When people think of the Galapagos Islands, they generally associate the region with the famous turtle of the same name. Of course, these fascinating animals are a big drawcard, but they’re just one of the incredible species of marine animal that thrives in these gorgeous Ecuadorian waters.
Located in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Ecuador, this string of islands is home to myriad species you won’t find in such abundance anywhere else on the planet. Whale sharks, Manta rays, seals and even marine iguanas are among them, but for many scuba divers, it’s the scalloped hammerheads, Galapagos sharks and whitetips that really steal the show.
Sailing and diving in the Galapagos Islands
When you set out to explore the underwater offerings of the Galapagos, you generally have two options: live aboard and land-based. The former involves sleeping on a boat for the duration of your expedition, visiting remote islands and lesser-known diving spots. The latter is better for those who are just dipping their toe in the deep end and only need a day trip to satisfy their curiosity.
For a longer jaunt, Galapagos Shark Diving offers a selection of itineraries that explore the best sports of the region while simultaneously supporting conservation and research efforts. You’ll learn all about the ‘Galapagos Whale Shark Project’ through presentations and expert talks with the onboard team, as well as receive photography and videography tips from the professional divers in the crew.
The 8-day Galapagos Dive Adventure is one of the most comprehensive itineraries on offer with up to four dives per day. You’ll even get to visit the remote islands of Darwin and Wolf, renowned as some of the best live spots in the world. The boat itself is spacious and modern with eight en-suite cabins, multiple deck areas to relax on and even a bar onboard.
Best day trips to experience Galapagos wildlife
For a great day trip, check out Albatros Tours, based out of Santa Cruz. They offer multiple half- and full-day trips around the Galapagos. You can snorkel, scuba dive or free dive. You’ll also enjoy a hearty lunch, snacks and drinks included, as well as all the equipment you’ll need from an awesome day in the water.
Once you’ve reached your shark quota, you might want to focus your attention on the 400 species of fish (17% of which can only be found in the Galapagos), the world’s only swimming lizards, or the thriving colonies of seals and sea lions. Minke, Pilot and Blue whales are also in abundance during migration season.
Best restaurants in the Galapagos Islands
Finch Bay Restaurant
Part of the award-winning Finch Bay Hotel in Puerto Ayora, this is considered by many to be one of the best fine dining restaurants in the Galapagos Islands with excellent menu options for seafood-lovers, vegetarians, Ecuadorian, and international dishes.
Want to know where to get the cheapest lobster or the freshest fish? Los Kioskos, local and cheap street seafood, is the place to be. Whether you are looking for a place for dinner or even food after you’ve gone clubbing, Kioskos chefs will cook it right in front of you.
Feel like a drink while getting a steak? Isla Grill is the place and offers everything from vegetarian dishes, seafood, ribs, and burgers. Isla Grill is a popular restaurant on one of Puerto Ayora’s main streets, making it fairly easy to find when walking around hungry.
Best hotels in the Galapagos Islands
Royal Palm Hotel
Located on Santa Cruz Island, the highlands of the Galapagos, the hotel is designed as a haven of peace and quiet. Its landscaped gardens, pool, outdoor spa and fountains — as well as the longest lava tunnel in the islands (which is located on the hotel’s grounds) — form a part of the hotel’s magic and its exclusive surroundings.
One of the few, exclusive rental houses in the Galapagos Islands, this gorgeous beachfront villa offers gorgeous views of Pelican bay, with a pool, bar, jacuzzi and steam bath. A private chef, caretaker and housekeeper will make sure you’re very well looked after.
Golden Bay Hotel & Spa
This beautiful 21-room hotel combines comfort and style with environmental considerations. With spectacular views over the bay of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, the hotel is just a five-minute walk from the town of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno and has direct access to the Playa de Oro beach.
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