As remote as they are stunning, the Galápagos Islands – which are located approximately 620 miles west of the South American continent – are a part of Ecuador and boast some of the most unique wildlife on the planet. Three years before Charles Darwin zeroed in on the Galápagos while traveling aboard his ship, The Beagle, Ecuador claimed the Galápagos as its own. That was back in 1832. Since then, the islands have hosted penal colonies and more recently – in the 1950s – were made a national park. Today, the Galápagos serve as a delightful port of call for people who want to learn more about biodiversity and wildlife in general.
Sightseeing & Things To Do
Since Charles Darwin made such an indelible stamp on the history of science with his theory of evolution – much of which was inspired by the Galápagos Islands – people have been drawn back again and again to this remote archipelago. If you are lucky enough to be on a ship that stops here, make sure not to miss out. From giant turtles to sea lions and penguins, you will create long lasting memories when you explore the Galápagos Islands.
Thanks to its incredibly diverse assortment of wildlife and plant life, the Galápagos Islands are a delightful place to explore. During an expedition or a cruise, most ships stop frequently in order to give passengers an idea about the sheer quantity of spectacular sights. Some of the highlights include:
The island of Bartoleme is a popular stop for many ships that travel through the Galápagos. The main attraction here is the large hill, which people are fond of climbing in order to take in panoramic and incredibly scenic views of the surrounding area. From that lofty height, you can look down upon a multitude of penguins, sea lions and other creatures as they play and frolic down below. It’s just one of those sights that you don’t get to see everyday, and one that will always stick with you.
Another very popular stopping point for ships traveling through the Galápagos Islands is Punta Espinoza. The main attraction here is a bird that was one of the primary focuses of Charles Darwin. Indeed, the flightless cormorant was the basis for much of Darwin’s theory of evolution. By visiting Punta Espinoza, you can see this amazing animal up close and learn more about how it inspired Darwin.
The white sandy beaches of Las Bachas are a very well regarded part of the Galápagos Islands. If your cruise ship makes a stop here, be sure to check out the Pacific Green turtles that inhabit this lovely spot. Assuming you are on an expedition cruise, your guides should be able to fill you in about these magnificent animals.
Charles Darwin Research Center
Fittingly enough, the main research and educational facility on the Galápagos Islands is called the Charles Darwin Research Center. If your cruise ship stops here, be sure to take a good look at the Giant Turtle Breeding Center, where scientists hope to keep this gentle creature from becoming completely extinct.
Unlike many popular cruise destinations, the Galápagos Islands are not overrun with tourist shops and major shopping centers. However, if there is one area amid these islands where you should focus any shopping excursions, it is Puerto Ayora. This is the largest town on the Galápagos and has the highest concentration of shops. Remember, though, that being in the Galápagos is more about immersing yourself in nature than shopping until you drop.
Best Souvenir To Bring Back To the Cruise Ship
Recycling is a hugely important activity in the Galápagos Islands, and there are plenty of souvenirs that are made out of recycled materials. Some of the best – and cutest – examples are the stuffed animals made out of recycled good. From sea lions to giant turtles, there are many great options to choose from.
Eating – Sample the Local Cuisine
Since the Galápagos Islands are primarily used to educate people about the amazing diversity of wildlife, they are not exactly a hotbed of culinary delights. For the most part, the food that can be found here revolves around seafood and organic, locally produced things. You’re definitely not going to find a fast food restaurant on the Galápagos Islands.
When, Where, and How
When To Go
November, December, May and June are generally agreed to be the very best months to visit the Galápagos Islands. It should be noted, though, that different times of year offer different sights and attractions. Many find that winters are just as enjoyable as summers in these eclectic and intriguing islands. In other words, virtually any time is a good time to be in the Galápagos.
Where You’re Docked
Ships dock at several different points within the archipelago of the Galápagos Islands. From Puerto Egas to Las Bachas, there are several places where ships may stop along their way in and around these stunning islands.
Which Cruise Ships Go Here?
Only a small fraction of cruise lines include stops at the Galápagos Islands; however, more and more are adding it to their itineraries. One of the most popular cruise lines that stops in the Galápagos Islands is Celebrity Cruises, whose Xpedition is a popular choice. Lindblad Expeditions and National Geographic also do many Galápagos Cruises. There are also other options available in terms of ships, dates, days in port and at sea when it comes to the Galápagos.