Top 10 Activities To Do On The Galapagos Islands
As your boat glides into the remote Galapagos Islands your adventure begins when you spot sleepy Galapagos sea lions and flightless birds awaiting your arrival. One of the most famous wildlife spotting destinations in the world, the Galapagos Islands, located 620 miles off the coast of Ecuador, is home to one of the most unique ecosystems with some of the most unique wildlife in the world.
Not only will you enjoy spotting and recording all of the amazing creatures you see on your Galapagos Cruise, replicating Darwin himself, but you will also get to immerse yourself in the life of the animals on the islands by taking part in the one of the many activities available on the islands. From taking one-of-a-kind hikes up to the green highlands to snorkeling in the tropical waters of the Pacific Ocean, by taking a Galapagos Cruise you get to take part in a number of diverse activities special to this part of the world.
Here are just some of the incredible activities you will be able to enjoy on the Galapagos Islands:
A highlight for many visitors to the Galapagos Islands, snorkeling is the chance to get up-close and personal with the wildlife of the seas. Unlike Scuba Diving you do not need training to snorkel, however, due to the nature of the Pacific Ocean and the currents around the islands as well as the conservation concerns about the reef, you will be briefed thoroughly before the activity. It is recommended that you snorkel with a “buddy” or a group and that you bring an underwater camera for shots of green sea turtles, the world's smallest penguin and some beautiful reef fish! Most creatures on the islands have very little fear of humans as they evolved in relative isolation, but if you come across a sea lion bull do not touch him even if he touches you.
The Galapagos Islands are protected by their national park status and not every part of the park can be explored by visitors. Set trails have been clearly marked for guests hoping to hike around the stunning terrain of the islands. Take a unique lava rock trail where you will see blue-footed boobies, marine iguanas and sea lions, walk to the top of the Sierra Negra, the second largest volcano caldera in the world, and hike across beaches and along mangrove estuaries to get a real idea of the vastly diverse landscape of the Galapagos Islands.
3. Sea Kayaking
Like Snorkeling you do not need to have any previous experience to try your hand at sea kayaking. Paddle along the rugged shoreline of the Galapagos and explore secret coves, mangrove estuaries and stunning beaches. You should see a number of creatures swimming by you as you wade through the Pacific Ocean, including Galapagos penguins and sea lions! Note that you do need to have the correct permission to sea kayak in the Galapagos from the Galapagos National Park so make sure you follow the guidelines before taking to the water.
4. Swimming and Surfing
Be prepared to share the beach with the local residents of the Galapagos, the beach-loving wildlife. From sea lions and sea turtles to eagle rays, the creatures on the islands are mostly happy to share their beautiful white sandy beaches with you, as long as you respect them. If you are a keen surfer then you can also surf on some of the beaches, such as Galapagos Beach, but make sure you check the beach's regulations before you hire or buy a board. Be aware the ground under the water can be a little rocky (so bring water shoes) and the water can be cold!
5. Horseback Riding
To really take a step back in time try your hand at horseback riding on the Galapagos Islands. Most of the horseback riding activities take place on the hillsides of Santa Cruz, a trail that offers spectacular sights of the surrounding scenery and unbelievable wildlife. Be warned that if you are beginner it is best to rent a mixed-blood “Criollo” horse.
6. Mountain Biking
Cycling on the Galapagos Islands is the ultimate cycling adventure. Sign up for intermediate and advanced cycling tours of the islands, and take part in endurance challenges and fun rides through the impressive scenery. Coast from some of the highest points on the island to the bottom while learning about the way of life on the island as well as the native flora and fauna. It's both fun and educational!
7. Scuba Diving
To really go deep into the hidden world of the Galapagos suit up and dive down on a scuba adventure. You can sign up for a scuba diving course (PADI) on the islands in advance, but without previous training you won't be able to make some of the advanced dives available. It is best to train as a scuba diver before you visit the islands to make the most of this unique location. Plenty of divers have seen white-tip sharks, marine iguanas, penguins, golden rays, hammerheads, Galapagos sharks and even whale sharks on their dives! Some of the best spots include Wolf Island and Darwin Island. Please note that you require to be a licensed diver.
8. Panga (Dinghy) Rides
Panga and dinghy vessels serve as the main transportation method from cruise boats to the visiting sites. At several times during a Galapagos travel adventure, you will have the chance to enjoy dinghy or panga rides in shores, coves and caves. This activity is great to photograph Galapagos wildlife on shores.
9. The Charles Darwin Research Station
Close to Puerto Ayora, the Charles Darwin Research Station is worth a visit and is targeted at both adults and children. Learn about the islands' natural history, as well as the important conservation work the Charles Darwin Foundation has helped to put in place. Here you can also discover the famous giant-tortoise breeding programme and meet some baby giant tortoises!
10. Beach Time & Lounging Onboard
Crystal clear blue waters with white sand and friendly sea-lions, is what a typical Galapagos beach looks like. Whether it's sun-bathing, or beach snorkelling, spending some time on a Galapagos beach is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience. You'll also enjoy the lounge hours on the top deck of you Galapagos cruise. Many folks enjoy taking this time to sip on a cocktail while getting to know the other passengers.
Be sure to ask your cruise provider what activities are included on your Galapagos Cruise itinerary. Some activities (ie. horseback riding, mountain biking) are not included on cruises, but can be done if you are spending more time on the islands. Scuba diving is restricted to specific cruises.
Read our safety advice about a trip to the Galapagos Islands and more about taking children to the Galapagos Islands to help make your trip to the Galapagos Islands the adventure of a lifetime. If you would like more information about the kinds of activities we offer, then do not hesitate to contact us.