Galapagos Islands Travel Guide

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Free Things To Do in Galapagos Islands

If you have extra time, Snorkeling & Diving is worthwhile.
  • #1
    Tortuga Bay (Santa Cruz Island)
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    #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 sight of the black turtles laying their eggs (hatchlings emerge and make their way to the sea between April and May). Even if you're not a turtle-lover, you can still get up close and personal with the other beach combers like marine iguanas and Sally Lightfoot crabs.

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  • #3
    La Loberia (San Cristóbal Island)
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    #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 Moreno on 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 and snorkel. Just be sure to stay a safe distance away from the sea lions; alpha males are known for being territorial and can be aggressive toward humans if they feel threatened.

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  • #4
    Snorkeling & Diving
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    #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 colorful tropical fish, sea horses and sharks, among other creatures.

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  • #6
    Bird-watching
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    #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 types of birds you won't see anywhere else (think: Galapagos penguins and Darwin's finches), not to mention other unique species like waved albatrosses and blue- and red-footed boobies.

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  • #7
    Puerto Ayora (Santa Cruz Island)
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    #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 its lively restaurants, shops and low-key nightclubs.

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  • #8
    Puerto Villamil (Isabela Island)
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    #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 and hotels. It is also a convenient spot to stay if you want to hike Sierra Negra Volcano, bike to the Wall of Tears or snorkel in Las Tintoreras', Los Tuneles' or Concha de Perla's waters.

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  • #9
    Charles Darwin Research Station (Santa Cruz Island)
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    #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 hundred educators, research assistants and volunteers. As you follow the paths, you can catch sight of numerous Galapagos giant tortoises. (Sadly, however, you won't spot Lonesome George, the sole survivor of the Pinta Island giant tortoise subspecies, who passed away in 2012.) Once you've gotten up close and personal with these fascinating creatures, head inside the museum to watch an informational video about the center's mission and conservation efforts.

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  • #10
    Puerto Baquerizo Moreno (San Cristóbal Island)
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    #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 and bird-watch) and Kicker Rock (a rock formation that stands 460 feet tall). Some of the island's best surfing beaches (think: La Loberia and Punta Carola) also sit nearby, and within town limits, you'll find a plethora of eateries, shops and hotels.

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