10 Must-See Things On Your Galapagos Island Vacation

By: Stuart Smith

The Galapagos Islands are fascinating volcanic islands that are home to several unique species. They are famed because of the work that Charles Darwin did there, which contributed to his development of the evolution theory. These days, the Galapagos Islands remain a popular tourist destination for biology enthusiasts as well as those who simply want to take advantage of the beautiful beaches. Here are 10 things to see if you decide to visit the Galapagos.


1. Tortoises

The famous symbol of the Galapagos Islands is the enormous tortoise. Reaching weights of nearly 900 pounds and living over 150 years in captivity, these truly are magnificent creatures, and seeing them in their own territory is an absolute must if you’re going to be in the Galapagos.

2. Charles Darwin Research Station

If you have an interest in science, you’ll certainly want to visit this and learn some of Darwin’s observations and how his work continues on the islands today, particularly in regard to preserving the many species that are unique to these islands. Based on Santa Cruz Island, the site is usually included in tours of the islands.

3. Birdwatching

While tortoises are the islands’ most famous residents, many fascinating winged creatures reside there as well. Cormorants, frigatebirds and albatrosses are among the types of birds you can see, along with 13 species of tanagers. Bring your binoculars and see how many different kinds you can spot.

4. Scuba Diving

If you are more interested in the water than the air, suit up to take a peek below the ocean surface. The marine life is abundant and eye-catching, and scuba diving is a popular pastime in this natural haven. The water in this largely untouched part of the world is clear down to a depth of 80 feet in some places, making for excellent viewing. However, diving here is recommended only for those who are already experienced.


5. Lava Tubes

Santa Cruz Island boasts these fascinating structures, which were formed from lava. These long cave-like channels have an eerie beauty all their own. Visitors are free to explore them by themselves, but for some insight on how they were formed and a look at some of the most interesting structures, you can take a guided tour from a knowledgeable guide.

6. Chinese Hat

Part of the appeal of this island near Santiago lies in its tiny size, which is less than a tenth of a square mile. The volcanic formations are impressive to behold, and you can swim and snorkel there if you so choose. It’s also a great place to catch a glimpse of penguins, iguanas and sea lions.

7. Tortuga Bay

If you love beaches, you won’t want to miss Tortuga Bay, one of the most popular destinations in the Galapagos. Crystal-clear water and soft, bright sand combine with abundant wildlife to make it perfect for sight-seeing, and the swimming in calm areas is outstanding as well.

8. The Wall of Tears

This landmark in Puerto Villamil is best explained by a local tour guide who can regale you with information along the pathway that leads to it. While the wall itself is interesting, most visitors enjoy this primarily for the trail leading to it and the variety of animals that they see there, ranging from turtles to flamingos.

9. Las Loberias

If watching sea lions with their pups is something that interests you, then Las Loberias is the destination of choice. Spend the day on the beach watching the babies interact with their parents, or go swimming with the friendly sea lions. Be careful, as the larger male sea lions can be aggressive to humans. You should keep a safe distance to sea lions making aggressive movements and sounds. This is a great beach just to enjoy watching the scenery.


10. Los Gemelos

Also on Santa Cruz are these twin sink holes, which are surrounded by a lush wooded area. Getting there can be a challenge, so be sure to ask for precise directions, but the view is worth it, especially since you may also get to see such fascinating wildlife as the vermillion flycatcher.