Galapagos Islands Travel Guide

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Best Things To Do in Galapagos Islands

The Galápagos' various islands are strikingly different. Some feature imposing active volcanoes, while others flaunt idyllic beaches and remote wildlife reserves. If you're planning an extended visit, you'll want to explore them all. But should you have time limitations, you'll need to build a selective itinerary. Wildlife-watchers will want to venture to the small town of Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz Island to tour the Charles Darwin Research Station before continuing southwest to catch a glimpse of critters basking in the sun along Santa Cruz's Tortuga Bay. Intrepid hikers will take pleasure in exploring Sierra Negra, Isabela Island's active volcano, while aquatic enthusiasts will enjoy sharing the waters with exuberant tropical fish during a snorkeling or diving excursion. Whatever pursuits pique your interest, just be sure to make time for exploring the Galápagos' unspoiled landscapes and interacting with its magnificent creatures.

How we rank Things to Do

Updated January 27, 2018

  • #1
    Things to do in Galapagos Islands
    View all Photos
    #1 in Galapagos Islands
    Beaches, Natural Wonders, Sightseeing, Free
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Beaches, Natural Wonders, Sightseeing, Free
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    Outdoorsy types don't flock to these two white sand beaches simply to bake in the warm equatorial sun. Travelers visit this isolated strip of Santa Cruz Island's southern coastline for some quality face time with the Galápagos' marine turtles. If you visit between January and February, you may even catch

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  • #2
    Rancho Primicias (Santa Cruz Island)
    View all Photos
    #2 in Galapagos Islands
    Parks and Gardens, Sightseeing
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Parks and Gardens, Sightseeing
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    One of the Galápagos Islands' most well-known creatures is the giant tortoise, and one of the region's best places to see them is at Rancho Primicias. Located on Santa Cruz Island roughly 13 miles away fromPuerto Ayora, this privately-owned animal sanctuary is filled with giant tortoises. The site also features empty

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  • #3
    La Loberia (San Cristóbal Island)
    View all Photos
    #3 in Galapagos Islands
    Beaches, Natural Wonders, Sightseeing, Free
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Beaches, Natural Wonders, Sightseeing, Free
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    Located near Puerto Baquerizo Morenoon San Cristóbal Island, this scenic sea lion-laden beach offers ample opportunities for catching sight of the island's lively local residents. For those looking to hit the waves, there are also ample places to surf, swim andsnorkel. Just be sure to stay a safe distance away from the

    ...Read More »
  • #4
    Snorkeling & Diving
    View all Photos
    #4 in Galapagos Islands
    Natural Wonders, Sightseeing, Swimming/Pools, Free
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Natural Wonders, Sightseeing, Swimming/Pools, Free
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    To many, the Galápagos' charm lies with its abundance of land-roaming creatures. But for aquatic enthusiasts more interested in the incredible diversity of wildlife found beneath its turquoise waves, the Galápagos' surrounding waters are just as alluring. As soon as you take the plunge, you'll come face-to-face with a myriad of

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  • #5
    El Chato Tortoise Reserve (Santa Cruz Island)
    View all Photos
    #5 in Galapagos Islands
    Parks and Gardens, Sightseeing
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Parks and Gardens, Sightseeing
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    If you came to the Galápagos to stand face-to-face with a giant tortoise, then you can't pass up a trip to El Chato Tortoise Reserve. But tortoises aren't the only animals to look out for here: As you get acquainted with these immense, dome-shaped creatures, you may even hear the

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  • #6
    Bird-watching
    View all Photos
    #6 in Galapagos Islands
    Sightseeing, Free
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Sightseeing, Free
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    The Galápagos Islands served as the site of Charles Darwin's famous flora and fauna observations and the inspiration behind his groundbreaking "On the Origin of Species," so it's hardly surprising that the islands are considered one of the world's best spots for bird-watching. In fact, the region is home to 45

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  • #7
    Puerto Ayora (Santa Cruz Island)
    View all Photos
    #7 in Galapagos Islands
    Free, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    Half Day to Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Free, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    Half Day to Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    Set at the center of the Galápagos archipelago, Santa Cruz Island serves as a central base for exploration. And skirting Santa Cruz's southern shoreline along Academy Bay is Puerto Ayora. The island's primary town provides a nice spot for visitors to unwind at the end of the day thanks to

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  • #8
    Puerto Villamil (Isabela Island)
    View all Photos
    #8 in Galapagos Islands
    Free, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    Half Day to Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Free, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    Half Day to Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    On Isabela Island, the largest island in the Galápagos, lies the quiet town of Puerto Villamil. Named after General José Villamil, the Galápagos Islands' first governor who settled in the area in 1832, this port town features white sand beaches, lagoons with pink flamingos and multiple restaurants andhotels. It is also

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  • #9
    Charles Darwin Research Station (Santa Cruz Island)
    View all Photos
    #9 in Galapagos Islands
    Parks and Gardens, Sightseeing, Free
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Parks and Gardens, Sightseeing, Free
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    A must-see attraction for budding scientists, this exulted site features an active breeding center and informative displays explaining the archipelago's unique ecology and history. Operated by the Charles Darwin Foundation, the center strives to preserve the diversity of the Galápagos Islands through continual conservation research and practices with over a

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  • #10
    Puerto Baquerizo Moreno (San Cristóbal Island)
    View all Photos
    #10 in Galapagos Islands
    Free, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    Half Day to Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Free, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    Half Day to Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    Situated on San Cristóbal Island, Puerto Baquerizo Moreno – the province's capital – offers easy access to attractions like Frigatebird Hill (where you can hike andbird-watch) and Kicker Rock (a rock formation that stands 460 feet tall). Some of the island's best surfing beaches (think:La Loberiaand Punta Carola) also sit nearby,

    ...Read More »
  • #11
    Sierra Negra Volcano (Isabela Island)
    View all Photos
    #11 in Galapagos Islands
    Hiking, Natural Wonders, Sightseeing
    TYPE
    Half Day to Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Hiking, Natural Wonders, Sightseeing
    TYPE
    Half Day to Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    Sierra Negra Volcano stands majestically over Isabela Island, rising nearly 4,500 feet high. Admirers far and wide are drawn to Sierra Negra to peer into its glowing fumaroles and expansive caldera; with a diameter of 6-plus miles, the crater reigns as the second largest on the planet. Though the volcano

    ...Read More »

Explore More of Galapagos Islands

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