The Galapagos Islands are among the most diverse ecological areas of the world, and home to plant and animal species you won’t see anywhere else. It is also a protected site with strict guidelines regulating tourism. There are limits on the number of travelers who can come to the islands at one time, and it’s not easy or inexpensive to travel there – but completely worth it. If you plan to head to Galapagos, you have a few options for where you stay.
Travelers have the option of either booking a cruise or staying on one of the islands. Either way, you will fly to mainland Ecuador first as there are no international flights to the islands. Galapagos cruises can be expensive, but they allow you to cover a lot of ground without much hassle. The other option is to stay on one of the archipelago’s inhabited islands. The land-based option is great for saving money and gives travelers the freedom to set their own schedules. Staying on land means you will need to travel by speedboat when you want to move from island to island. This can be challenging, as departure times are often limited and the rides long and choppy. However, it is well worth it to see several of the islands since each have their own wildlife and ecology. There are four islands where travelers can find lodging options.
Santa Cruz is the second-largest and most populated of the inhabited islands. Because it is where the bulk of Galapagos residents live, this island is a good choice for visitors who want easy access to conveniences like restaurants, markets, and shops. There are many hotels and other lodging options on Santa Cruz, and plenty to see and do. It is home to the Charles Darwin Research Station, the base for studies on the ecology of the islands. Tortuga Bay is a popular spot for wildlife-watching, as it is hosts a large population of marine iguanas. The island also houses a Galapagos Tortoise reserve. For other outdoor adventures, you can visit the lava tunnels, swim at Las Grietas, or go scuba diving at Gordon Rocks.
San Cristobal, the easternmost of the Galapagos Islands, is comprised of several extinct volcanoes that fused together. It is a fertile land of lush vegetation, and a prime spot for viewing sea lions and birdlife. San Cristobal is a quieter option than Santa Cruz, but there are plenty of places to stay and amenities on the island.
Isabela is the largest island of the archipelago, and home to several active volcanoes. Despite its large size, Isabela is not as populated as San Cristobal or Santa Cruz. There are fewer amenities and lodging options on Isabela, which makes it an inviting option for travelers who are looking to get away from it all.
Floreana is the prime option for really going off the grid. It is the least populated of the inhabited islands and has little or no cell phone or wifi coverage. There are only a few options for overnight accommodations on the island. There are a couple of lodges, and some residents rent rooms from their homes.
Whether you are land- or sea-based during your stay, there is plenty to see and do in the Galapagos Islands. Getting there will take some time, can be pricey, and requires months of planning. However, you will get to experience a magical place unlike anywhere else on earth, and it is well worth the effort to make the trip.