Renowned for their ecological diversity, The Galapagos Islands are a bucket-list destination for anyone in love with the exotic side of traveling. From gorgeous beaches to ancient tortoises, the Galapagos is a stunning show of nature at its finest. Despite their remote location, the intrigue has driven throngs of tourists over the years, threatening to destroy their delicate ecosystem and earning them a place on the "World Heritage Sites in Danger" list.
Most travelers will arrive by cruise ship with excursions to the islands carefully planned to avoid any undue disruption to the wildlife. Lately though, staying on the islands has become a more popular option, as crops of hotels and other accommodations have begun to pop up, some more intrusive than others. Here's a breakdown of the eco-friendly options that'll give you the best possible Galapagos experience, whether you prefer roughing it in nature or a luxe getaway replete with poolside bars and snappy room service.
97% of the Galapagos Islands are protected lands, which means absolutely zero human inhabitation, which means no camping. That said, there are a few campsites for those with an adventurous spirit. Many are privately owned, but will let you camp for a small fee or even free -- you’ll just have to ask the owners once you arrive!
Natural Habitat's Tortoise Camp
Found on the main island of Santa Cruz, the Tortoise Camp is an excellent place to stay for those that enjoy the finer side of camping, or glamping. Accommodation options include deluxe tree houses or bungalows, but rest assured, this is still about as close to nature as you can get. You’ll likely catch glimpses of the local tortoises that roam the property, though they move to lower ground during some parts of the year. Relax and marvel at the night sky, and let the sounds of nature lull you to sleep.
Galapagos Safari Camp
For hardcore hikers and campers, this will hardly be considered camping. Taking inspiration from luxe African safaris, the Galapagos Safari Camp offers cabins replete with large verandas and hammocks overlooking the ocean and the Santa Cruz highlands. The public areas include an opulent dining room with local cuisine cooked from produce grown on site. For adventure, roam around the 136-acre grounds and keep your eyes peeled for exotic birds and the occasional tortoise.
It’s not all luxe and decadence, but it is unique. At El Ceibo, you can sleep in a tree house — literally. Ceibo is the type of tree, and there are only three species left on the island. This particular one is over 300 years old. You can sleep in the tree house at the top, which is nice, open and comfortable. Or you can opt for the cave below, accessible by the trunk. The hotel is part of the Galapagos’ drive for ecotourism — you’ll notice the bar is made out of recycled beer bottles. The idea is to live comfortably while being green!
Finch Bay Eco Hotel
The very definition of “serenity,” for travelers who really want to get away from it all, this is your place. The Finch Bay Eco Hotel is a secluded, beachfront property, which offers breathtaking views of the night sky and fun interactions with local wildlife. The hotel owns several boats and yachts that can take you on guided excursions to islands complete and are there to cater to your every need.
The Iguana Crossing Boutique Hotel was designed with environmental responsibility in mind. Named after the nearby “iguana crossing” where the local iguanas migrate, this is an excellent port-of-call for all your other Galapagos excursions. Whether you chose to wander along the beach or lay poolside with a cocktails, the hotel has you covered.
Hotel Casa Blanca
Last but not least is the charming Casa Blanca. You’ll be mesmerized by the bright stucco building and the tasteful, yet quaint style of the rooms. The house is owned by three daughters who have grown the small hotel into a seven-bedroom bed and breakfast. Located on San Cristobal, the owners will gladly help you plan your trip around the island, as well as link you up with other eco-friendly tours to explore the islands.