15 Reasons to put the Galapagos Islands on your bucket list
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The Galapagos islands are just in one word AMAZING!… Here are 15 brief reasons and photo impressions of why you should visit the Galapagos Islands! But I must warn you… after reading this post you are likely to rewrite your travel bucket list and will be urged to pack your bag immediately!
Top Tip: The Galapagos Islands do not come cheap! My key advice is to book last-minute deals, perhaps best when you already have reached Ecuador mainland. We booked our trip just 1 day before at a travel agent in Quito for half the usual price.
You can make the Galapagos (or everything in life) as expensive as you like. However, for a decent boat, good travel itinerary and around 4-5 nights stay you would need at least 1000-1500 USD per person! This includes your return flight ticket (from Quito or Guayaquil) and the national park fee.
1. Galapagos Islands’ great preservation
Let’s start with why the Galapagos Islands are one of the best places to visit in the world; the preservation efforts! Consequently, this comes with a price tag and as mentioned it is definitely not cheap to visit the Galapagos Islands. However, these preservation efforts do guarantee you an exclusive and once in a lifetime experience. No mass tourism, large cruise ships, or crowded beaches. Regarding the latter, I mean crowded with humans because the beaches will be full of wildlife! Seals, penguins, saltwater lizards, birds, the list goes on and on.
2. Unique wildlife interaction
Given its remote location and the limited human interference, wildlife on the Galapagos Islands is not instinctively frightened of humans. Instead of an animal walking away from you, it will sit tight or even come towards you! This is a unique experience and I have only experienced it on these volcanic islands. This enables you to get up close (touching is strictly prohibited) to that baby seal, snorkel with that stingray or turtle, or get eye to eye with that giant lizard.
Already briefly mentioned before, the Galapagos Islands only allow small yachts to cruise around the islands. Firstly this means your group size will be very limited. Secondly, no large cruise ships mean no mass tourism anywhere on the islands. Thirdly, guides align schedules and/or wait for other groups to finish their activity. For example, this means you will go snorkelling, while another cruise is onshore and will only go on shore when the other group has left, this means you will hardly see any of the other boats or groups in your near vicinity.
4. Enjoy the great food
The higher price tag does also come with some additional comfort. All cruises have a chef onboard preparing outstanding food! You will enjoy amazing breakfasts, lunches, and dinners in between your snorkel sessions and explorations.
5. Roam the Islands like Darwin
The high level of preservation, the lack of mass tourism and the small exclusive groups all contribute to feeling like Darwin when exploring these islands. As it was here that the most famous Biologist found the basis for his Evolution Theory.
Just like Darwin, you will be visiting multiple islands. Travelling by yacht means you travel mainly overnight from island to island. Therefore you will wake up every morning in a different bay ready to explore a next island or reef.
6. Snorkelling luxury problems: continuous choices
During every snorkel session, you will be amazed by the abundance of wildlife beneath the sea level. “Unfortunately” you will have to choose to snorkel with that stingray or follow that turtle when it is going up for a fresh breath of air…. Will you explore that coral or get up close with those frightening looking reef sharks (which are harmless)? Just too much to choose!
7. Swim through tunnels of fish
During one of our snorkelling sessions, we were lucky to meet an enormous school of fish. Which would part away as a tunnel when snorkelling through it. A great experience and have thus far not come across again anywhere in the world, especially not this size.
Top Tip: If you are a diving (or snorkelling) enthusiast do consider to stay a bit longer on one of the inhabited islands. You can plan this before or after your cruise. From here you can book separate additional diving or snorkelling trips. It is really worth it!… Check if any of the operators know specific locations where to spot these large schools of fish! It is really amazing! (Unfortunately, our guide took photos but he had camera issues, so not able to share!)
8. Swim with Seals
One of our snorkelling excursions was extra special, as we were able to swim with seals! Amazing!
9. Swim with Tiger sharks
After the snorkelling with seals, we got unexpected visitors… Given our human swimming capabilities, we were likely mistaken by splashing dying seals. We got the attention of a group of Tiger sharks (yes these can be dangerous). They started circling the group and showed an increasing interest in us… Our guide obviously saw what was happening and got us all safely in the boat, long before any shark was about to attempt any serious attack.
10. Meet the world’s largest tortoises
Although the underwater world of the Galapagos Islands would already be enough reason to visit, it has even more to offer! These remote islands also house the World’s largest species of tortoises; the Galapagos Tortoise.
11. Surround yourself with countless dolphins
During your travels between the islands, you will surely be greeted by many pods or even superpods of dolphins. Always great to see them play and interact with your boat and each other!
12. Flamboyance of Flamingos
Many of the Galapagos Islands have brackish ponds of water, which are home to large groups of Flamingos
13. Various giant Iguanas
In addition, the volcanic islands are home to various types of Iguanas, like the yellow coloured land iguana. Also when snorkelling we came across multiple black saltwater Iguanas.
14. Amazing bird sanctuary
The islands are a bird spotter’s paradise! The Galapagos Islands are also home to many species of birds, of which the read breasted frigate bird and the blue-footed booby are a few of the most impressive. But also do keep an eye out for the penguins, pelicans and many others!
15. Unique flora
To top it all off, this abundance of wildlife is to be enjoyed with an amazing backdrop of unique plants and flowers! Ranging from “cactus trees” to beautiful mangroves.
I am sure that after reading this post, you can only be excited about visiting the Galapagos Islands! So start planning your trip! Have a read here on other top 5 things to do in Ecuador. This will provide you with great tips on what else to include around your Galapagos trip!
Curious about other snorkelling destinations? What about Kanawa Island? This small Indonesian island is likely easier, and definitely cheaper to reach. It is possibly my personal number 2 snorkelling destination!