Visiting the Galapagos Islands

Visiting the Galápagos Islands

Situated in the balmy Pacific waters, the Galápagos Islands are nearly every traveller’s dream destination, and it’s easy to see why!

The Galápagos Islands are part of the Republic of Ecuador, but their unique wildlife and culture make them feel like a nation of their own.

These volcanic islands rose to popularity after Charles Darwin’s historic visit when he first catalogued the amazing wildlife that calls these islands home.  Although the islands and their waters are closely protected by The Galápagos National Park and the Galápagos Marine Reserve, tourism is still welcome and encouraged. However, due to some strict guidelines and precautions that surround travel and sight-seeing, it’s important to consider several important questions before settling your holiday plans. 

When Should I Visit?

Although the Galápagos Islands enjoy a beautiful tropical climate year-round, weather and temperature still vary greatly depending on elevation and season. The islands enjoy only two main seasons: “cool and dry” and “warm and wet.”  From December through June, the Galápagos Islands enjoy warmer and calmer seas, making this season best for visitors, particularly if you plan to enjoy a cruise through this island archipelago. During this season, daily temperatures usually average from 20-25 degrees Celcius, an ideal range for hiking, swimming, and enjoy the islands’ wildlife. 

What Special Attractions are Available?

Because of the amazing creatures and nature that fills the Galápagos Islands, it stands to reason that many of the best attractions and guest experiences centre around it marine and wildlife. Snorkelling and scuba diving in the crystal-clear warm waters is the best way to catch glimpses of sea turtles, Galápagos penguins, and colourful tropical fish. For a more exciting and pulse-pounding experience, shark diving with trained guides is the perfect mix of excitement and adventure. Hiking through the islands also offers unforgettable glimpses of the famous Galápagos tortoises and iguanas.  

After a day of the untouched beautiful nature, catch some nightlife and culture at Galeria Aymara, a beautiful museum that is home to the islands’ best art.  With many restaurants and clubs scattered throughout the main islands, visitors can enjoy authentic island cuisine and culture. Some of the best guest attractions and sight-seeing include Charles Darwin Research Station in Puerto Ayora, Concha de Perla in Puerto Villamil, Santa Cruz Fish Market in Puerto Ayora, The Wall of Tears in Puerto Villamil and Lava Tunnel in Santa Cruz.

Where Should I Stay?

Many feel that the best way to experience the Galápagos Islands is from the comfort of a cruising package.  Combine your travel and accommodation plans by cruising throughout the islands and stopping off at specific guest sights and cities.  For those that don’t wish to invest in a cruise package, many hotels are available for any length of stay.  However, always consider several hotels before making your final reservations.  Sometimes, booking shorter stays at several hotels is more cost-effective than planning one lengthy stay at a single location. 

How Do I Get Around?

With so many sights and experiences to enjoy, reliable transportation is a definite necessity for enjoying all that the Galápagos Islands has to offer. By far, boats are the best way to travel from island to island. Rent a boat for a private tour through the islands or a day scuba diving off the beach.  However, for smaller day trips in the city, taxi cabs and bicycling are affordable ways to explore and experience all the sights and sounds of the islands. 

What Safety Precautions Should I Take?

Although the Galápagos Islands enjoy a relatively quiet and peaceful reputation, there are still important considerations every visitor should take.  As you plan your holiday, remember these important safety tips:

  • Avoid unregulated, “private” tourist companies.  Always check that your tour follows international safety codes and holds a trustworthy reputation.
  • Consider purchasing travel insurance to guard against any unexpected evacuations, medical emergencies, and theft. 
  • Closely read any rules and guidelines set forth by the islands’ nature reserves and conservation authorities to avoid accidentally breaking any nature laws. 
  • Receive a full medical check-up and immunisations before leaving on your trip and pack a thorough first aid kit. The Galápagos Islands offer very limited medical supplies and care.
  • Always dive or scuba dive with a trained guide that is familiar with each location; consider taking lessons beforehand and well-acquaint yourself with all the rules and regulations. 
  • Stay on authorized hiking trails and avoid venturing in unmarked territory. As many locations on these islands are considered nature preserves, hiking or exploring unauthorized areas is a dangerous and illegal activity. 
  • Never touch or feed any wildlife; always stay a safe distance even while photographing. 

What are the Local Culture and Customs?

As the Galápagos Islands are part of Ecuador, many of the same customs and culture pervade. Spanish is the official language, but English, and Quichua, an Incan language, are also frequently spoken. Although this is a South American country, the US dollar is the official currency throughout the islands.  Many native islanders are Mestizos, descendants of Spaniards and native Indians.  This rich heritage is responsible for the beautiful mixture of culture that decorates these islands. These islands are peaceful and welcoming with a strong emphasis on family and friendship.  It’s easy to feel very at home among the warm island communities.  Dance, music, and folklore art fill every city, each hearkening back to the island’s history. 

Regardless of the length of your stay, the Galápagos Islands offer unforgettable memories and an intimate look at nature in its purest form.  With preparation and planning, every visitor can enjoy a relaxing and safe island experience.

Don’t forget to arrange travel insurance as soon as you’ve made a booking. Get a quote today or call one of our friendly team on 1300 819 888 to discuss your requirements.