Island hopping through the main Galapagos Islands

Nature
The wow factor for nature - does it show nature at its best? Doesn't need to be the wilder-beast migration or diving with hundreds of hammerheads. Rather make you pause as you realise just how awesome the natural world can be
9
Culture
How much does this experience showcase some of the better and finer things that us humans can offer? Sure, it can be ancient ruins and renaissance churches, but it can also be festivals or soaking up some of the great modern cities of the world
1
Fun factor/activity
Very simple - was it fun? This is usually linked in with doing some kind of activity - i mean, walking along some cliffs is nice, but paragliding from them, now that is fun. Its a vastly underrated factor in a truly great experience
7
Avoid the crowds
Big tour groups and being surrounded by loud fellow tourists can sap the life out of even the greatest of travel experiences. This score is to reflect just how much you can avoid this. But. . . The score also takes into account if the crowds actually add to the experience, such as with a party town or a bustling food market
7
World famous
How world famous is the experience?
10
unique
How hard is it to have a similar experience in other places round the world?
9
Overall Score
The highest score of nature or culture, + fun factor, + avoid the crowds, + the highest score of world famous or unique. Then turned into a score out of 100. More details at the bottom of the page
82 *What the scores mean and where do they come from
continent
South America
country
Ecuador
Length of time
Around a week
Rough cost
Obviously people have different tastes, so this will depend on those tastes, but this is a rough idea of price of the whole experience based on 2 people able to split the accommodation costs and excluding travel there and back
$ 1,500
Time of year visited
February
Primary Tags
Click on any of the tags to see all travel experiences with the same tag
RANKING
How this travel experience ranks compared to all the other experiences on this site
22nd/334 This travel experience's ranking compared to all the other experiences on this site
Top 10% SUMMARY RATING: Unmissable

Summary

Spend a week lying on world class beaches, island hopping and seeing wildlife that often feels straight from a David Attenborough documentary. The Galapagos Islands are a world famous nature reserve around a thousand miles from the mainland, but don’t let that put you off – this wonderful experience is far more accessible than you would think

 

If you combine this trip around the main Galapagos Islands with Scuba diving at Wolf and Darwin Islands in the Galapagos, this truly becomes the trip of a lifetime

highlights

#1 Island hopping from one white-sand paradise to the next. Jumping on the ferries is easy to do and gives a real feeling of adventure when arriving in some of the super remote towns

#2 Swim and play with sea lions - they are EVERYWHERE! Lazing around or playing in rock pools

#3 World class beaches - must try Tortuga Bay where you can enjoy the beautiful white sand alongside a bunch of Marine Iguanas

#4 Up close with Pelicans that seem to be ever present across the islands

#5 Swim with baby sharks - in the shallow waters right off the beach shore

#6 See the Giant Tortoises at the Reserve on Isla Santa Cruz. Some of these wonderful animals are 170 years old

#7 Cycling and hiking in the national parks. The one next to Puerto Villamil on Isla Isabela is worth checking out and has a lovely cycle along the beach

Travel Tips

  • Head off on your own – you’ll probably read that the easiest way to see the islands is on a cruise, and that may well be the case.  But my advice would be head off on your own for the island hoping adventure, which is far easier to do than you would think.  You’ll get to see the sea lions, pelicans, blue footed boobies and marine iguanas – they are everywhere!  Plus you’ll be able to spend time at some of the world class beaches, see the tortoises, go for some hikes and cycle around parts of the islands
  • MUST visit Tortuga Bay Beach – stunning white sand beach and bring your snorkelling gear as just off the shore in the shallows by the rock pools were around 20 baby sharks.  Its a bit of a walk from town, but well worth it
  • The Galapagos Islands are expensive – kind of feels like you’re constantly paying cash out for something or other.  Be prepared to pay a premium for accommodation and food.  Also be prepared for what feels like random entrance fees eg for getting to the airport, for entering a non-descript road, for landing on a new island, for just about everything . . .
  • Haggle over tour prices – as always, try to do some of the stuff on your own – hire a bike or hire a taxi.  Its a safe place to do so.  That being said, if you fancy going on a tour, you can haggle very easily over price. Especially if you are flexible on time and want to go on a cruise
  • Kiosko de Renato – in Puerto Ayora be sure to check out the Kiosko de Renato area for a street of seafood restaurants and the groups of Pelicans who hang out by the mini docks waiting for a morsel of fish from the fisherman gutting the fish
  • Ferries – the ferries between the islands can be a mixed bag and often cramped. Its a price worth paying for being in paradise, but be prepared
  • The Isabella Beach House – the one place we would recommend for accommodation was The Isabella Beach House on Isla Isabella.  Decent bedrooms, nice sunset views and what seemed to be an ever present young sea lion playing in the shallows nearby
  • Combine with a diving trip – island hopping around the main Galapagos Islands makes sense especially for those who will travel to the Galapagos for scuba diving.  You’ll already have spent around a week on a diving tour, so it makes for a good contrast to go and see the islands on your own

Experiences nearby

The below map shows experiences nearby with a colour that reflect the Overall Score of those experiences

Score Detail

Background - how many times have you asked someone what a travel experience was like and the response was "amazing" or "awesome"?  That response is nice to know, but it makes it hard to differentiate that experience compared to others.  That is exactly what these scores are trying to do - differentiate the experience by giving a score out of 10 based on 6 categories and then giving an overall experience score

This overall experience score is calculated by:  take the highest of the "Culture" or "Nature" score (1-10) + "Fun factor" (1-10) + "Avoiding the crowds" (1-10) + highest of the "Unique" or "World Famous score" (1-10).  Then convert into a score out of 100

Extra detail - the logic being that I find all of the 6 individual scores important, but I don't want to mark an experience down just because it doesn't cover both "Culture" and "Nature", or because it isn't both "World Famous" and "Unique".  Take the examples of Safari in The Serengeti and walking through Rome - they both appeal at opposite ends of the nature / culture spectrum, and you can have a fantastic time without needing to appeal to both sides.  So, their overall scores aren't penalized for their lack of one or the other, and I've done the same for "World Famous" vs "Unique".  But . . . I do think that the "Fun factor" of an experience is important, irrelevant of other factors, and so is "Avoiding the Crowds" (or where there are crowds that add to the experience).  So, both of these scores are standalone