Visiting the Galapagos is, for many, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. While planning the trip, you will want to do everything possible to enjoy the trip as much as you can. Learn how to get the most out of your Galapagos Island Vacation, and remember that if you couldn’t do all the activities you wanted or see all the sites you researched, simply plan a second trip to the islands. With so many travel options, it is quite easy to plan not only one trip.
Get the Most Out of Your Galapagos Island Vacation
Going to the Galapagos Islands is a trip of a lifetime, although you can come back as many times as you wish. From hiking a volcano to swimming with sea lions, there are so many things to do while visiting the area, and if you plan ahead, you can enjoy everything on your list. Use these tips while planning so that you can get the most out of your Galapagos island vacation.
Research and Plan Ahead
Before you leave for the Galapagos, take a look at what the area has to offer. Plan for activities ahead of time so that you can do the things that interest you most. The islands lack natural predators, so watching the local wildlife up close is a popular draw for visitors. There are many adventures to discover in the water as well as on land, such as diving, snorkeling, hiking, kayaking, surfing and even just relaxing after cruising at one of the local hotels. Being prepared is one of the best things you can do before your trip. Remember you will be going to an isolated location, and thus the need for researching and planning for maximizing your holiday.
Take as Much Time as Possible Visiting the Islands
If you really want to get the most out of your Galapagos Island vacation, take as much time as you can visiting the islands. Because there are so many things you can do on the 19 islands that make up the Galapagos, the longer you can stay, the better. If you book a Galapagos cruise, you’ll be able to travel between islands at night and spend as much of the day as possible exploring the land. There are so many perceptions about the islands, that some visitors forget about planning based on realities, and once they get to the islands they wished they could’ve stayed some extra days. Also, the longer you stay, the closer you get to observing the famous BIG15.
Travel With a Sense of Discovery
Some of the best vacations are the ones where you immerse yourself with a true sense of discovery. The reason: you have no idea what lies ahead. One of the best wildlife-watching spots that most tours will not take you is Punta Suarez on Española (Hood) Island. Here, you can find the only nesting colony of Galapagos albatrosses (from late March through early January) and plenty of nesting sites for blue-footed boobies, swallow-tail gulls, and Nazca boobies. If you want to see Marine Iguanas, go to Punta Espinoza on Fernandina Island. This is the youngest active volcano in the Galapagos. No matter what you are looking to get out of your Galapagos Island vacation, experiencing it with a sense of discovery will add that big difference in front of other destination where everything is already structured and already designed.
Prepare for the Sun
With the Galapagos Islands being located so close to the equator, the sun can be brutal, and there is not always a lot of shade to be found. Take steps early to avoid a sunburned-spent vacation and make sure you bring a hat, sunglasses and sunscreen with you. At least, SPF15 is what we recommend. Of course, if you are the type of fair skin, then higher protection is highly advised.
Plan How You Will Get Around the Islands
The best way to get around is by live-aboard vessel. Not many vessels operate in the islands, and that’s why you need to book ahead of time. Finding space can be a challenge, and because the islands are quite an exclusive destination for tourism, last-minute specials are not very common. Depending on your itinerary, you can make day trips by boat to neighboring islands, or you can book a cruise that travels between the islands at night. One great thing about booking a cruise for your Galapagos Island vacation is that traveling from island to island happens mostly at night, so every day you will wake up at a new location.
Know When to Go
Depending on what you are looking to get out of your Galapagos Island vacation, there will be a best time of year to go. Busy times (high season) include mid June, July and August. Additionally, many visitors come in December and January to escape the cold of their hometowns, and to spend the Christmas and New Year’s holidays. From December through May, the ocean is the calmest, and it is considered the hot season in the Galapagos. There could be an occasional shower, but most days are quite sunny, warm, and balmy. The cooler dry season is from June through November, and the seas pick up more wind and wave action. If you are interested in the marine life, Galapagos is full of aquatic highlights all year round. Water temperature will be different from one season to the other one. In the dry season, marine birds are more active as the fish population increases, and it is also a great time to see their mating rituals. The hot season is the only brief time that visitors see the islands green, and really tropical. Land reptiles and land birds reproduce at this time.
Pack for the Trip
Some things you will want to make sure you pack for this trip include a waterproof camera for great underwater pictures, regular camera with plenty of memory storage, rain protection (parka, ziplock bags), bathing suit, hiking shoes, wide-brim hat, cash to get into the national park, sunscreen, sunglasses, and binoculars. If your vision requires prescription, please bring your own prescription mask for snorkeling comfortably. Depending on the types of activities you plan to participate in during the trip, you may have other items that are needed. Even if you don’t have your exact itinerary decided yet, it is better to pack some extra items for activities that are popular in the area in case you decide you want to join in while you are there.
Blog Reviewed & Edited by: Francisco Dousdebés
All Images: Francisco Dousdebés