With the Galapagos Islands many islands, it would be ideal to take an extended trip so you can visit them all. Between the active volcanoes, idyllic beaches, and wildlife reserves, you surely don’t want to miss any of it.
However, if your time is limited and you want to see the most popular and sought-after spots first, here are the top 10 things to do when you visit the Galapagos
1. Meet the Giant Tortoises
Prided as the symbol of the Galapagos Islands, these magnificent creatures can weigh up to 900 pounds and live for over 150 years in captivity. Take a trip to El Chato Tortoise Reserve and meet the iconic giant tortoises of the Galapagos in person.
2. Tropical Bird Watching
Aside from giant tortoises, the Galapagos Islands are home to 19 resident species of birds with 5 of them endemic. The Galapagos Islands is an absolute dream for bird lovers and naturalists. You’ll have the opportunity not only to see and photograph these birds but have the chance to get up-close as these wild animals are very comfortable with visitors to the islands.
3. Los Gemelos (Twin Sink Holes)
Located in the highlands of Santa Cruz Island, Los Gemelos is surrounded by lush, green vegetation called Scalesia forests. This is also where you can find the famous Vermillion flycatcher and such fascinating wildlife such as the short-eared owls.
The “Twins” are often referred to as craters but their formation was due to the collapse of the land beneath and not the eruption of the volcano. Nevertheless, its beauty is still undeniable with its geologic structures and lush green forest in contrast with the black and gray volcanic walls. You can catch a sight of Los Gemeleos in a standard Galapagos land tour.
4. Snorkeling and scuba diving
If you’re an aquatic enthusiast, the Galapagos boasts an incredible diversity of marine wildlife, scuba diving, and snorkeling is a must when visiting Santa Cruz, San Cristobal, and Isabela Islands. With beautifully colorful fishes, playful penguins and even sea lions, the underwater utopia can be just as alluring as the world above it. There are plenty of Galapagos trips involving diving activities: Liveaboard Diving Curises and Galapagos Hotel-Based Diving Tours.
5. Sta. Cruz Lava tubes
Beautiful tunnels formed by lava that flowed downslope and cooled forming an insulating crust that kept the interior lava hot and running. As the eruption subsided, the molten lava drained out of the end leaving a hollow chamber that are kilometers long. Explore these fascinating structures and marvel at Mother Nature’s work. It’s best to explore with a guide and be sure to bring sturdy shoes as it can be slippery inside and some areas may require some crawling.
6. Bahía Tortuga (Turtle Bay)
With crystal-clear waters, pearly white sands and abundant wildlife, it’s no wonder Bahía Tortuga is one of the most popular destinations in the Galapagos. But people don’t go to Tortuga Bay just to play beach games and get a tan; travelers visit isolated parts of the beach to witness black turtles lay eggs for the month of November and February. These eggs hatch and baby black turtles make their way to sea between June and July.
7. La Loberia
Located on San Cristobal Island, this sea-lion filled beach is another must-see tourist attraction. You can spend the day watching baby sea lions play or even swim with the beach’s residents. But if sea lions aren’t your interest, the beach is also home to some fascinating creatures such as iguanas and frigates.
8. Charles Darwin Research Center
Stationed at Santa Cruz Island and operated by the Charles Darwin Foundation, the research center is a must-see for travelers fascinated in Charles Darwin’s works. Equipped with an active breeding center and informative displays, the facility strives to create awareness in the preservation of the many species unique to the islands.
9. Los Tuneles a.k.a Cabo Rosa
Expect to see the famous Galapagos Penguins and Blue-Footed Boobies when you tour Los Tuneles which is a series of small islets located near Isabel Island. Apart from marveling over the emerald waters, you’ll also have the pleasure of seeing other wildlife such as marine iguanas, white tip sharks, sea lions and even Galapagos turtles.
10. Hike at Sierra Negra Volcano
The Sierra Negra is one of the most active volcanoes in the Galapagos, with the last eruption in 2005. You aren’t likely to see any lava flowing, but you will have the opportunity to explore thermal vents, the landscape of lava fields, fumaroles, and other captivating geologic features. Stop for a snack near Volcan Chico.