The Galapagos Islands are some of the most incredible places on Earth. It’s a destination best suited for people who want to discover wildlife, nature, and pristine beaches. Thanks to its lack of natural predators, you can get close to giant sea tortoises and playful sea lions, offering a fascinating experience. The archipelago consists of about 19 islands scattered across the coast of Ecuador along the Pacific Ocean.
Below, check out the top 6 things not to miss whilst visiting the Galapagos Islands.
1. A Snorkelling Adventure
Snorkelling is one of the most exciting experiences you should not miss in the Galapagos Islands. Snorkelling in the Galapagos is unlike anything you will experience. Here, you could spot many fascinating creatures underwater, such as a strange-looking marine iguana darting down to the seafloor while feeding on algae.
Only in the Galapagos will you find these marine creatures who have mastered the art of underwater foraging. Seeing them underwater is an incredible experience. But for those who are not into snorkelling, don’t fret. Iguanas also live on land in large colonies, and you could come across them as you explore the islands.
Aside from the marine iguanas, you will see many other captivating animals on your snorkelling adventure. You can also swim with green sea turtles and manta rays. Sometimes, you will have the opportunity to come nose to nose with a sea lion. These curious creatures will swim right up to you before diving under and over to show their tricks.
2. The Volcanoes
The islands that make up the Galapagos were a result of volcanic islands. Thus, one of the things you should not miss while in the Galapagos is to explore volcanoes. As you explore from one island to another, you will discover unique volcanic geographies, such as volcanic lava fields and lava tubes.
Consider climbing to the top of the Sierra Negra volcano. Although most views in the Galapagos Islands are at sea level, hiking up to the higher vantage point will reward you with the island’s panoramic views.
The Sierra Negra volcano sits on Isabela Island, the largest among the Galapagos Islands, having an altitude of over a thousand metres. While most people will hike to the top, those not keen on walking can ride a horse along the black and red lava fields surrounding the summit’s expansive crater.
3. The Wildlife around the Islands
One of the charms of the Galapagos Islands is being able to get up close and personal with fascinating wildlife. Visitors often book some incredible Galapagos cruises to see more of the mesmerising wildlife species on the archipelago. Whether you love animals or not, you will surely enjoy your adventure in the Galapagos.
What makes the Galapagos Islands unique is that the animals here are unafraid of humans. Since the archipelago remained isolated for so long, the animals have not developed a fear of humans.
When you go near them to get a close-up photo, they will not get frightened, allowing you to capture the best shots. In fact, the Galapagos Islands are a haven for wildlife photographers since the animals won’t seem to mind even when you get close to them.
4. The Centre of San Cristobal
San Cristobal is one of the largest and easternmost islands of the Galapagos. If you want to kick back, relax, and soak up the local vibe, visit the centre of San Cristobal. It’s the perfect place to spend some downtime and get on with the local rhythm as you soak up the vibe of the sleepy island.
Explore San Cristobal harbour, where you will find many pastel-coloured shops and cafes. Grab a seat on the veranda, and order a cup of Ecuadorian coffee. Keep your eyes peeled on the wildlife, such as pelicans trawling for fish by the sea edge. You could also spot some sea lions sunning themselves on the decks of the boats at the harbour. Marvel in awe as these fascinating creatures fold their flippers casually across their fronts.
5. Tortuga Bay on Santa Cruz
If there’s one place you should never miss on your visit to the Galapagos, it’s Tortuga Bay. It’s home to beautiful beaches where you can swim, relax, sunbathe, or take a relaxing walk. If you’re looking for a place to spend some downtime after a day of cruising the islands, Tortuga Bay is the best place to go.
It’s worth noting that you cannot swim directly from the main beach of Tortuga Bay due to the strong currents. However, you can swim at the nearby cove, a more sheltered area safe to swim and snorkel. You can also rent kayaks to explore the cove.
Birdwatching is also a popular activity in Tortuga Bay since it’s home to incredible species of birds. Head to the salt lagoon backing into the mangroves, where you can spot birds like finches, pelicans, and numerous flamingos.
There are many ways to visit Tortuga Bay. Most of the Galapagos cruises will include a visit to this place. You can also walk towards Tortuga Bay from Puerto Ayora, which should take an hour. It’s perfect for those who love to hike. You could spot some wildlife during your walk, allowing for a more enjoyable experience.
6. Cerro Tijeretas
Hiking to Cerro Tijeretas is one of the most popular activities in the Galapagos Islands. Also called Frigate Bird Hill due to the presence of frigate birds, it’s on Isla San Cristobal, a short distance from Port Baquerizo Moreno.
You will come across several viewpoints during your hike, from where you can admire breathtaking views of nature. It will also take you to an inlet, where you can go snorkelling. The trail is well-paved, but don’t forget to wear a hat and apply sunscreen since it can get hot.
Be sure to stop by at some viewing points in the woods, where you can admire the stunning views of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno and the ocean. Since the hike requires ascent, take advantage of the viewing points to catch your breath and snap some photos.