One of the most popular ways to see Ecuador’s famous Galapagos Islands is certainly by cruise. Although it’s possible to island-hop via ferry, spending the night in hotels on land, the travel element takes up a lot of time, and a cruise is certainly the more luxurious option.
With so many cruise options out there, ranging from three to fourteen nights, it’s easy to see all that the Galapagos archipelago has to offer. Here are just a few of the most spectacular Galapagos Cruise highlights…
Meet giant tortoises at the Charles Darwin Research Station
Many cruises will arrange a stop at the Charles Darwin Research Station, a biological research station operated by the Charles Darwin Foundation. The station carries out important research, as well as working on the conservation of the islands. It contains an information centre, an informative museum, a baby-tortoise house with incubators and a walk-in adult tortoise enclosure, where visitors will come face to face with the Galápagos giants.
Incredible Wildlife in Darwin’s ‘Living Laboratory’
The Galapagos are known for one thing; the abundance of wildlife. On a cruise around the islands, you can expect to meet 100 year old giant tortoises, sea turtles, whales, dolphins and sea lions. On the colder coasts, you’ll also find penguins. Other birds include Darwin’s Finches, frigatebirds, albatrosses, gulls, boobies, pelicans and Galápagos Hawks, as well as the Flightless Cormorant – an interesting bird that has lost the ability to fly. On land, you’ll spot iguanas, lava lizards, geckos and other harmless snakes, as well as Galapagos Mice (or Rice Rats) and marine iguanas – the only species of iguana adapted to life in the sea.
Get Splashed at El Soplador blow hole
The El Soplador blow hole on Española is just one of many impressive natural sights around the Galapagos. It’s a natural phenomenon produced by underground tunnels which start in coral reefs and end in a hole several meters from the water. When the tide rises and a wave gets into the tunnels, it throws the compressed air through the hole, with an effect a little like a geyser.
Snorkel with Sea Lions
With a fantastic abundance of sea life and stunning natural coral, the Galapagos is a fantastic area for snorkelling. Many cruises provide snorkel and dive equipment, and the experience is sure to be so good you’ll want to repeat it daily! On a typical day snorkelling, you can expect to see common reef fish, such as parrot fish, brightly coloured wrasses and schools of surgeonfish, as well as stingrays and sea turtles. If you’re a little luckier, you may also encounter a sea lion, white-tipped reef shark, hammerhead shark, spotted eagle and manta rays, an octopus or even a penguin.
With so many amazing things to see and do, and fantastic experiences to be had, a cruise in the Galapagos is surely on everyone’s bucket list.
Have you been to the Galapagos? Share your highlights in the comments!