Adventure Vacation to the Galapagos Islands
For many, the Galapagos Islands are a destination that define the allure and fascination of travel and for us that absolutely proved to be true. From the warm and inviting people of Ecuador to the diverse and fiercely protected eco-systems of the islands, a vacation to the Galapagos Islands helped us develop a deeper understanding and appreciation for our world's environment and the importance of protecting it. Not only were we surrounded by natural beauty at every turn but having a chance to go off-grid for seven-days, allowed us with a family (with two teens) to reconnect and be present. When you are in Ecuador, you are removed from all the hustle of life and transported to a destination that you will never forget.
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Where to stay
Galapagos Habitat by Eco Luxury Group
Located in a protected mangrove, this waterfront resort provides guests a uniquely balanced experience that is educational and sustainable, yet stylish.
Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel
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Day 1: Hiking and Snorkeling on Santa Cruz Island
Our vacation to the Galapagos Islands started by arriving on Baltra Island and being transported to Santa Cruz. You are greeted by your guide and they will help you through the transportation process. There are many steps to reach your final destination, including a shuttle bus, small ferry and a 45 min bus ride to the southern tip of Santa Cruz. Upon arriving in Santa Cruz, we were greeted by our boat crew, brought on board for lunch, settled into our rooms and then shuttled via zodiac back to Santa Cruz to explore the Darwin Center of Tortoises and the village of Santa Cruz. At night we returned to our boat and had our first of many delicious meals and then set sail for our first destination. We would spend the next seven days aboard the Treasure of Galapagos Yacht.
That evening we sailed a bit north so the next day we could explore Eden Inlet and Dragon Hill on Santa Cruz Island. This began our daily adventures of snorkeling and hiking around the islands, the perfect way to immerse ourselves in the incredibly unique environments of the Galapagos Islands.
Day 2: Exploring Isabela Island
Day two we ventured to Isabela Island. We made a visit to Tintoreras then a bus ride to the Sierra Nega Volcano where we hiked to the rim. After lunch and a siesta, we went back to Isabela Island where we walked through a Mangrove Forest, searched for more land tortoises and spent some free time in the small town.
Isabela Island is one of the few islands to be inhabited, so here you can connect to wifi and wander the local streets for a snack, cold drink or some shopping. Isabela is very safe and walkable. I highly recommend walking along the beach for beautiful views or to watch the locals play beach volleyball.
Day 3: Moreno Point, Snorkeling & Sailing to Urbina Bay
A vacation to the Galapagos Islands isn't complete without a visit to Isabela, which is the biggest island in the archipelago. We walked the lava fields of Moreno Point then took a dinghy ride along the coast. After lunch we went deep-water snorkeling and then sailed to Urbina Bay. Once arriving at Urbina Bay, we hiked the island and then had an optional snorkeling excursion off the beaches of Urbina Bay. Along our hike, our guide shared many facts and stories about Isabela Island. Every where we turned we saw natural wildlife like iguanas, sea lions, red crabs and more.
Despite the fact that you are traveling via yacht and the service is luxury level in every way, it is important to remember to dress appropriately for the daily adventures. Sturdy sneakers and/or water shoes are necessary for the hiking excursions and I suggest packing multiple bathing suits since you will snorkel every day. They need to air-dry and in the humid air, that takes time. The boats will provide all your snorkel gear if you prefer not to bring your own. Wear comfortable clothes, pack layers and sunscreen (but be sure it's environmentally-safe sunscreen!)
Day 4: Fernandina Island & Darwin's Lake
Next stop: Fernandina Island. The day started off with an option sunrise snorkel experience. After breakfast, we were headed to the island to hike when the crew spotted Orca whales. We took a quick detour to watch them swim around. After that, we hiked Fernandina (Punta Espinoza). During lunch we sailed to Tagus Cove where we disembarked for a power hike to Darwin’s Lake and beyond before beginning our 11 hour sail around the northern tip of Isabela island.
This was the hike that involved the most effort but it was well-worth the views. The hike involves a lot of stairs but is safe and manageable for most. Be sure to bring water!
Day 5: Santiago & Rabida Islands
Santiago & Rabida Islands. We walked the lava fields of Santiago and saw so much wildlife. After our hike, we snorkeled and swam off the beach with black sand. The boat set sail during lunch and siesta and landed at Rabida Island. There were walked along the red sand beach and had the option to do some more deep-sea snorkeling.
With every stop along the way, snorkeling is optional. Each island provides new sea-life to explore but if ever you need a break, you can stay back on the boat or just ride the zodiac and watch others snorkel.
Day 6: Return to Santa Cruz Island
Over night we sailed back to Santa Cruz Island for our final stop. At 6am, we disembarked to Las Bachas beach for a sunrise walk. There we saw many birds including flamingos and blue herons. We were the only ones on the island and the peaceful sounds of birds and waves made it a beautiful way to start our day.
We spent two more days in Santa Cruz and stayed at the Galapagos Habitat Hotel, which had incredible ocean views, delicious food and excellent service. Here we were able to relax and rest after our epic cruise adventure.
Need to Know
This is truly one of those trips that will alter your perspective and appreciation for travel. The guides of Ecuador are some of the best in the world, the passion and respect for their country is contagious and being able to see a part of the world that not everyone gets to witness. A vacation to the Galapagos Islands is without a doubt a once-in-a-lifetime adventure; perfect for solo-travelers, multi-generational families or any traveler or family that wants to experience the vast eco-systems our world has to offer.
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