As gloomy as the world is looking at the moment, one of the best ways to keep your sense of excitement alive is by pre-planning a beautiful ‘alternative’ holiday destination to look forward to once the ‘sunlight’ returns. Being ‘trapped’ in our homes can be very frustrating as humanity continues to court nature from behind closed doors. But the doors will open, eventually. So, use the extra time in your hands to arrange your next adventure destination, because the lockdown doors will open up, eventually! That said, let’s explore one of the world’s best destinations for sun-seekers and wildlife lovers alike.
Okay, you may be having second thoughts with the mention of volcanic eruptions but you needn’t worry as most of these volcanoes are inactive. It’s important to note that the islands are one of the fewest places left on this planet that has not been negatively affected by human activity. Although it faces human threats, a lot has been done to protect the islands. So, let’s jump into a bit more detail about the individual islands. They are made up of 13 major islands and six other smaller ones that offer diversity with respect to vegetation, landscape, and wildlife.
Santa Cruz Island
This is usually the most accessible in this destination and that’s part of the reason why it is considered the most popular of the islands. It is situated right in the middle of the archipelago and offers an almost perfect point of access to the other islands. It is famous for its large tortoise species and it also offers a perfect hiking opportunity along the famous Twin Craters. If hiking is not your thing, you can explore the magnificent lava tunnels that grace the landscape. And oh! It is home to the Charles Darwin Research Foundation.
Up north from Santa Cruz, is Baltra Island – a small island that is mostly the entry point to the Galapagos. The island is known for its groves of prickly pear cactus and beautiful beaches. But don’t expect to spend too much time here if you’re on a cruise tour as most of the cruises focus on the other islands.
This is one of the most popular islands in the region. Two overlapping volcanoes majestically determine the island’s landscape and will give you a breathtaking view as you walk over preserved lava flow punctuated by lava bubbles. It also offers beautiful sights of exotic wildlife, Galapagos penguins, iguana, sea lions, sea turtles, flamingos, name them.
At the east of Santiago Island is the small island of Bartolome. But despite its small size, it is also one of the most popular islands in the region. It offers one of the few spots where you can find the Galapagos penguins and the beautiful Pinnacle rock casting its presence over the island and giving you an envious background for your photos.
Genealogically speaking, Espanola island is the oldest in the archipelago. Among its numerous beautiful spots, two, in particular, stand out – Punta Suarez and Gardener Bay. Punta Suarez offers the view of the rare marine iguanas and lava lizards, while the Gardener Bay is ideal for swimming in the fresh island waters. There have been efforts to aggressively restore the tortoise population as well as the island’s declining cactus plants. However, because of the mighty waves that crack the island’s shores, it is best to visit between December and May.
Santa Fe Island
Santa Fe Island beaches is the home of the sea lions in the region. They grace the coastal line with their presence under the brightness of the sunlight, and in the company of some marine iguanas. The highlands of Sante Fe are also ideal for hiking lovers, with trails that will usher you through the watchful eyes of wild iguanas, red-billed tropic birds, swallow-tailed gulls, and Galapagos petrels.
Fernandina Island was named after the famous King Ferdinand II of Aragon. The island is the home of flightless cormorants that can be seen ‘hanging out’ on the coastal rocks. Fernandina is also popular because of its volcanic activity. So, if you’ve ever dreamed of witnessing a volcano erupt live, your best chance of seeing one is from a safe spot on this island. You can also visit the Punta Espinosa, home to some more marine iguanas.
San Cristobal Island
Charles Darwin is said to have visited this island first, on his explorative visit in the 1800s. San Cristobal island is where you can find the capital of the Galapagos islands – Puerto Baquerizo Moreno. Here, you can visit the Museum of Natural History, where you can learn about everything you need to know about the history of the island. There is also an Interpretation Centre to assist you no matter your nationality. The island is not left out when it comes to wildlife and natural beauty. Here, you can find more marine iguanas, giant tortoises, and sea lions along its beaches. And, at the Laguna El Junco, you can spot frigate birds minding their own business.
In Floreana Island, you will find the historical and probably the world’s most unusual post office – the Post Office Barrel, which can be found in the Post Office Bay. The Post Office Barrel has been maintained (and impressively so) in its earliest state when sailors visited the island. The only downside of Floreana Island lies in its dark past when there were several mysterious disappearances among the earliest settlers. Do you believe in ghosts? The clear waters of the island is also home to green sea turtles and pink flamingos that you can spot at close range. The island is also the most difficult to reach due to its southernmost location. It is, as a result, very difficult to visit and return on the same day without stress. Staying overnight is the best option. Again, do you believe in ghosts?
The first thing you will notice in this small island is the vibrant red soil. This is a result of the high iron levels in the lava. But that will not stop you from spotting lots of pelicans and sea lions.
From a small island to the largest one in Galapagos, we have Isabela Island. This island is so large it’s also the most populated. It can easily be spotted from any of the Galapagos cruises even before setting off to the islands. It appears in the shape of a seahorse and hosts five active volcanoes and one dormant. Puerto Villamil, the island’s main town, will treat you to a serene and ideal spot for relaxation on the white sand beach. If you have more energy in you, you can also visit the giant tortoise breeding center outside of the town.
From the southernmost to the northernmost, we have Genovesa Island. Here, you will be treated to a wide range of exotic birds as well as underwater adventures. It is not rare to come across a sperm whale out on the waters.
So, are the Galapagos Islands an ideal vacation destination? You bet they are. Plus, Galapagos Islands vacations and tours are on hand to guide you through your best vacation experience while offering you all the support you need.
How much does it cost?
To have a truly unique experience, you should plan to spend an average of $130 each day on your vacation. This is based on the calculations of other visitors’ expenses. This includes food and transportation. Galapagos Islands hotel prices can range from $30 to $800 per night, depending on the hotel you choose. There are luxurious 5-star hotels as well as moderate yet comfortable hotels to choose from.
What is the best time to visit?
Although the islands are beautiful all year round, the best period to visit is from December to May as this period comes with temperatures between 70 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. This temperature makes it perfect for sightseeing.
The Galapagos Islands will give you the perfect escape from the bustle of everyday life. Plus, internet connectivity is almost unavailable. So you can be sure to be off your social media pages during your visits – a needed break. The food is delicious with several local recipes you can try. Moreover, the islands are safe as there are tour officials always available to offer any assistance you may need.