In todays 21st century we can pick up our phones and see what is happening in the world without leaving our home. Some people like to use virtual reality to discover the world from their couch. Instead of being a cyborg like these people I suggest you leave home and explore the Galápagos Islands.
Why Go to the Galápagos Islands?
The Galápagos Islands are some of the most beautiful and majestic islands on earth. Going there will give you an educational experience of a lifetime. Here you can come and study the evolutionary importance and formation of the Archipelago as well as take on some peaceful to adrenaline rushing activities.
The landmass of the Galápagos Archipelago consists of 13 large islands, 6 small islands and hundreds of tiny islets and exposed rocks. The entire landmass covers roughly 8,000 square kilometers (3,090 square miles). All of the islands arose from the molten of underwater volcanoes. These islands straddle the Equator in the Eastern Pacific Ocean. It is easy to spot Isabela Island from a distance because it is shaped like a seahorse and has 5 large volcanoes.
If you want to go home having done some research then make sure to go to the Charles Darwin Research Center in Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz Island.
The cool/dry season is from June to November with daytime temperatures below 24°C (75°F). The warm/wet season is from December to May with daytime temperatures up to 30°C (86°F). Ocean currents and trade winds are the reason for the two contrasting seasons. During the cool/dry season trade winds blow from the southeast bringing in the Humboldt Current from South America. During the warm/wet season the northeasterly trade winds draw in the warm equatorial waters from the Panama Current. There are a lot more tourists this time of year due to the sunny skies and warm water.
Sally Lightfoot Crab
The Sally Lightfoot crab is a beautiful bright multicolor scavenger crab that is found along the coastline of the Galápagos Islands and coastal water ways of Southern and Central America. In the picture above, the crab is a fully grown adult because of its intense blue and red coloring. As youngsters they tend to travel in large groups and when they hit maturity they become solitary when they are not mating. This photo was taken on the cost of Isla Santiago.
Animals over Humans
Are you the kind of person who loves animals and hates people? If yes, then visiting these islands is a must. Here you can limit human interaction, reduce stress and pocket your phones made by man kind since you will have limited to no cell service on most of the Islands. Ecuador limits and keeps track of how many people fly and take a boat in and out of the Galápagos Islands which makes it easily possible for you to seclude yourself from all the horrible and annoying humans you have to put up with at home. You will surround yourself with majestic and peaceful wildlife. These islands have some of the most ravishing and harmless animals and as long as you don’t interfere with them (which you shouldn’t) then they may just in fact come up to you for the perfect picture.
At any point you are forced to interact with the human species, like during transportation, going out to eat, shopping, or use public restrooms I guarantee you you will run into the kindest down to earth locals and tourist that treat you with respect. The locals will go the extra steps to help you find your way around. Although tips are not required, the locals live off tips so I encourage you to be a good human and bring some extra cash. Although speaking Spanish will help, you can get around just fine with English or any other language.
The Galápagos Iguanas are the only Marine Iguanas that have adapted to swim in water. They are herbivores that eat the algae and seaweed underwater. Charles Darwin called them the “most disgusting, clumsy lizards”. These Galápagos Iguanas have a very short life span of 5-12 years and are often under pressure to survive due to non-native predators like dogs, cats and rats that like to eat them and their eggs. This photo was taken in Isla Isabela.
If you are a scuba diver or would like to learn you will be guaranteed to have a blast. You will get to dive through underwater lava tunnels and see some of the most beautiful fish and coral in the South American waters. There are plenty PADI (International Dive Training Association) dive center’s in most of the towns.
If you like to kayak there are plenty of places off each main island you can rent kayaks. When you get tired of kayaking and you feel like your burning alive from the sun beating down on your body you can flip yourself out of the kayak and go snorkeling with the giant sea turtles, sea lions, penguins, dolphins, and fish.
If you are a day hiker or backpacker who loves the feeling of standing above the clouds and want the satisfaction of accomplishing what most people can’t then you will have plenty of beautiful views when you get to the top of the volcanoes.
If you are a biker there are bikes to rent on Isabella island. The bikes work just fine and you can bike along the coastline and through the town. There are some great lookout points you can stop at and rest.
If you love boats and want to eat out on the ocean then take a speedboat around and enjoy the scenery. You may get lucky and see stingrays, penguins, and dolphins jumping in and out of the water.
If you don’t want to pull a muscle doing extreme activities then these islands are perfect for your next vacation. You can chill out on the beach and lay in the sun until you have that unnatural camel color tan or avoid burning and chill in the shade on a hammock outside your room. Those of you that like to shop until you drop will have plenty of shops to stop at. Most of the products are handmade by the locals which means you are getting product that is made with love.
For those that want to go on light and short walking tours there are turtle sanctuaries and of course the Charles Darwin Center on Santa Cruz Isla. The land that the center sits on is mostly flat and easy on the feet. There are plenty of easy walks along the beaches and short walks though town.
The Galápagos Flamingos are gregarious wading birds that measure between 120-140cm in length weighing between 2 and 3 kilograms. The Galápagos Flamingos are normally found in salt-water lagoons hidden in the lava fields. In the picture above you can see that each flamingo is standing on only one leg. Some believe that this allows the birds to preserve body heat and conserve energy. This photo was taken in Santa Cruz.
The Major Towns
Isla Santa Cruz
Isla de San Cristóbal
- HAVE U.S. BILLS BEFORE YOU GET THE QUITO, ECUADOR AIRPORT. You should always have physical cash on hand. The ATM at the Airport does not let you take out much money per transaction. Plus there can be a line. Isabella Island (Main Island) is the only Island in which you will find 2-3 ATM’s next to the main Grocery store.
- When arriving and leaving each island you will probably have to go through a quick security check. Their jobs are to make sure you are not bringing in or taking out anything illegal. I suggest keeping your locks off your bags and pack in a way you can empty and refill your bags quickly.
- If at any point you have to take speed boat, water taxi, bus, or truck know that your bag(s) will be thrown around a lot. Your bag will get dirty and may be tightly shoved under the seats or crushed at the bottom of 300+ other bags. Any liquids, electronics, and fragile items should be carried in your day bag when transporting.
- Make sure to pack all your clothes and any items you don’t want to get wet, put them into vacuum seal bag. Your clothes will never dry unless you are in a room with air conditioner. Most hotels, hostels, guesthouses, and campsite do not have an air conditioner or at least a good one.
- Make sure to pack your camera, computer, phone, chargers and all other electronic devices with lots of dry packs. There will be a lot of moisture and wrapping these items in a water proof sealed pouch will not keep them from soaking up the moisture.
- If you are staying in hotels, hostels, guesthouses or campsites don’t expect to do laundry. There are very few laundry facilities on the islands and the ones that exist don’t have quality machines.
- As much as bringing a personal drone would be awesome I recommend leaving it home since they are not allowed. The islands are not that big and drones can be heard from miles away. The rangers may confiscate the footage and/or drone and fine you for breaking the rules.
- If you plan on snorkeling or diving you should bring your own wetsuit, mask, and snorkel so you don’t have to borrow smelly used equipment.
A Traveler’s Introduction -Galápagos by Wayne Lynch
This is the book to read for those of you who need lots of convincing pictures and less text.
Ecuador & the Galápagos Island Travel Guide by Lonely Planet
This book is a great guide on how to travel like a tourist and places you don’t want to miss.
This website allows you to plan and book your dream vacation as well as live chat with one of the local representatives.