Encompassing more than 55 islands, Galapagos is a warm-climate getaway that’s home to staggering biodiversity. Here’s how to make the most of three days on Charles Darwin’s favourite islands.
Day 1: Santa Cruz
As Galapagos’ most-populated island, Santa Cruz makes a great base for exploring the archipelago. Kickstart your trip with a morning tour of the island, which typically visit beaches and rock formations, and give you the chance to spot sea lions, sea turtles, pelicans, dog crabs, and golden rays. Some tours also include time to snorkel in Tortuga Bay or with the sea lions of La Lobería.
After lunch, head to the Charles Darwin Research Station in Puerto Ayora for an orientation in Galapagos geology and ecology; you’ll also see Galapagos tortoises at the breeding center. As the sun begins to set, pull up a chair at one of Puerto Ayora’s al fresco restaurants for a cocktail and some ceviche, a local specialty of citrus-marinated raw fish.
Day 2: Floreana
This morning, set sail for Floreana island, a popular day trip destination just south of Santa Cruz. Tours tend to include a speedboat ride across the Pacific Ocean in addition to time to swim at Black Beach—home to marine iguanas, Galapagos sea turtles, and giant rays—and a short history lesson at Post Office Bay, once used by 18th-century whalers to leave letters for passing ships to deliver to their families. During the journey there, keep your eyes peeled for pods of dolphins or a passing whale. If you’d rather stay on Santa Cruz, consider a day trip to the Santa Cruz Highlands to sea Galapagos tortoises in their natural habitats.
Day 3: Choose an Island
Santa Cruz is within day trip distance of several worthy Galapagos destinations. Head to Bartolome to hike to a volcanic outcrop and capture panoramic views of the surrounding islands, which are home to penguins and white-tipped reef sharks, or take a boat trip to North Seymour Island, where it’s possible to spot frigate birds, the iconic blue-footed boobies, and land iguanas.
If you’d like to see multiple islands in a single day, opt for an excursion to Santa Fe and South Plaza Islands. The former is home to land iguanas, sea lions, and several endemic species, while the latter is known for its diverse bird life, which encompasses swallow-tailed and lava gulls, frigate birds, masked and blue-footed boobies, pelicans, and red-tailed tropicbirds.