You want to visit the Galapagos Islands but don’t know where to start, or what to expect. We know it can be difficult since there is so much to do and see, and you might only have a week. We’ve listed out 10 of the top experiences you will want to look for when you are searching for the perfect Galapagos cruise itinerary.
The National Park sets all of the cruise itineraries in order to maintain a sustainable balance on the islands. Each itinerary is designed to have a mixture of habitats and show case the diversity of the islands by combining the Southern Espanola and Floreana, Central, Western Fernandina, Isabela or Northern Genovesa Islands. Some boats will visit 2 or 3 of these areas during a week, while others will visit more. For example our A & B itineraries each visit at least 6 islands so you get an overview of the diverse ecosystem.
1. Search for the great Giant Galapagos Tortoise in their natural habitat
Travel to the lush highlands of Santa Cruz and get the opportunity to visit a private farm and see these giant reptiles roaming in their natural habitat.
The Galapagos Giant Tortoise is the largest living species of tortoise and 13th heaviest living reptile, reaching over 880 lb and over 5.9 ft. They can live in the wild for over 100 years.
2. Dive Deep Under
The waters of the Galapagos are filled with unique animals swimming beneath the surface and home to two of the best dive sites on the planet, Wolf & Darwin.
Marine mammals here aren’t afraid of humans, sea lions will swim right up to you and start playfully swimming around you. It is common to see everything from white-tip sharks, schools of Barracuda, yellowfin tuna and if you’re lucky you might run into the gentle yet massive whale shark. While we don’t offer diving on the Eric, Flamingo or Letty, we do offer it on our live aboard, Galapagos Sky.
3. Hike on recently formed lava
The terrain might surprise you when you step off your Panga onto recent lava flows. Fernandina is one of the youngest Galapagos islands and is home to La Cumbre volcano, one of the most active volcanoes in the world. Due to the recent volcanic activity, the landscape is rocky and lacking much plant life, but is where you will find the famous Flightless Cormorant as well as hundreds of marine iguanas, penguins, sea lions and more.
Fernandina is set apart from the other islands because it has no introduced species of mammals, and is considered the most pristine of the Galapagos Islands.
4. Swim and stroll on the beach with sea lions
This is many guests favorite memory of visiting the Galapagos Islands. Whether you are snorkeling, diving or simply laying on the beach, sea lions will always want to play. They are some of the most curious and playful mammals you will encounter on your stay. Although they will swim right up to you, please avoid touching them. Have fun, stroll on the beach with them, take fun photos but still be respectful of their space.
5. Taste the local Ecuadorian cuisine and fresh ingredients
While you’re in Ecuador enjoy the delicious and fresh ingredients the country offers. 60% of the food used onboard Ecoventura’s fleet is locally sourced from the islands and deliciously designed by our chef. This helps give you a more authentic experience in addition to protecting the islands from invasive plant species and insects shipped from the mainland.
6. Stay warm with Galapagos marine iguanas
The marine iguana is found only in the Galapagos and has the ability to live and forage in the sea. They can dive over 30 feet and survive exclusively on underwater algae and seaweed. You will mainly see them living on the rocky shore, sunbathing and piled together to stay warm.
7. Fall in love with the sea birds
Birding in the Galapagos is a once in a lifetime opportunity. The variety of species and unique adaptation each bird has made to survive is one of a kind. With many endemic species to the Galapagos, if you’re lucky you might be able to see upwards of 40 different types of birds during your one week in the Galapagos.
Seabirds especially are exciting to experience in that they are one of the only birds that include ritualized dances in their courtship. These dances are complex and can include displays and vocalizations that vary greatly between families.
8. Learn the blue footed booby dance
During mating season (June to August), male Blue-Footed Boobies show off their feet to prospective mates with a high-stepping strut. The bluer the feet, the more attractive the mate. It starts by the male first offering the female a stick or small stone, followed by him turning towards the sky and letting out a loud whistle. Finally, they both dance around each other, showing off their blue feet and if the female is satisfied she will decide to mate.
9. Watch for whales and dolphins
You never know when you will spot a pod of dolphins or whales swim up to your boat. Keep an eye out during your morning cup of coffee or while you are enjoying lunch on the boat and let your naturalist guide know when you spot them! They will usually do all that they can to get you closer to see the animals up close.
10. Snorkel with penguins
Yes, you heard me correct, penguins aren’t only in the icy cold weather, the Galapagos Penguin is endemic to the islands and is the only penguin that lives north of the equator. When you are lucky enough to be in the water with them you can watch them dive off the rocks and shoot through the water like a torpedo and follow the bubbles marking their trail.
These are 10 of our top experiences we think everyone who visits the Galapagos should try to do.