The Galapagos Islands are a seasoned traveler’s dream — a bucket-list trip that permits you to observe unique animals and crops and expertise Ecuador’s hospitality.

Out of your pre-cruise keep in Quito to optionally available post-cruise visits to a close-by cloud forest, you will marvel on the number of species, meals and climates you will encounter in only a week or two on a Galapagos cruise.

As a result of the islands are largely a preserved nationwide park, the Ecuadorian authorities limits the variety of guests. That interprets to an unspoiled setting that is a far cry from touristy.

Most individuals who go to aren’t novice vacationers. Nonetheless, they’re possible first-timers to this distant vacation spot. If a Galapagos cruise is new territory for you, this planning information will present the overview it’s worthwhile to put together on your foray into one of many world’s most untouched, undeveloped areas.

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Why cruise to the Galapagos?

A view from the seashore at Dragon Hill on Santa Cruz Island within the Galapagos. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

The Galapagos Islands are distant and largely undeveloped, in order that they’re excellent for vacationers preferring locations which might be harder to get to or ones that are not overcrowded with vacationers.

Moreover, the islands are house to many crops and animals which you can’t discover wherever else, providing a once-in-a-lifetime probability to see them up shut.

A Galapagos cruise also can supply a hassle-free option to tour the islands in comparison with a land-based journey. The cruise reserving could cowl many journey logistics, together with pre- and post-cruise lodge stays, land-based journey extensions and meals.

Moreover, while you cruise, you do not have to fret about transportation from island to island, hiring a information (official Galapagos Nationwide Park guides are required to accompany all vacationers on the islands) or the place you will spend every evening. Many of the islands are uninhabited, in spite of everything, which implies there aren’t any human-made buildings — together with accommodations.

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Nonetheless, be warned: A cruise to the Galapagos is not notably enjoyable. Anticipate at the very least two excursions per day with little downtime. The brilliant facet is with another person dealing with all the planning and execution, you will have the time to actually take pleasure in and take in all you are certain to see.

When do cruises go to the Galapagos?

Hurtigruten’s Santa Cruz II by way of the timber on Santa Cruz Island within the Galapagos. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

Cruises to the Galapagos function year-round, which implies there isn’t any common “greatest” time to go to. One of the best time for you and your journey companions to go will rely in your priorities and preferences.

In the course of the scorching, wet season, which runs from December to June, the climate is hotter and cloudier, however the snorkeling and diving circumstances are additionally higher. It is a really perfect time for anybody who would not thoughts warmth however would possibly desire a bit extra safety from the solar, notably in the event that they take pleasure in underwater sports activities.

On the flip facet, the dry, cool season — July to November — gives extra blue skies but in addition colder water temperatures. Though you possibly can spot wildlife within the Galapagos all yr, this season tends to draw extra fish, mammals and birds due to the vitamins and plankton that grow to be out there as water temperatures cool.

If you would like to time your journey to see sure animals or animal behaviors, under are some timeframes to remember.

January — March

Flamingos wade in brackish water as they feed close to Baroness Tower on Floreana Island within the Galapagos. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

Within the early a part of the yr, sea turtles lay their eggs ashore, and big tortoise eggs proceed to hatch. Many kinds of birds — together with flamingos, Galapagos doves, mockingbirds, finches and Nazca boobies — start their mating and nesting rituals, as do land and marine iguanas.

By March, frigate birds put together to mate as they puff out their bright-red throats, and Galapagos hawk chicks hatch.

April — June

Within the second quarter of the yr, sea turtle, land iguana and marine iguana eggs hatch, and the mating seasons for blue-footed boobies, albatrosses and Galapagos sea lions start.

Whales additionally begin shifting by way of the world as they migrate to the equator. By midyear, whale, dolphin and whale shark sightings grow to be extra widespread.

July — September

Galapagos penguins on a rock close to Isabela Island’s Punta Vicente Roca within the Galapagos. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

Frigate hen eggs begin hatching, and flamingos and flightless cormorants provoke the mating course of throughout this time of the yr.

When August rolls round, Galapagos hawks — the islands’ rarest birds — start the courtship course of. In September, Galapagos penguins start a months-long mating ritual.

October — December

Within the ultimate stretch of every yr, big tortoise eggs begin hatching, and sea lion pups start to mature. Younger albatrosses start to develop their wings.

Finest Galapagos cruise ships

A shot from an out of doors deck on Hurtigruten Expeditions’ Santa Cruz II within the Galapagos. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

Because of authorities restrictions, it is not straightforward for cruise strains to interrupt into the Galapagos market. A couple of well-known manufacturers have carried out it, together with Avalon Waterways, Celeb Cruises, Hurtigruten Expeditions and Silversea Cruises. Nonetheless, they do not at all times personal the vessels they function.

Within the case of Celeb and Silversea, the strains constructed their ships particularly for the vacation spot. Nonetheless, Avalon, Hurtigruten, Nationwide Geographic and Abercrombie & Kent constitution ships which might be owned by different firms which might be already established within the area.

Due to that, it’s normal for multiple journey firm or cruise model to promote sailings on the identical ship. In case you’re confused about which ship to guide or tips on how to guide it if it is supplied by a number of firms, go straight by way of your favourite cruise line or contact your journey agent.

In case you’re used to mainstream cruising, Galapagos vessels will not be what you are accustomed to. Every has one small restaurant for meals, at the very least one bar and lounge that usually doubles as a lecture or briefing room, restricted self-service laundry services, scorching tubs, outside seating, a visitor providers desk and perhaps a small retailer for sundries.

There’s additionally prone to be a water sports activities platform and tools storage space with outside showers or hoses for rinsing off sneakers and toes while you return from landings ashore.

The water sports activities and panga launch space on Santa Cruz II. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

What you possible will not discover on board are theaters, casinos, massive health facilities, organized train courses and spa services. Your vessel may need an open-bridge coverage, although; test it out to see for those who can catch a peek inside.

Do not be shocked for those who do not obtain a room key. On many expedition sailings, passengers aren’t issued keycards as a result of the road would not need vacationers taking their playing cards ashore and probably shedding them there. Nearly all the pieces is included within the fares, so there isn’t any have to cost something with a card. Cruisers go away their cabin doorways unlocked after they aren’t of their rooms, which some folks discover uncomfortable. (Don’t be concerned. Your stateroom may have a protected for small valuables.)

Galapagos-based ships are required to rent regionally, so a lot of the crew on ships within the space are Ecuadorian. That lends itself to a extra immersive expertise, each on board and ashore. Meals is usually conventional and sourced as regionally as doable, and crew members fortunately reply questions in regards to the tradition and customs in Ecuador.

In the end, if you would like an expertise that is nearer to what you’d discover on a mainstream cruise or for those who’re set on a extra upscale vibe on a more moderen vessel, go along with Celeb or Silversea. In case you’d desire a small group and are not overly involved together with your onboard environment, you will wish to keep away from Silver Origin and Celeb Flora, each of that are bigger vessels.

Under is a extra intensive breakdown of the ships you possibly can sail below every firm within the Galapagos.

Abercrombie & Kent

Abercrombie & Kent’s La Pinta cruise ship. METROPOLITAN TOURING

With extra crew than passengers, service on Abercombie & Kent voyages is top-notch. The Galapagos isn’t any exception.

The road charters all of its vessels, which implies it would not personal the ships. While you sail with A&Ok, you will be on one in every of 4 ships, relying on the particular itinerary you select.

La Pinta is a 48-passenger vessel owned by Metropolitan Touring. Refurbished in 2019, it gives trendy touches with out an excessive amount of extra.

Three different ships — Origin, Concept and Evolve — are luxurious expedition yachts rented from Ecoventura, a part of the Relais & Chateaux household of luxurious manufacturers. Every carries simply 20 passengers in an opulent, high-end ambiance that contrasts superbly with the Galapagos’ rugged terrain.

Aqua Expeditions

Aqua Mare joined the Aqua Expeditions fleet in 2021 and underwent a complete overhaul to carry it as much as the requirements of the posh line, which operates 4 different yacht-style ships.

The vessel plies the waters of the Galapagos, providing area for as much as 16 passengers throughout seven cabins. Highlights embrace marble loos, sustainably sourced meals and a 1-to-1 crew-to-passenger ratio.

Avalon Waterways

Avalon Waterways’ Delfin III. DELFIN AMAZON CRUISES

If you wish to sail with Avalon Waterways, recognized primarily for its European river cruises, you will end up on board one in every of two vessels chartered by the road within the Galapagos.

Treasure of Galapagos is a yacht-style motor catamaran that carries as much as 16 vacationers. What’s fascinating in regards to the ship is that it is also marketed and bought by different operators, together with Galapatours, Audley Journey, Rainforest Cruises and Vaya Adventures.

Avalon’s different constitution, Delfin Amazon Cruises’ luxurious Delfin III, can maintain as much as 44 cruisers. Voyages on this vessel take passengers for a sail on the Peruvian Amazon along with making stops within the Galapagos. In contrast to most different Galapagos expedition vessels, the ship boasts a spa and a solar deck with a plunge pool.

Celeb Cruises

Celeb Cruises’ Celeb Flora within the Galapagos. CELEBRITY CRUISES

The most recent ship crusing expedition cruises for Celeb, 100-passenger Celeb Flora can be the one ship in Celeb’s fleet constructed particularly to sail the Galapagos.

The ship has a nature-focused theme and options impartial colours and wood accents. In contrast to different bare-bones vessels that sail the area, Celeb Flora gives trendy, soft touches, together with a small health heart, a therapeutic massage room, cabins outfitted with TVs, water fountains and refillable bottles, complimentary mini-bar setups and spacious loos.

Additionally crusing to the Galapagos for Celeb are 48-passenger Celeb Xpedition and 16-passenger Celeb Xploration. A lot smaller than Flora, they do not supply the identical high-tech facilities like quick Wi-Fi and touch-screen in-cabin temperature controls. Nonetheless, that is usually simply superb for adventurous vacationers who know the main target is on the vacation spot and never the ship.

G Adventures

G Adventures runs a number of ships within the Galapagos; your chosen itinerary will decide which ship you sail. Yolita, which has room for 16 folks plus crew, options eight cabins, every with a queen mattress or side-by-side twin beds.

Sixteen-passenger Eden can be outfitted with eight cabins, seven of which sleep two folks in twin-bed configurations and one in every of which gives a queen mattress.

Reina Sylvia Voyager additionally carries as much as 16 cruisers throughout 10 cabins, together with two for solo vacationers. Solely two of the rooms lack balconies, which implies most lodging supply contemporary air. One good contact is that the ship additionally has a devoted barbecue space.

Hurtigruten Expeditions

Hurtigruten Expeditions’ Santa Cruz II. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

Metropolitan Touring’s 90-passenger Santa Cruz II is operated within the Galapagos by Hurtigruten Expeditions, which owns 25% of Metropolitan Touring.

The vessel is shiny and trendy however with solely probably the most fundamental in-cabin comforts. (There aren’t any TVs or bathtubs — showers solely.) Though all cabins are outsides (no balconies), the ship does have a small health heart, two lounges, a small choice of books and a sport and film room.

Lindblad Expeditions

Lindblad Expeditions, which has partnered with the Nationwide Geographic model for a number of years, operates two vessels within the Galapagos. The primary, Nationwide Geographic Endeavour II, has room for as much as 96 passengers throughout 52 exterior cabins, some connecting to accommodate teams.

Billed as a cross between a luxurious lodge and a scientific analysis heart, it gives underwater cameras and video microscopes that present further wildlife-viewing alternatives.

A second vessel, Nationwide Geographic Islander II, started crusing for Lindblad in 2022 and accommodates 48 passengers in 26 staterooms. It options mild, shiny and trendy decor with marble double-sink loos with rain showers. It additionally gives a heated marina, indoor and outside eating and a 1-to-1 crew-to-passenger ratio.

Quasar Expeditions

The smaller of Quasar Expeditions’ two ships is Grace, a 16-passenger vessel with an fascinating previous. Aristotle Onassis offered it to actress Grace Kelly as a marriage present in 1956 when she married Prince Rainier III — therefore, its present identify. Since Quasar adopted it into the fleet, it has been modernized with touches which have helped it age gracefully.

Evolution carries 32 folks plus crew. In-built 2005, it is not as outdated as Grace, nevertheless it nonetheless options an artwork deco model that creates a nostalgic however luxurious ambiance. Facilities embrace a promenade deck that runs fully across the vessel and a big Jacuzzi tub.

Silversea Cruises

Silversea’s Silver Origin. SILVERSEA CRUISES

Silversea initially bought a 30-year-old vessel, Silver Galapagos, to function its voyages within the area. Nonetheless, when expedition cruises started to soar in recognition, the ultra-luxury line bought the ship and constructed one particularly designed for the Galapagos.

With a capability for as much as 100 passengers, Silver Origin, which debuted in 2021, is arguably probably the most luxurious vessel crusing within the area. Its record of unusual facilities — butler service, a health heart, salon and spa — would possibly simply make you neglect you are not on a bigger ship.

Attending to the Galapagos

Making your option to the Galapagos generally is a little bit of a trick. Your first objective will likely be to succeed in both Guayaquil or Quito, the capital of Ecuador, each of which function jumping-off factors to Baltra or San Cristobal, the place you will board your ship.

For North American vacationers, the journey would require a minimal of two flights — one to Quito or Guayaquil and one other to Baltra or San Cristobal, relying on the place your crusing departs. Nonetheless, for those who’re unable to discover a direct flight out of your hometown to Quito or Guayaquil, it is doable a 3rd (and even fourth) flight may very well be obligatory.

Plan an additional day or two of journey on both facet of your cruise to account for any flight connections.

Finest Galapagos itineraries

Hurtigruten Expeditions’ Santa Cruz II cruise ship off the coast of the Galapagos Islands. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

The Galapagos — which contains about 100 small islets and 19 bigger islands, solely 4 of that are inhabited — might be troublesome to interrupt into areas, notably since itineraries range by cruise line.

Not all strains supply visits to all the islands, and there might be some overlap, with islands displaying up on itineraries in multiple area.

For instance, Galapagos sailings start and finish on both Baltra Island or, much less steadily, San Cristobal, the place you will land after flying in from mainland Ecuador and earlier than boarding your ship. Centrally positioned Santa Cruz Island, which is inhabited, tends to point out up on a number of itineraries, as does Isabela Island, which is the most important within the group.

Basically, cruise strains will break the islands into north, south, east and west loops. Nonetheless, some strains supply internal, outer and central loops. Others characteristic a mixture. One of the simplest ways to decide on between them is to resolve which islands you’d most like to go to.

Normally, crusing round every area takes at the very least per week. Exceptions like Hurtigruten’s four-day western providing enable passengers to finish the complete journey in seven days, from after they first go away house to after they return. For anybody wishing to make their journey last more, cruise strains will enable passengers to sail back-to-back voyages that string completely different itineraries collectively.

Many sailings additionally supply pre- and post-cruise lodge stays, normally in Quito however generally in Lima, Peru, with a Machu Picchu add-on. Some additionally supply the prospect to tack on a pre- or post-cruise go to to the Choco Cloud Forest, about 3.5 hours from the middle of Quito.

A view from contained in the Choco Cloud Forest close to Quito, Ecuador. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

Be aware: To go to the Galapagos, you’ll possible must fill out a number of varieties, together with a formulario del viajaro (traveler’s type) and probably a well being declaration type.

Moreover, the nation requires a tarjeta de management de transito (transit management card) for every passenger, together with an entrance price. Most cruise strains will deal with these final two for you. (Preserve the transit management card with you; you will want it to enter and go away the Galapagos.)

Here is a tough breakdown of which islands you would possibly go to in every area. It is also doable you can go to the identical island greater than as soon as on a crusing. Once more, observe that particular itineraries will range by cruise line and are topic to vary.

North loop

On a northern loop Galapagos cruise, you would possibly go to Baltra Island, Santiago Island, Bartolome Island, Isabela Island, Fernandina Island, Santa Cruz Island and Genovesa Island.

South loop

The southern loop sometimes consists of Baltra Island, North Seymour, South Plaza, Santa Fe, San Cristobal Island, Floreana Island, Santa Cruz Island and Espanola Island.

A life ring hangs on Santa Cruz II’s deck with the Galapagos Islands within the background. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

East loop

On jap loop itineraries, you possibly can anticipate stops at Baltra Island, Mosquera Islet, San Cristobal, Santa Fe Island, South Plaza Island, Santa Cruz Island, Espanola Island or North Seymour.

West loop

Throughout a cruise alongside the western loop, you would possibly name on the islands of Baltra, Santa Cruz, Isabela, Fernandina and Floreana.

Internal loop

On internal loop voyages, you would possibly try Baltra Island, Daphne Island, Santiago Island, Rabida Island, Isabela Island, Bartolome Island, Santa Cruz, North Seymour Island and San Cristobal.

Outer loop

As a part of an outer loop cruise, you would possibly make calls on Baltra, Daphne, Espanola, Floreana, Isabela, Fernandina, South Plaza and Santa Cruz Islands, in addition to Champion Islet.

Central loop

In case you go for the central loop, you would possibly end up on the islands of Baltra, Rabida, Santa Cruz, Santa Fe, Espanola, San Cristobal, Lobos and Bartolome.

Issues to do within the Galapagos

In Quito

A nighttime view of Quito’s Previous City. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

Whether or not you do your pre- and post-cruise planning by yourself or by way of your cruise line, you are nearly assured to finish up in Quito in some unspecified time in the future.

There are tons of issues to do, however a number of the don’t-miss actions embrace a journey on the TeleferiQo cable automotive for a view of the town; a visit to the Mercado Central for contemporary fruit and empanadas; stops at two well-known church buildings, Basilica del Voto Nacional and Iglesia y Convento de San Francisco; and visits to chocolatiers, statue restorers, hat- and mask-makers and natural healers for some native taste.

On the islands

An inflatable boat takes passengers for a scenic cruise round one of many Galapagos Islands. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

As a result of the islands of the Galapagos are largely uninhabited and undeveloped, actions are largely restricted to what nature gives.

They embrace scenic panga (inflatable boat) rides to view wildlife; moist landings from panga to shore that may will let you hike or laze on the seashore; snorkeling; glass-bottom boat rides; paddleboarding; swimming and nightly recaps again on board. Typically crew members additionally give talks about matters related to the crusing.

Throughout calls on inhabited islands, you may also try the world’s weirdest, smallest put up workplace; go to child big tortoises or have lunch ashore earlier than biking to a espresso plantation the place the proprietor will train you tips on how to make moonshine from sugarcane.

Within the cloud forest

Hikes make up a big a part of the each day actions at Mashpi Lodge within the Choco Cloud Forest. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

Earlier than or after your cruise, do you have to select to go to the Choco Cloud Forest, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, you are prone to keep on the Mashpi Lodge, an eco-friendly resort within the cover. There, you will be assigned a devoted information who will enable you plan your each day actions based mostly in your pursuits and desired exertion stage.

Choices embrace mountaineering, swimming in waterfalls, evening walks to identify critters that solely emerge after darkish, rides on the property’s sky bike and Dragonfly gondola rides, instructional lectures, massages, and visits to the on-site life heart (the place you possibly can watch tayras steal bananas and go to a butterfly backyard) or science lab (the place workers biologists will inform you in regards to the new species they’ve found).

Peru add-ons

The ruins of Machu Picchu in Peru. GO GA/GETTY IMAGES

A number of cruise strains characteristic Peru add-ons as a part of their longer itinerary packages. Lima is usually marketed, however I’ve additionally seen Cuzco as an possibility, notably for vacationers wishing to go to the apparent spotlight: Machu Picchu.

Should-see sights in Lima would possibly embrace visits to the Huaca Pucllana pyramid; the El Parque del Amor monument, which gives beautiful sea views; the native fish market within the Chorrillos district; Plaza de Armas, the place you possibly can see the federal government palace and metropolis corridor; and the catacombs at Museo Convento San Francisco.

Finest Galapagos cruise ports


The “put up workplace” barrel at Submit Workplace Bay on Floreana Island within the Galapagos. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

Floreana Island, one of the southerly islands within the Galapagos cluster, has two widespread stops, and so they’re each notable — however for very completely different causes.

Punta Cormorant gives a straightforward path that results in a stunningly serene seashore, the place you are prone to see sea turtles bobbing within the water close by. Swimming is not allowed, however the peacefulness that may wash over you is definitely worth the brief trek. Alongside the way in which, you possibly can climb a fast set of stairs for nice views over the island.

On the alternative facet of the island is Submit Workplace Bay, named for what is likely to be the world’s smallest put up workplace. It is positively one of many quirkiest. A small door in an outdated barrel offers option to a pile of postcards stuffed right into a Ziploc bag. The thought is that new guests go away postcards hoping that somebody after them will ship them. Then, they take outdated ones addressed to individuals who stay close to them and, after they return house, make each effort to hand-deliver them to the recipients.


The island of Rabida is an aesthetic standout, due to its pristine red-sand seashores. Nonetheless, that is not its whole declare to fame.

Rabida can be the place you will discover a distinctive menagerie of birds, together with pelicans, mockingbirds, doves, flamingos, white-cheeked pintail geese, yellow warblers and Darwin finches. In case you’re a birder desirous to test a ton of species off your record, it is a cease you will not wish to miss.

Santa Cruz

A large tortoise offers the digital camera some side-eye on Santa Cruz Island within the Galapagos. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

Santa Cruz, one of many Galapagos’ 4 inhabited islands, is linked by a bridge to Baltra Island, the place most cruise passengers arrive earlier than boarding their vessels. Santa Cruz is among the commonest stops on Galapagos cruise itineraries. It is also the place many non-cruise vacationers keep after they go to.

The island’s Puerto Ayora is the place you will discover the Charles Darwin Analysis Station, house to a middle that protects, hatches and research big tortoises. It additionally research flora and invasive species within the space.

One other fashionable cease on many excursions is Rancho El Manzanillo, a reserve towards the western facet of the island the place you will discover teams of big tortoises. (Do you know a gaggle of tortoises known as a “creep?”)

Following lunch, you will don a pair of borrowed rubber boots for a guided stroll alongside the grounds. Be careful: There are such a lot of big tortoises that you just danger tripping over them — or their equally big excrement. Don’t be concerned, they will withdraw into their shells for those who get too shut, making a hissing sound that ought to offer you a heads-up.

For a extra energetic daytime pursuit, you possibly can bike 4 miles exterior Puerto Ayora to El Trapiche, a plantation that grows espresso and sugarcane. The proprietor will present you the way he makes moonshine from the latter.

San Cristobal

San Cristobal Island, one other of the Galapagos’ inhabited islands, is house to a second airport that cruise passengers generally use to succeed in their ships.

The island is the place for vacationers to identify frigatebirds and red-footed boobies, in addition to big tortoises (helpful for those who missed out on Santa Cruz Island).

The Cerro Colorado Tortoise Breeding Middle, on the south a part of the island, focuses on mitigating threats to the islands’ big tortoise inhabitants. It is one other location the place big tortoises are bred in captivity and launched right into a monitored pure habitat to be protected and studied.


A pair of blue-footed boobies within the Galapagos. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

Isabela Island is the most important island within the Galapagos. One in all its highlights is Punta Vicente Roca, on the island’s northwestern tip. It is house to many animals, together with flightless cormorants, Galapagos penguins, sea turtles, marine iguanas and fish in a rainbow of colours.

One other landmark of a go to to Isabela Island is a cave-like rock formation. You may’t go inside, which provides a slight thriller to the place, however you possibly can observe playful sea lions as they swim round your boat and take within the cacophony of blue-footed boobies as they roost on the rock above.


A name on Genovesa Island, one of many northernmost within the Galapagos group, includes a distinctive mountaineering alternative within the type of Prince Philip’s Steps (additionally referred to as El Barranco).

The steps are basically a pure rock formation. Though wood handrails have been added for security, the climb is steep and the trail slim; individuals needs to be in first rate form to make it to the highest for sweeping views and potential sightings of Nazca boobies, red-footed boobies, red-throated frigatebirds and endemic lava gulls.

This space can be nice for snorkeling, providing an opportunity to view unicorn fish, parrotfish, angelfish, butterflyfish, surgeonfish and hogfish. In case you go to throughout the precise season, you would possibly come face-to-face with hammerhead sharks or manta rays.


A marine iguana seems to smile because it sits on a rock at Punta Espinoza on Fernandina Island within the Galapagos. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

Identified for its favorable snorkeling alternatives, Punta Espinoza on Fernandina Island gives plentiful possibilities to rise up shut and private with underwater life. Onshore, you possibly can spot sea lions, marine iguanas and superbly coloured Sally Lightfoot crabs.

A brief and pretty flat hike will take you over lava rocks to seashores the place sea lions laze, play and mate, barking as they make their presence recognized.

Concurrently, hear for the spitting of marine iguanas. Gross because it appears, the sound is sort of a collection of lovely little sneezes as they purge, by way of their nostrils, the salt they by accident ingested throughout underwater feeding.


Arguably one of the iconic views within the Galapagos is the one from the Pinnacle Rock volcanic formation on Bartolome Island, one of many smallest of the principle islands.

Ideally suited for hikers, the stroll to the highest takes a couple of half hour, at which level you will be rewarded with vistas of close by Daphne Minor, Daphne Main and Santiago Islands.

Animal sightings on Bartolome would possibly embrace Galapagos penguins, herons and elusive Galapagos hawks. Do you have to select to snorkel on the close by seashore, you are prone to see sharks, rays, sea lions and red-lipped batfish.

When to guide a Galapagos cruise

A serene seashore view in Punta Cormorant on Floreana within the Galapagos Islands. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

As a result of Galapagos cruises function all yr, there is not a shoulder season, so fares stay regular year-round. Nonetheless, you could find instances to snag offers.

Preserve a watch out for gross sales round Black Friday and Cyber Monday, in addition to wave season — the interval throughout the first three months of every yr when cruise strains supply deep reductions, added perks or a mixture of the 2.

Additionally, test together with your journey agent to see if they will give you something further — like a land-based add-on or further onboard credit score — for those who’re contemplating reserving.

Due to the size and value of most Galapagos sailings, you will possible wish to plan at the very least six months prematurely, if not additional.

After I priced out a number of sailings over the following 18 months, I observed that fares throughout the subsequent two months are literally increased than these for voyages six months out. In different phrases, reserving on the final minute is unlikely to get you a deal.

What to pack for a Galapagos cruise

Mountain climbing boots are important journey gear for the Galapagos. JASON TODD/GETTY IMAGES

As a result of the Galapagos Islands are close to the equator, the solar is especially intense. Pack protecting clothes like long-sleeved (however light-weight) solar shirts, mountaineering pants that zip off into shorts, hats (ideally with neck safety), sun shades and sunscreen with a excessive SPF.

Past that, quick-drying clothes constituted of artificial materials is greatest. You will additionally want comfy sneakers, together with mountaineering boots and water sneakers that may get moist. (I like to recommend Eager-style sandals, water socks or Crocs.) Carry further socks; merino wool works effectively to manage temperature and maintain you comfy.

When it comes to equipment, you will need binoculars, a day pack (waterproof, if doable) that you need to use ashore and a water bottle in case your cruise line would not present one. Toss some seasickness cures into your bag and obtain some motion pictures or TV exhibits onto your smartphone or pill in case your cabin would not have a TV.

Within the Galapagos, what to not carry is simply as vital. Most ships within the area aren’t fancy. Though folks do change for dinner, you possible will not want dressy garments.

Additionally, maintain any contemporary vegetables and fruit at house, together with unfastened nuts and seeds. The native authorities is extraordinarily cautious about stopping guests from introducing something international that would hurt the islands’ delicate ecosystems.

Your baggage will likely be screened fastidiously while you arrive, and you can face steep penalties for those who’re caught with contraband.

Backside line

A Sally Lightfoot crab scuttles throughout a rock at Fernandina Island’s Punta Espinoza within the Galapagos. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

The Galapagos is a area in contrast to wherever else on Earth, which implies a visit there is filled with nuance.

As a result of sailings can value upwards of $10,000 per particular person and final two weeks or extra, you will wish to know what to anticipate forward of time, so you may get probably the most out of such a sizeable funding in each time and funds.

From selecting a ship and itinerary to figuring out what to place in your suitcase, you’ve got a lot to contemplate when planning a Galapagos cruise.

In case you take your time and enlist the assistance of a seasoned journey agent, it is best to be capable of get rid of lots of the regular snags and deal with having fun with your time on a number of the world’s most untouched islands.

Planning a cruise? Begin with these tales: