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The Ultimate Travel Guide to Galapagos Islands

The Galapagos Islands offer wildlife, beaches, and scenery unlike anywhere else in the world. Read our guide to Galapagos Islands travel to plan the ultimate trip.Where to go, what to pack and when to travel to the Galapagos Islands.Find information on travel guide to Galapagos Islands.

Travel Guide to Galapagos Islands

Is it your dream to visit the famed Galapagos Islands? It’s time to turn that dream into reality.

Although tourism in the Galapagos is gradually increasing, it’s still one of the most remote and unspoiled destinations in the world. In 2015, just under 225,000 visitors came to explore the islands.

Will this year be your turn?

In this Galapagos Islands travel guide, we’ll reveal when to go, how to get there, and what to look forward to when you arrive. Read on to learn more!

When Should I Visit?

The good news is there’s no bad time to visit the Galapagos Islands. You can enjoy their natural beauty and unique wildlife every month of the year.

With that said, you should still be aware of a few things.

The busiest times of year are from mid-June to early September and December to January. This is when the majority of visitors come to the Galapagos.

Keep in mind, though, that the National Park closely regulates the number of people allowed to visit. This means that even during the busiest seasons, the islands won’t be overrun with tourists.

The wet season (December through May) offers the warmest air and sea temperatures. Bright sunshine and brief daily rainstorms are the norm.

This is the time of year to visit if you want to swim and snorkel, as the waters are clear and calm. It’s also the breeding season for sea turtles, sea lions, and land birds.

The dry season (June through November) brings colder waters and cooler, cloudier weather to the Galapagos. With that said, the temperature during the say is still a comfortable 75-80F (24-27C), with nighttime temperature rarely dipping below 65F (18C).

The ocean currents during this time of year bring a lot of nutrients and plankton into the area. This increases the number of birds and fish in the islands. The dry season is also considered the better season for scuba diving.

Travel Guide to Galapagos Islands

How Should I Get There?

The vast majority of visitors arrive in the Galapagos via a flight from mainland Ecuador. TAME, Avianca, and LAN Airlines each offer daily service from Quito to either Isla Baltra or Isla San Cristobal.

Once you’re in the islands, you have two choices:

  • Stay in a hotel and book day-trips to different islands.
  • Tour the islands via a small cruise boat.

For the budget-conscious traveler, staying on one of the islands and planning day-trips is the least expensive option. A drawback is that you’ll spend a lot of your time traveling to and from your hotel to different islands–leaving you little time to actually explore them.

This is one reason why most visitors prefer to book Galapagos tours on a cruise boat. You eat and sleep onboard and arrive at a new destination each morning, maximizing your time onshore.

What Should I See and Do?

Trust us…you will never get bored on the Galapagos Islands.

One of the main draws for most tourists is the chance to see so much biodiversity in one place. Because of their remote location, the Galapagos Islands are home to the world’s largest number of endemic species.

In fact, 80% of land birds, 97% of mammals and reptiles, 30% of plants, and 20% of marine life in the Galapagos can only be found in the Galapagos.

The Galapagos giant tortoise, for example, looks like it waddled right out of Jurassic Park. It can grow as large as five feet long and weigh over 550 pounds! Check out one of the breeding centers for your chance to get up close and personal.

If your cruise includes the western island itinerary, it’s sure to stop at Tagus Cove on Isabela Island. Here you’ll find the islands’ largest colony of Galapagos penguins living alongside wild tortoises.

If you have your heart set on seeing an albatross, head over to Punta Suarez on the island of Espanola. The winged giants make this spot their nesting ground every year from April to November.

Keep an eye out for swimming iguanas, blue-footed boobies, and wandering sea lion colonies too.

Aside from wildlife watching, what else is there to do? Choose from:

  • Snorkeling
  • Scuba diving
  • Sunbathing
  • Hiking
  • Surfing
  • Kayaking

If you’re feeling altruistic, the Galapagos Islands are a great place to volunteer. Spend some of your vacation supporting a great cause by working on a farm or habitat restoration project.

What Should I Pack?

Sun, wind, sea, and isolation create a unique challenge for packing. Here’s a list of what to bring to ensure you don’t forget anything:

  • Sunscreen, sunscreen, and more sunscreen
  • Hat
  • Polarized sunglasses
  • Binoculars
  • Camera/Go-Pro
  • Selfie stick
  • Swimsuit
  • Dive mask/snorkel/fins
  • Long-sleeved shirts (for sun and wind protection)
  • Waterproof jacket
  • Umbrella
  • Quick-drying clothing
  • Sturdy hiking shoes
  • Motion sickness tablets
  • Daypack for all your gear

Ecuador uses US dollars for their currency. You’ll find that only a few places on the islands accept credit cards and even less exchange foreign currency. Be sure to bring plenty of cash with you and keep it stored in a safe place.

On a final note, there are also a few things you should not bring to the Galapagos. These include:

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Plants
  • Seeds
  • Animals
  • Used camping equipment or gear

Because of the fragile ecosystem on the islands, introducing non-native species (even on accident) could have devastating effects. Be prepared to sign a sworn affidavit when you land that you’re not carrying any of the above items with you.

Galapagos Islands Travel and More

From unspoiled beaches to incredible biodiversity, there’s something for everyone in the Galapagos Islands.

So what are you waiting for? Start making your Galapagos Islands travel plans today!

Looking for more helpful travel advice? Check out our latest blog posts for our expert tips.

Bon voyage!

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