Galapagos Islands Travel Guide for 50's
Posted on: 13 October 2018 by Dawn Richard
Galapagos Islands are true awe filled with lots of biodiversity. Many people see a trip to Ecuador's Galapagos Islands as a lifetime vacation which leaves lovely memories.
An overview of the country of Ecuador
Galapagos Islands are true awe filled with lots of biodiversity. Many people see a trip to Ecuador's Galapagos Islands as a lifetime vacation which leaves lovely memories. Given its exceptional geography, flora and fauna, each of the island gives completely different and unique trip experience. The group of islands offer a land filled with cool lava landscapes, green highlands with lush details, cactus forests and completed with perfect tropical beaches. The highlight of it all comes to view with the abundant wildlife that calls the islands home.
The best time for Galapagos Islands travel depends on your desired vacation experience. Generally, there is no best or worst time to visit due to the fact that the island group is located on the Equator. Hence, the weather therein makes it most suitable for travel all year round. The most popular and consequently most expensive times to visit are from June to August and mid-December to mid-January.
The US dollar is the official currency of Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands. There are few places to withdraw money on the Galápagos, but you won’t need much once on your cruise boat – just enough for drinks and tips. Compared to the mainland, you get much less bang for your buck in the Galapagos. Cash is preferred for most transactions – many restaurants and shops don't accept cards and some accommodations may not, either. So here's a tip to know while touring in Galapagos Islands; bring cash with you from the mainland in case your credit card isn’t accepted or the ATMs run out of bills.
Despite being a land filled with more animals one can imagine, getting around Galapagos and exploring the best of it requires going on cruises on boats. Another option, with increasing popularity, is to stay ashore in a hotel on one of the larger populated islands (Santa Cruz, San Cristóbal, or Isabela) and take day trips to nearby uninhabited islands. However, resorting to this method requires the use of public transportations, speedboats, cabs or private drivers. While this option can be more economical and provides an interesting perspective for travelers, the range of islands that can be visited is limited by distance. Also, there are several animal species that likely will not be encountered on day trips.
Only four of the 13 major islands have full-time residents. So, many of the smaller islands are only accessible either through cruise tours or as a day trip from any one of the inhabited islands. An overview of some of the most popular islands shows that Santa Cruz is the main island in the archipelago, with the largest population at around 18,000 people. It has multiple ATMs, super markets, dozens of restaurants, and a shopping area all in the main town of Puerto Ayora.
Floreana is quite the opposite of Santa Cruz, with only 150 inhabitants and a few guest houses and restaurants. The unique tradition this island lets you experience includes transcends amazing landscape, wildlife, snorkeling spots, swimming, a black sand beach.
While Isabela is the largest of the islands in the Galapagos, it doesn't have as big of a population as Santa Cruz or San Cristobal. It has a beachy vibe with a long stretch of beach right off the main town alongside incredible snorkeling worth exploring in one excursion.
San Cristobal is the capital of the island where you can enjoy sea lion sightings along the coast at Cerro Brujo, visit the nearby freshwater lagoon for flamingo sightings, and stop at the tortoise breeding area in the highlands.
Espanola is one of the oldest islands in the archipelago with great snorkeling spots at Tortuga Rock and Gardner Island, where you can spot white-tip reef sharks.
Fernandina is the youngest of the islands rich in marine iguana colonies and sea birds, with a beautiful beach. Most notably, it is best location to spot the flightless cormorant.
Genovesa, a small uninhabited island, is located in the northern part of the archipelago. In this island, you'll find some of the most interesting Galapagos birds here, like Red-footed Boobies, Wedge-rumped Storm Petrels, and Short-eared Owls.
For panoramic views, uninhabited Bartolome, is your go to island. Here you'll find one of the most iconic rock formations in the islands—Pinnacle Rock—where you can swim and snorkel with penguins, sea lions, and sea turtles.
Top Sights & Activities
To truly explore an island requires going on a cruise or tour of the water and touring the Galapagos archipelago falls nothing short of that. The Galápagos' various islands are strikingly different with top sights and things to do. Some feature imposing active volcanoes, while others flaunt idyllic beaches and remote wildlife reserves. Some of such top sights to behold and activities to partake in include:
Giant Tortoise Breeding Centers: You can see various prehistoric-looking tortoises at the Charles Darwin Research Center in Santa Cruz, the Galapagos Interpretation Center in San Cristobal or at the less crowded and more interesting breeding center in Puerto Villamil on Isabela.
Explore the Gardner Bay: This is one of the most picturesque in all of the Galapagos Islands, where you will find a pristine white sandy beach with turquoise waters.
Bike around the Wetlands, Isabela Island: Explore along the coastline, on bike, the wetlands to see tortoises, marine iguanas, and blue-footed boobies!
Explore the Walls of Tears which is one of the Galápagos Islands’ most interesting historical sites constructed by prisoners belonging to a penal colony on Isabela.
Hike to Tortuga beach and Tortuga bay: You can typically see white tip reef sharks and mantarays as well as plenty of shore birds and marine iguanas in the water and on the beach.
- Explore the Lava Tunnels in Santa Cruz Island and paddle along the rugged shoreline of the Galapagos and explore secret coves, mangrove estuaries and stunning beaches.
Wildlife has always been one of the main highlights in the Galapagos. However, one may decide to spend time in search of the Galapagos Tortoise and swimming with the penguins, there are unique one-of-a-kind landscapes the Islands holds you wouldn't want to miss. Some of these include stunning iconic formations such as the Pinnacle Rock, Kicker Rock and Darwin’s Arch. Also, there are amazing volcanoes such as Volcan de Azufre in Isabela Island and the Volcan Ecuador. Other notable landmarks include Lava tunnels in Santa Cruz, the Los Gemelos craters, Abingtonite of Pinta, the Blowhole in the north-east of Española.
Tours & Day Trips with cost
Most day trips and tours are specially designed to involve visits to uninhabited islands and islets in the archipelago. These tours provide a wide range of activities such as swimming, snorkeling, hiking and observation of flora and fauna under the supervision of a Galapagos naturalist guide. Some of these tours include:
Full Day Española Island
If you are an animal lover than this 9 hours day tour which costs up to $400 to Española Island is a must. Hike and snorkel in and around the island to observe iguanas, the famous Blue-footed Booby, sea lions, and many more animals in their natural habitats.
Full-Day Pinzon Island Snorkeling, Fishing and birdwatching Excursion
Uncover the diversity of the Galapagos on a full-day tour to Pinzon Island for up to $300. Observe a number of animals in their natural habitats such as sea lions, sea turtles, dolphins, and iguanas. Spend the day snorkeling and learning about the various animals that inhabit the islands. Do a bit of fishing and enjoy the fruits of your labor onboard before ending the tour with more wildlife observation en-route back to Santa Cruz island.
Bartolome Island And Sullivan Bay Visit
On this tour, you will get to take the most popular and famous landscape photo of Galapagos: Pinnacle Rock for up to $250. In addition to that, you will visit neighboring islands while observing wildlife.
North Seymour Tour
Approximately 7 hours of tour for $220 will bring you to explore and find active and dynamic colonies of blue-footed boobies and frigate birds on North Seymour Island.
For as much as $250, you can go on supervised scuba diving in Galapagos in the Beagle rocks, Punta Cormorant, Enderby, and Champion, Daphne minor, Cousins, Gordon Rocks.
Most places in Galapagos Islands have been toured and already known by both the locals and tourists. However, some places are yet to be explored for the beauty and the majestic experience it leaves one with. The Post Office Bay in Floreana is an intriguing spot few tourists know about. It was historically used for communication purposes for whaling boat sailors, who traveled for long periods of time, to send letters to their families.
Restaurants, Cafes and Bars to enjoy Ecuadorian dishes
Eating and drinking your way through the Galapagos Islands should not be surprising if it consists mostly of different sea foods. Seafood is fresh, plentiful and heavily featured on menus across the Galapagos. Some of the places to enjoy meals at different times of the day include:
- Galapagos Deli at Puerto Ayora that serves as a cafe where dessert, fast foods and vegetarian dishes are served.
- The Finch Bay Restaurant is a Hotel Restaurant, with contemporary setting and serves vegetarian dishes
- Booby Trap is considered to be the best restaurant in Isabela Island that serves Seafoods, American and South American dishes as well as vegetarian meals in a laid-back atmosphere.
- Los Kioskos on Santa Cruz Island is an open diner where the chepeast lobster, local and other cheap street seafood can be obtained.
- The Isla Grill a popular restaurant as well as a bar that offers everything from vegetarian dishes, seafood, ribs, and burgers to savory drinks.
- The Bongo Bar is the top hotspot in Puerto Ayora. Located on the second floor of a building on Avenida Darwin, it serves some of the best sushi in the Galapagos.
- Limón y Café is the most popular meeting place on Santa Cruz. It has a bar as well as wooden tables and serves ice-cold beer.
Dishes to try out
Surrounded by one of the richest marine ecosystems in the world, fish and seafood is widely available and mouth-wateringly fresh. Galapagos being part of Ecuador, sees its homes and restaurants commonly serve up hearty plates of rice, meat, Andean potatoes and other Ecuadorian staples. Some of these delicacies you should try out include:
Ceviche: As the Galapagos’s most famous dish, this dish can be said to be divine. Made with locally caught fish, shrimp, squid, crab, octopus or the islands’ famous lobster, Galapagos ceviche is a delectable balance of citrus, sweet, tangy and spicy flavours.
Another dish that utilizes the Galapagos’s succulent fruits of the sea is encebollado This is a pickled onion soup filled with yucca and albacore tuna (or sometimes other types of fish).
Cheap, filling and flavourful, seco is an Ecuadorian classic served in Galapagos restaurants and diners. Seco de pollo is made with chicken, seco de carne is beef, chivo is goat, and borrego or cordero is lamb.
Viche is a soup with a creamy peanut base with chopped vegetables and a white fish like corvina (sea bass), tilapia, or halibut.
Arroz marinero, or seafood rice is a favorite among travelers and locals alike.
People from all over the world visit the Galapagos Islands to see the extraordinary wildlife. In the evening, one can take a break from all the outdoor adventure in places that offer the best nightlife on the Galapagos. Although Puerto Ayora remains as the most active city at night, San Cristobal Island and even Isabela Island hold some interesting stops such as the Buganvilla, the Garrapata, La Panga, Casa Rosada and the Beto's Bar for some entertaining island nightlife.