The Galapagos Islands are a fantastic travel destination with beautiful beaches, unique and fascinating wildlife, and incredible scenery.
The islands offer one of the most unique travel experiences available and reached international attention due to the island’s unique animals and plants.
The best way to make the most of the region is to enjoy an all inclusive Galapagos Islands vacation to include accommodation, tours, meals and transfers.
Choose to base yourself in a hotel with guided tours and island hopping or enjoy a Galapagos Cruise for a more in depth Galapagos experience.
You can reach the Galapagos Islands from Quito, Ecuador’s capital city. From here, you will arrive on one of the two airports serving the islands. These are located on Baltra Island and San Cristobal Island.
Guide to the main Galapagos Islands
The three largest islands of the Galapagos are Santa Cruz, Isabela and San Cristobal. For information on all 19 islands, you can see our complete travel guide to the Galapagos Islands.
Like many islands in the Galapagos archipelago, San Cristóbal Island is home to some incredible animals and plants. Enjoy spotting the sea lions, giant tortoises and fascinating land formations.
Explore the highlands and coastal regions to enjoy different habitats and visit the beautiful Laguna El Junco, which is one of the favorite natural attractions of the island.
Santa Cruz is another main island in the archipelago. Visitors who arrive to the Galapagos at Baltra Island airport will first cross over to Santa Cruz. This is where many visitors will join their Galapagos Islands cruises.
Santa Cruz offers some of the best hotels, restaurants, cafes and souvenir shops on the Galapagos. However, there are also fantastic natural attractions as well.
Santa Cruz is where you find the Charles Darwin Research center where you can learn a little about the islands and have an introduction to the history, geography and nature of the region.
Enjoy walking trails in the highlands to see wild giant tortoises, visit beautiful lagoons, see the famous lava formations and visit the wharf and fish market to spot some regular island visitors enjoying the daily catch.
The largest island in the Galapagos archipelago, Isabela is home to many examples of iconic animals. Enjoy spotting the marine iguanas, giant tortoises, cormorants, sea lions and penguins.
The island has a fantastic geography, as it was created by five volcanoes joining together. The volcanoes are still active and eruptions have been recorded every decade or so. As Isabela is a relatively new island compared to the others, the plants look a little different with thick lowland vegetation. There are also beautiful beaches to enjoy.
For information on the other Galapagos Islands, you can have a look at our complete guide for the Galapagos Islands.
When to Visit the Galapagos Islands
The Galapagos Islands are a fantastic places to visit at all times of year. Because of the tropical climate, there is a pleasant temperature no matter the month. However, there are some differences and times when it’s easier to see certain animals.
Let’s have a look at some of the differences for when to visit.
Most people visit the Galapagos Islands with images of fantastic wildlife in their minds. Most of the animals don’t migrate and remain on the islands at all times of year. However, there are a few marine animals and birds that do migrate, so if you have some specific animals to see in mind it’s best to make sure you’re visiting when they’re around the islands.
The following times are the best months to see popular migrating marine mammals:
- Manta Ray Season: December – May
- Whale Shark Season: June – November
- Hammerheads: December – May
As for the climate, the daily temperature of the Galapagos Islands is about 84°F (30°C) with a nightly temperature of 69°F (20°C).
There are two main seasons, which are produced from the changing ocean currents. The Humboldt Current is when the islands are cooler with less rain, which is between June – November. Warmer weather and more rainfall is then brought by the El Niño Current from December to June, which has a temperature between 80ºF (27ºC) and 90ºF (32ºC)
When to visit the Galapagos Islands • in/°F | mm/°C
Recommended Galapagos Cruises and Hotel Package Tours are:
The Galapagos Habitat Hotel
The Galapagos Habitat Hotel is positioned on the bay of Santa Cruz and offers beautiful views in one of the island’s best places to explore.
Attached to the hotel is the Almar Restaurant by Isla Grill, which is rated as one of the island’s top restaurants and is where you can enjoy delicious breakfasts, lunches and dinners.
The hotel is then positioned in a great area with the top restaurants and attractions nearby. Next to the hotel, you can find the Charles Darwin Research Center for an introduction to the islands and to learn what researchers and conservationists are doing to help restore and protect the island’s wildlife. There are also different galleries, souvenir shops, beaches, beautiful lakes, and Fisherman’s Wharf to enjoy.
The hotel offers a variety of package tours to make the most of the islands, including island hopping experiences and wildlife experiences.
Because of the hotel’s position, you can even enjoy wildlife watching from your accommodation or hotel deck. Marine iguanas and Galapagos sea lions regularly bask on the hotel deck and you can spot the frigate birds and pelicans from the restaurant.
The Ocean Spray Cruise
The Ocean Spray Cruise is a luxury-class vessel for exploring the Galapagos Islands. The Ocean Spray catamaran was specifically designed to maximize comfort and performance. The vessel offers more stability than many other Galapagos cruises and is the perfect option for cruising from island to island.
While aboard the vessel, you will enjoy comfortable suites and spacious social areas, delicious cuisine, and some fantastic views as the approach different islands. There are also kayaks and snorkeling equipment onboard for when we visit the many fascinating marine areas especially rich in wildlife.
The vessel is also equipped with a sundeck with jacuzzi for making the most of your relaxation time between excursions. There is also a private balcony in each suite to keep you connected to the incredible islands.
You will then enjoy guided land excursions for enjoying the beautiful scenery, beaches and the incredible flora and fauna. There are many points of interest to visit and things to see. Each of the Ocean Spray itineraries have been carefully designed to show the best places on the islands and to make the most of your time available.
Choose various itineraries from a 4-day cruise to the 15-day mega cruise to really make the most of the Galapagos Islands.
The Luxury Galapagos & Amazon Combination Tour
Combine two of Ecuador’s top tourism destinations with a luxury experience of the Galapagos Islands aboard a luxury-class catamaran (aboard the Camila, Ocean Spray, or Petrel luxury catamaran) with a visit to the Amazon Rainforest from the award-winning La Selva Lodge & Spa.
This Galapagos and Amazon combination tour includes 3-nights aboard a luxury Galapagos cruise, 3-nights at La Selva Lodge, and 3-nights at a hotel in Quito city.
Enjoy an incredible Galapagos island-hopping experience to enjoy beautiful scenery, stunning beaches, and the iconic wildlife. Led by your knowledgeable guide, find marine iguanas, giant tortoises at the breeding center, Galapagos sea lions, and hundreds of Galapagos birds.
In the Amazon Rainforest, enjoy expertly guided tours to find colorful parrots, toucans, many different monkeys, sloths, and many other incredible sights of Amazonia
La Selva Lodge is Rainforest Alliance certified, offers delicious cuisine, a spa for a relaxing massage, and a tall canopy tower for breathtaking views. You can also enjoy a visit to the colorful Yasuni Clay Lick to see many colorful parrots.
The Amazon Galapagos Combo TourQuito, Ecuador
Currently, TourTheTropics.com cannot help you book this experience. However, you can visit the tour operator's website for more information.
The Iguana Crossing Hotel
Positioned on the beach of Isabela Island, the Iguana Crossing Hotel provides comfortable accommodation and beautiful Galapagos views.
Choose from the 3-day, 4-day or 5-day Galapagos package tours, which include the island’s nearby attractions.
Explore the nearby islets of Las Tintoreras to see different animals, including the iconic marine iguanas, sea lions, marine turtles, manta rays and Galapagos penguins.
You will also explore the island to see the impressive lava tunnels, the Sierra Negra Volcano, and have a relaxed bike ride to visit beaches, mangroves and different lagoons. This is also a great way to see different birds, marine iguanas and even giant tortoises.
At the hotel itself, enjoy the comfortable hotel lounge, bar, and have a refreshing dip in the pool.
The Galaxy Yacht Cruise
The Galaxy Yacht Cruise provides a first-class island hopping experience of the Galapagos.
There are nine cabins aboard the Galaxy Yacht with four on the upper deck, three on the main deck and two on the lower deck. When back aboard the vessel from your excursions, you can also relax in the lounge, bar, sundeck and the dining room.
Enjoy varied and delicious meals in the dining room, which include dishes from the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador’s mainland and some international favorites.
You will then enjoy guided tours of the islands and different activities. Head out with highly trained guides to enjoy iconic wildlife on walking trails, kayaking tours, and snorkeling experiences.
The Eco Galaxy Cruise
The Eco Galaxy Cruise offers a comfortable first-class vessel to explore the Galapagos Islands.
Aboard the Eco Galaxy, you can find a total of eight cabins. Four of these are on the upper deck and four are on the main deck. Your cabin offer a comfortable twin or double bed, private bathroom, hot water, air conditioning and both telephone and internet services.
The vessel also offers different social areas to relax when not out on excursions. The sundeck is a great place to enjoy fantastic views or the night sky. You can relax in the lounge area with a cocktail or book and enjoy delicious meals in the dining room.
The Eco Galaxy Cruise itineraries include some fantastic activities, such as guided wildlife watching to find famous Galapagos flora and fauna, kayaking trips, snorkeling and photography. Your guide will teach you a little about the history of the Galapagos when out exploring.
The Nemo III Galapagos Cruise
The Nemo III Galapagos Cruise offers a different experience than the above cruises. The Nemo III is a motor-sail catamaran and accommodates 15 passengers for a tour of the northern or southern islands.
There are two 8-day itineraries to choose from for each island ground, which focus on the best areas for seeing iconic wildlife and famous Galapagos scenery and landmarks. You can also join the cruise for only 4 or 5-days if you have limited time available. Enjoy spotting the famous marine iguanas, blue-footed boobies, pelicans, sea lions, sea turtles and more.
The Nemo III is equipped with a choice of twin or double cabins. These all provide private bathrooms with hot water.
When not relaxing in your suite, social areas or enjoying excursions, you will then enjoy delicious cuisine in the dining room. The vessel offers a sundeck and jacuzzi.
The Nemo II Galapagos Cruise
The Nemo II provides a smaller cruise vessel than the Nemo III above. The Nemo II is a motor-sail catamaran offering a balance of comfort and adventure for island hopping on the Galapagos.
Your accommodation includes a private bathroom and you can choose either double or twin cabins. The vessel also offers social areas and a dining room where you will enjoy freshly prepared meals with regional influences.
On your itinerary, visit some of the top wildlife areas with certified Galapagos guides for island exploring where you can spot sea lions, marine iguanas, blue footed boobies, giant tortoises and much more.
There is also snorkeling equipment onboard for exploring some of the wildlife-rich marine sites. Enjoy seeing colorful fish, sharks, rays and sea turtles.
Inclusive Galapagos Islands Vacations – Summary
The Amazon Galapagos Combo TourQuito, Ecuador
Currently, TourTheTropics.com cannot help you book this experience. However, you can visit the tour operator's website for more information.About the Author: Ash Card is a frequent visitor to the Tropics and has a passion for helping visitors get the best experiences from tropical locations. Ash is a contributor to both TourTheTropics.com and ThinkJungle.com writing about tropical destinations, rainforests and wildlife. Feel free to contact Ash for tour help in the tropics. When not helping tourists with tours and info, Ash can be found salsa-ing the night away or posing near waterfalls.