is famous for its remarkable range of charismatic creatures above and below the waves, not many people know that the Galapagos also hosts the world’s most northerly population of penguins. These endemic birds – found nowhere else on earth – are the only penguins found north of the equator, living in caves and crevices in the volcanic rock of several of the Galapagos islands. As agile below the waves as they are clumsy above them, these penguins can often be seen by snorkelers, zipping through the water hunting fish; a thrilling sight that won’t be forgotten in a hurry!

The stars align

With the Galapagos Islands straddling the equator, visitors are well placed to see the constellations of both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres at the same time – a phenomenon that most stargazers won’t experience. What’s more, given the islands are so remote – only four are inhabited, after all – light pollution is kept to a minimum. And for Ecoventura passengers, who will be spending their evenings at sea away from any urban areas, conditions couldn’t be better – the skies alight with the number of stars, something many of us living in big cities and towns rarely get to see. So head up to the sundeck, enjoy the wide, ocean sky and settle in for some serious stargazing.

Orcas, humpbacks and manta rays

The waters around the Galapagos, known as the Galapagos Marine Reserve, which is due to be expanded following an announcement in 2021, is a famous haven for a host of marine animals, including sealions, dolphins, various shark species, tortoises, and many types of fish. On every Ecoventura voyage guests are guaranteed to see a large number of these majestic animals; no trip to the islands would be complete without it. But the Galapagos is also home to some much larger and more unusual creatures, including killer whales, otherwise known as orcas, humpback whales and manta rays. Whilst these graceful beasts are much rarer, keep your eyes peeled and you may be rewarded with an extraordinary sighting.

To explore the remarkable, fascinating Galapagos Islands for yourself on an Ecoventura voyage, contact the team and we’d be happy to help!