• Galapagos Islands Holidays

Galapagos Islands Information

Welcome to our Galapagos Island information pages! Here you can find out all about the Galapagos Islands as a safari and holiday destination and start planning your once in a lifetime journey to the wildlife-rich Galapagos Islands.

This section of the site will be forever a work-in progress as we continue to build and share our expert knowledge, so be sure to check back often for updates, or let us know if there is something you think we should be sharing!

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Galapagos Islands Holidays

How long should you stay?

Discover the ideal time to spend exploring the Galapagos Islands, making sure you experience everything you want to.

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Swimming with sea lions,  Galapagos Islands

Swimming with sea lions

Can you swim with the Galapagos sea lions on your adventure through these unique islands?

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Espanola Marine Iguana, Galapagos Islands

The Best Galapagos Islands

Our idea of the best places to visit during yout time in the Galapagos Islands, the wildlife you may see and the activities.

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Galapagos Islands Holidays

Where are the Galapagos Islands?

The location of these magnificent islands and how to get there for your extraordinary Galapagos Island journey.

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Do you need to be fit to enjoy the Galapagos Islands?

With their rugged volcanic hinterlands edged by an inviting green, white and turquoise margin, the Galápagos Islands are certainly photogenic enough to be enjoyed from the deck of a ship. From this vantage point, you’ll observe boobies arrowing into the ocean and spy the heads of sea lions as they nose above the surface. Neither is any fitness required to board a small motor launch and disembark in a string of locations populated by iguanas, giant tortoises and sea lions. 

Indeed, these encounters could be enough to sate the species-spotting tendencies of the less-adventurous traveller.

Moreover, the quirks of the Galápagos Islands’ location – strewn across the tropics but cooled by the Humboldt Current – ensure that the climate is neither oppressively hot nor especially humid. The hotter, wetter season runs from December to May, during which time the air temperature averages 25°C and the sea is warmed under clear skies. The dry season, running from June to November, is not drastically different in character, but increased mist and cloud do tend to bring the air temperature down by a few degrees and prevent the sun from taking the chill off the water. 

Therefore, visitors with sun hats and ample sunscreen need not fear the climate that prevails in this tropical anomaly. 

However, to truly get the most out of a visit to this unique archipelago, you do need to take a hike to reach the best beaches, perches and perspectives. So, if you plan to climb a volcano for a stunning panoramic vista, stroll on the flour-soft sands of Tortuga Beach or join the blue-footed boobies and waved albatross atop the cliffs of Española, you need to be able to walk at a moderate pace for up to one hour each way through the dry heat and, potentially, up and down a steady slope.

That’s not all, though. Besides having a couple of hours of hiking power in your bodily batteries, you should also go to the Galápagos physically prepared for a swim in the Pacific. It would be a terrible shame if you had the chance to take the plunge with penguins or snorkel near sea lions but let a low level of fitness dissuade you from getting wet. If you do go for it, though, you have to keep moving in these relatively cool waters to keep the shivers at bay – and this is especially the case if you’ve dived from your boat into the open ocean. 

Why would you do such a thing? To paddle alongside a passing sea turtle, of course!

Swimming with turtles, Galapagos Islands

What animals will I see in the Galapagos Islands?

Although there’s no such thing, outside of captivity, as a certainty of seeing rare animals anywhere in the world, the incredibly biodiverse Galápagos Islands come as close as anywhere to offering a guarantee. And what remarkable species you’ll see, many of them endemic to the archipelago and completely indifferent to the encroachment of humans on their little patch of paradise.

Perhaps the most iconic species from this whole menagerie of ultra-specialists is the giant tortoise. 

As the Spanish word for tortoise is ‘Galapago’, a giant dollop of reptile appreciation is therefore a must on any itinerary. The only guarantee that you’ll see a giant tortoise, though, is by viewing them in captivity – the Charles Darwin Research Station on Santa Cruz is the obvious place to see these aged beings haul their carapaces around.

rare reptiles

Another reptile you’re almost certain to see on any itinerary is the marine iguana. It’s the only iguana in the world that can forage in the sea, and the only one that’s entirely endemic to the Galápagos. Look out for these grey-and-blotchy-red reptiles sneezing the salt out of their nasal cavities while sunning themselves. Their yellow/grey land-based relatives tend to be found a little further inland soaking up the sun with what looks like a smile of contentment on their nobbled faces. Also adhering to this colour scheme are the wonderfully named Sally Lightfoot crabs – which start out grey when young and turn yellow and red when they reach sexual maturity. 

The quieter shores of Santa Cruz are a good place to see these nimble crustaceans tip-toeing about their business.

wildlife under water

In an around the water you are likely to spot sea lions bobbing about. Moreover, if you visit Isabela or Española in particular, there’s a good chance you’ll see them up close, either sprawled out on the beaches or keeping an inky eye on you as you flipper about in your snorkel gear. Other species you could see when snorkelling are stingrays, parrotfish, damselfish and angelfish, to name but a few fish, as well as the Galápagos green turtle and Galápagos penguin. The islands of Isabela and Bartolome are among the better bets for seeing the latter. 

Snorkel in deeper water and you might just see whales, dolphins or hammerhead sharks ghosting through the ocean far below you.

flying high

Wheeling about the skies, waddling on rocks or bobbing on the water will be numerous species of birds. Although Española is the top destination for seeing blue-footed boobies and waved albatross up close, Isabela is also rich in avian life – including the balloon-throated frigate bird and the shabby-limbed flightless cormorant. 

Finches, hawks, mockingbirds and flamingos are also possible sights – while pelicans, herons and the folded-umbrella form of the boobie as it missiles down for fish are almost certain sightings on your cruise around the Galápagos.

Galapagos Islands Holidays

Everything you need to know about Galapagos Island family holidays...

Whether you’re a seven-year-old first-time traveller, a fortysomething wildlife-watching veteran or a septuagenarian with a passport full of show-off stamps, the Galapagos Islands has the power to make everyone see the world through the eyes of a child. 

That alone should secure this beguiling destination as the ultimate family holiday destination.

Why?

The Galapagos Islands provide a safe, comfortable and – most importantly – indelible experience for all of the family. No matter how old you are, these beach-scalloped islands create a real sense of exploration – spying the next landfall, hopping onto a different island and setting out to see the quirky and colourful creatures that each port of call is famed for. So whilst mum and dad can take things at an adult pace (Another sundowner, dear? Don’t mind if I do…), the kids will be ushered through experiences by specialist guide who can bring nature to life in a fun and unforgettable way. From iguanas noisily blowing salt from their nostrils, to birds that can’t fly (huh!?), boobies with bright blue feet, giant tortoises that can live to over 100 years old, and sea lions that are indolent on land but hyper-inquisitive in water, the Galapagos Islands are the greatest classroom conceivable. 

Back on board, the children can indulge in games, parties and dancing, and choose from menus designed with young appetites in mind.

Where?

Cruising between islands presents a great opportunity to look out for whales, dolphins, turtles and penguins, while the Charles Darwin Research Station and Tortoise Centre on Santa Cruz, Pinnacle Rock on Bartolomé Island, the iguana-piled Santa Fe and bird-circled Española islands are some of the must-see spots on dry land. To extend the explorer experience onto terra firma, why not sleep under canvas at Galapagos Safari Camp on Santa Cruz then take to horseback for a different view of this truly unique eco-system. 

Back on the mainland of Ecuador, that capital Quito with its colonial architecture and ring of volcanoes offers a fascinating bookend to your Galapagos adventure, and also puts a trip to the handicraft market of Otavalo and the equator (Mitad del Mundo) within easy reach. 

A day exploring the charming city of Cuenca – considered the most beautiful in the country – and a stay at a historic hacienda will round-off your family holiday very nicely indeed.

When?

Many boats visiting the Galapagos offer ‘family departures’ - trips that have guided adventures and activities designed especially for children. So you can soak up the experience safe in the knowledge that your children are also having a whale of a time. 

For specific Galapagos Island family holiday departures please contact us, and for the best times to visit the Galapagos please visit our page on when to go.

Galapagos Islands Holidays

Everything you need to know about Galapagos Island honeymoons...

Throughout our selection of Galapagos Islands honeymoons you’ll be indulging in your most romantic moments in one of the world’s most unforgettable destinations. 

In short, honeymoon plus Galapagos is a perfect match.

Why?

The notion of slipping away from the pressures of modern life by escaping to idyllic islands is lodged deeply in the human psyche. Throw in a regular supply of quality cocktails and the word ‘paradise’ comes to mind. For most of us, a honeymoon offers a once-in-a-lifetime shot at exactly this experience. The Galapagos Islands undoubtedly deliver on this dream with their 18 spectacular islands marooned in the middle of the Pacific. This alone would recommend it as a fantastic getaway for the newly hitched, but besides the sweeping beaches and subtropical temperament these magical islands also deliver one of nature’s most captivating spectacles: unique animals that have not learned to fear the approach of humans and therefore behave as if no-one is gawping at them from a distance of two feet. 

From giant tortoises to iguanas, sea lions, turtles, whales and a whole cast of quirky birds, the characterful creatures of the Galapagos are the closest an adult can get to wandering into a classic Disney cartoon.

Where?

A seven-day itinerary lazily looping around the islands should provide all of the highlights and the chance to hole up for lounging by the pool, sipping sundowners and some quality time spent spread-eagled on the sand. For the safari cruise, we’d recommend a launch with a more intimate capacity of 12-16 – and one that can provide suites with a private balcony and, if you so wish, a private Jacuzzi too. Those endeavouring to sail on a more stable platform can secure this and all of the privacy they wish on the Athala II or Ocean Spray catamarans. On dry land, the beachside Finch Bay Eco Hotel and Galapagos Safari Camp – both situated on the main island of Santa Cruz with its Tortoise Centre – offer two different ways to immerse yourself in the island idyll. 

Why not top or tail the experience with a trip into the sultry splendour of the Ecuadorian jungle?

When?

January to May offer the warmest weather and the smoothest seas - but the risk of short, heavy showers keeps the prices down. Many companies organising trips to the Galapagos offer family departures. For a honeymoon, of course, these dates are best avoided: children may be the result of romance, but they certainly aren’t the cause. 

For further information on the best time to visit the Galapagos please visit our pages on when to go.

Galapagos Islands Holidays

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