Last year when I was visiting Ecuador, I spent a week in the Galapagos Islands. Known for being an archipelago full of exotic animals such as sea lions, giant turtles, marine and land iguanas, blue footed boobies, penguins, frigate birds, and hammerhead sharks, just to name a few, the Galapagos can’t bore anyone at any age. The islands also offer many amazing activities that you can do in incredible surroundings.
Here are some of my favorite activities that should convince you to visit the Galapagos if you’re still hesitating!
Simply wait for the sea lions to greet you in Puerto Ayora
Puerto Ayora might seem not like a top destination as it’s usually just a jump-off point for cruises. However, this doesn’t mean that the town doesn’t offer any interesting attractions. It’s actually quite the opposite; I found it incredible. The moment I arrived in Puerto Ayora and walked around the city, I was greeted by sea lions chilling on the streets and even sitting on benches.
Swim with water tortoises off the coast of Isabela Island
I would have never imagined that this activity could actually be done in a real life and not only in the movies. I was taken on a small boat and thrown into the water with my snorkeling gear. Once in the water, I was instructed by my guide to grab a water tortoise and dive with him. It was like being pulled by a small motor! I highly recommend this amazing experience.
Take a tour to one of the smaller islands to spot Blue Footed Boobies
Blue Footed Boobies are one of the most famous inhabitants of the Galapagos. Where else in the world can you can see a bird with blue feet? The birds aren’t easy to spot, but I managed to see a couple when visiting a tiny island of Plazas. Plazas Island is actually worth visiting not only to see Blue Footed Boobies, but also because of its incredible land with red sand and cacti. It looks very similar to Socotra Island off the coast of Yemen.
Jump from the waterfall in Las Grietas
Las Grietas is a canyon surrounded by rocks, famous for cliff jumping and snorkeling. It’s a must see spot located on Santa Cruz Island. It’s not easy to find on your own, but if your Spanish is good enough, you can easily ask some locals how to find the place. The way to get there isn’t easy; one should expect jumping from one lava rock to the other.
Chill on the beach with iguanas
Many visitors describe the Galapagos as a kind of real life Jurassic Park. Everywhere you go you can find iguanas relaxing on the streets and beaches. I had a chance to sit on the beach among at least twenty iguanas trying to play with me. You have to be careful though because you’re not supposed to touch them. However, one actually managed to touch me. While sitting with the land iguanas, you can observe the unique Galapagos marine iguanas swimming or napping on the volcanic rocks. If you want to hang out with iguanas, my personal recommendation would be to go to Las Tortugas Beach, considered one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. It’s quite a hike to get there, but it’s definitely worth it!
Snorkel with sea lions on Isabela Island
Sea lions are one of the most common species on the Galapagos and as I mentioned before, they are quite easy to spot. There are even a few places where you can snorkel with them. The best spot, in my opinion, is on Isabela Island. Sea lions are extremely playful and love interacting with humans as long as there aren’t any young pups in their community.
Buy your dinner at local fish market
While walking through Puerto Ayora, the first thing that catches your attention is the fish market located right next to the pier. When local fishermen begin to unload the fish, groups of pelicans and sea lions come around to wait for fish to steal. If you’re lucky you can also spot crabs in their catch. While attending this amazing spectacle, you can also purchase fresh fish to eat for dinner.
Visit the Charles Darwin Centre
The Charles Darwin Centre cannot be missed, especially because it’s free! The Galapagos tortoise located there is the largest of the living tortoise species and there aren’t that many of them left. Although all of the animals are kept in cages, you can see them from quite close up and hear them grunting.
About the author
Anna Lysakowska is a blogger at Anna Everywhere and editor at Flipit. She has visited more than 45 countries and lived in 7 cities, including Mexico City, Boston, London, Cape Town, Florence and Leiden. She studied journalism at Harvard, international law at Oxford Brookes, and obtained her Masters in Latin American Studies from Leiden University.