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What to See & Do in The Galapagos Islands

It is perhaps the constant on everyone’s bucket list of destinations. Set on the equator, 600 miles off the coast of Ecuador, the Galapagos Islands, the crown jewel of the natural world and the source for Darwin’s The Origin of Species, is the definition of awesome.

 

Visitors — who are limited in number by Ecuadorian law — are enchanted by virtually untouched nature, exotic wildlife and endless opportunities for adventure.

 

By: Maya Vandenberg

Enter Slideshow
  • Civilized Sights

    Civilized Sights

    To get to the Galapagos Islands, you’ll most likely fly through Guayaquil or Quito. And these two big Ecuadorian hubs are worth a few-days extension on your honeymoon. Visit Guayaquil’s iguana park (where the reptiles roam free in the city center) and the promenade, Malecón 2000, which overlooks the Guayas River. At night, walk the 400 steps that weave through colorful Las Peñas up to the top for an incomparable view of the city (you might have to wade through the crowd of merrymakers who occupy the steps most nights).

    Quito, Ecuador’s capital, is a lovely cosmopolitan city boasting a historic center with 40 cathedrals and chapels, 16 convents and monasteries and beautiful plazas.

    Photo Credit: Ecuador Ministry of Travel

  • Into the Wild

    Into the Wild

    Swimming with sea lions, scuba diving among hammerhead sharks, panga (a covered, flat-bottom boat) rides around Black Turtle Cove, horseback riding on Santa Cruz Island — any outdoor activity you can imagine is here, and you’ll definitely want to partake. Sure, taking two to three excursions a day may sound like a lot, but when there’s so much wildlife and landscape to see and endless activities on offer, you’ll want to take advantage of every precious snorkeling minute

    Whether you choose to visit the islands via a cruise or to stay at a lodge on land, your hosts can arrange an itinerary that showcases the best of the Galapagos.

    Photo Credit: Ecuador Ministry of Travel

  • Into the Wild

    Into the Wild

    Also look for the Galapagos white-tipped shark, the small Galapagos penguin often seen around the rocky shoreline of Santiago Island, the marine-land iguana hybrids on South Plaza Island and the renowned giant tortoises at the Wild Land Tortoise Reserve in the highlands of Santa Cruz Island. Also, while here, stop at the Charles Darwin Research Center in Puerto Ayora to learn about the restoration efforts taking place.

    Photo Credit: Ecuador Ministry of Travel

  • Into the Wild

    Into the Wild

    The biggest allure of the Galapagos Islands is the plethora of uber-rare animal and plant species. Since they’ve neither been hunted nor threatened and the number of visitors is strictly enforced, the animals have no fear of humans, meaning you can get up close and personal. Just keep your hands to yourself when you’re within a few feet of red- and blue-footed boobies on Tower Island or sea lions on Sombrero Chino.

    Photo Credit: Ecuador Ministry of Travel

  • Signed, Sealed, Delivered

    Signed, Sealed, Delivered

    Don’t miss a visit to Post Office Bay on Floreana Island, which was set up by British whalers to send letters home via passing ships. To this day people leave postcards in the barrel with only an address and no stamp with the hope that someone will hand-deliver them. Drop in your own postcard, but don’t forget to pick one to hand-deliver yourselves.

    Photo Credit: Ecuador Ministry of Travel

  • High Camp

    High Camp

    While cruising around the islands is wildly popular, for a high-end land experience you may want to set up camp on a single island. The eco-friendly Galapagos Safari Camp on Santa Cruz Island is one such rustic, luxe outpost, with just nine guest tents. Each breezy canvas structure comes equipped with all the fixings, including en-suite bathrooms and private patios with hammocks and Pacific Ocean views.

    Photo Credit: Galapagos Safari Camp

  • High Camp

    High Camp

    Inside the luxurious accommodations.

    Photo Credit: Galapagos Safari Camp

  • High Camp

    High Camp

    When you aren’t nature safari-ing, you can soak in the view from the picturesque infi nity pool or enjoy a special honeymoon moment at the private viewpoint, where the staff will set up a sunset champagne picnic (room rates start at $535 a night and include breakfast and dinner; galapagossafaricamp.com).

    Photo Credit: Galapagos Safari Camp

  • Two if By Sea

    Two if By Sea

    The best way to see the islands of the Galapagos in all their natural glory is with a cruise, and Quasar Expeditions, a premier luxury South American operator, has been traversing these waters for more than 25 years. The first company to introduce smaller luxury yachts (which make getting in and around the islands a cinch) boasts the newly refurbished 32-passenger M/V Evolution. Quasar offers twice-daily excursions — hiking Floreana Island and snorkeling around Santa Fe Island — with dedicated naturalists.

    Photo Credit: Guasar Expeditions

  • Two if By Sea

    Two if By Sea

    Book into Stateroom 1A for the most spacious accommodations plus an upper deck that affords gorgeous views at all times (stateroom rates start at $5,080 per person for a seven-night sailing and include all meals and activities; quasarexpeditions.com).

    Photo Credit: Guasar Expeditions

What to See & Do in The Galapagos Islands

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