Your possibilities for Galapagos tours are almost limitless. Whether you’re looking for a luxury cruise, a land based Galapagos tour, a tour with kids, adventure, nature or relaxation, you can find it. However, it’s good to know what you want before you go. The archipelago is large and spread out, you cannot easily go from one corner to the other at the Galapagos Islands. Furthermore, the tourist quota could limit your options for last minute plans. Therefore, more than anywhere else in Ecuador, it’s best to plan your trip to the Galapagos Islands well in advance. Through the rest of Ecuador, it’s easier to be more flexible in your vacation planning.
Generally, we customize our services. So, we will not list standard vacation packages or tours to which you are limited in your choices. We recommend looking at the activities page to get a better idea about what would be interesting to you.
At this page, we’ll share ideas of what a tour or vacation package on the Galapagos Islands could look like. Most people combine the Galapagos Islands with something else in Ecuador. For instance, a Galapagos and Amazon jungle tour. Or the Galapagos in combination with the Andes or the Pacific coastal area, etc. You will find plenty of information about other destinations within Ecuador at our website. This page only focused on the Galapagos Islands.
A cruise is the most efficient way to tour the Galapagos islands. If you wake up in the morning, the cruise has taken you to another island through the night. You can see a lot of the archipelago in only a few days. Everything will be arranged for you. You don’t need to worry about any vacation planning. It does have two downsides though. First, programs are fixed. You could pick a different cruise, but the cruise will not change its program for each individual tourist. Second, It’s more expensive.
Land based Galapagos tours are a good alternative. You could decide to pick one of the main islands. You can easily spend a week on one island without getting bored. There are ferries which bring you from one larger island to another. However, you need to realize that the crossing easily takes half a day. Furthermore, there are plenty of day trips to nearby islands. The upsides are that you will have a bit more flexibility and that it’s cheaper. However, the truth remains that with a cruise you can see more in less time.
We can break tours through the Galapagos down to 4 types. However, in practice it’s often a mix of the 4 in some shape or form: adventurous and sporty, luxurious and relaxing, exploring nature and a family vacation with kids.
Exploring nature is what each tour in the Galapagos Islands in essence is about. It’s the endemic nature that makes this archipelago so special. In fact, if you are not interested in the experience of being surrounded by the Galapagos Islands’ extraordinary endemic nature, you could better find another holiday destination.
Taking tours to explore nature at the Galapagos Islands is highly recommended. If you just stroll around the islands, you’ll already see impressive wildlife such as giant turtles, finches, iguanas, sea lions and you can even spot the sharks swimming in the clear waters. However, on a tour, you’ll get so close to nature that it’s an unforgettable experience. Whether you go scuba diving, snorkeling, hiking, bird spotting or you want to sail with the dolphin or the whales, tours in the Galapagos Islands bring you close to the endemic nature.
The Galapagos Islands are an absolute Valhalla for scuba divers and snorkelers. For the die-hards, there are cruises which do nothing else for over a week. However, most multi day tours combine this with other activities. We’d recommend to, at least, go snorkeling once, no matter your experience. Finding a tour which facilitates this is not going to be hard. No matter your level, tours take you by boot to the best places to swim with amazing sea life.
There are hikes for all levels. Paths to some beautiful beaches such as Tortuga bay, are great hikes already. Several hikes you can do on your own. However, for an impressive hike such as to the top of the Sierra Negra volcano, you can only go with a guide.
The same applies for canoeing. You can rent canoes at beaches and you will have a great time. However, if you want to discover truly special places on the Galapagos Islands, you’d best take a tour with a guide.
The Galapagos Islands are great for surfing. However, you could easily do this on your own. We’d recommend taking tours for other activities and just plan some time at the surf beaches outside of any tours.
If you seek relaxation and luxury, you will find this at the Galapagos as well. You could book a hotel on land with everything you can expect from a luxurious hotel, such as a spa, great food, a swimming pool and amazing beaches close by. You can combine this with some day tours.
However, a multi day tour on a luxury cruise would probably be the better option. It will take you from island to island. You can decide to go on land, go into the water or just stay on the deck. Directly from the ship, you will already spot impressive marine life, land life and birds. The luxurious cruises come with good food and very comfortable cabins.
The Galapagos are not a typical family holiday destination. Nevertheless, it’s very well suitable. It also depends on the age and the interest of the children. With a family, we would recommend a holiday on land rather than a cruise. That would give you more flexibility. You can book individual day tours instead.
There are plenty of suitable hotels with swimming pools and great beaches close by. Activities such as kayaking and snorkeling are enjoyable for most kids. Also, many kids enjoy seeing the giant land turtles and the sea lions.
We believe that a tour should be fine tuned to the interest of the individual tourist as much as possible. Of course, if you join a group tour the activities of that tour are very much fixed. However, which tours you do day to day are up to you. However, to be more specific and give you an idea of what to expect, we listed 3 examples of tours at the Galapagos Islands below.
The first example of a tour through the Galapagos Islands is one per luxurious cruise. It takes 5 days, including an arrival and a departure day. So effectively, you will be for 3 full days and 4 nights on board the cruise ship. The cruise will be all inclusive. Meaning a luxurious private cabin, all meals and drinks, all tours, as well as an airport pick-up and drop-off. A luxurious cruise is the most comfortable way to explore the Galapagos Islands and you will see a lot in little time.
During the cruise, you will visit the Eden Islet, the Chinese Hat Islet, Sullivan Bay, Darwin Bay and Prince Philip’s steps. Activities will include glass-bottom boat rides and/or snorkeling, Panga rides, walks, hikes and swimming. You will see a lot of sea life, birds and land animals. A cruise is probably the most efficient type of tour you’ll find at the Galapagos Islands.
In this example of a land-based tour at the Galapagos Islands, Isla Santa Cruz will be your base. This tour will take 5 days including departure and arrival as well. However, during the arrival day, there is still some time for activities in the afternoon.
You will spend 4 days at Santa Cruz and one full day at Bartolome Island. At Santa Cruz, you will visit the Charles Darwin Research center, several beaches such as Tortuga Bay, Lava tunnels, a range with giant turtles and las Grietas. At Bartolome, you can hike to the top to enjoy the impressive panorama and you will have the chance to snorkel among sea lions.
This cruise is fully dedicated to scuba diving. It’s for experienced divers who have their PADI already. It’s an 8 day, 7 nights tour. Including arrival and departure, so effectively, you’ll spend 6 full days at the cruise ship. You will be taken from one scuba diving hotspot to the other.
There is no better way to fully experience scuba diving at the Galapagos Islands. You will see sting rays, sea lions, sea turtles, several types of sharks and a lot of other fish. It will even include a night dive.