by Gemma Harris
If you have struck gold with an adventurous, Pacific itinerary then you will no doubt stumble upon the Galapagos Islands. The islands are a province of Ecuador and are about 1000km off South America, they are some of the most biodiverse lands in the world with an incredible array of landscapes and wildlife. If you are even more lucky and have the odd day off here then be sure to use it wisely.
1. Get under the water
This is a must in the Galapagos, it boasts some of the best scuba diving in the world. If you aren’t into diving then snorkelling is just as good here. Off San Cristobal island is Kicker Rock, a top spot for swimming with sea lions, turtles and hammerhead sharks. Be sure to wear a wetsuit and take a camera.
2. Be amazed by the wildlife
Always keep an eye out in the Galapagos, above and below the water, everywhere you look you will spot something amazing. With blue footed boobies and frigate birds flying above you, Galapagos penguins eyeing you from a rock, sea lions…well, everywhere, turtles popping up their heads, Giant tortoises wandering the lands, marine iguanas basking in the sunshine and colourful crabs down at the beach. It is a true Blue Planet, live kind of scene.
3. Don’t miss out on the beaches
If you think of tropical, white sandy beaches the Galapagos Islands are not usually top of the list but they should be. As well as a huge variety of wildlife the islands are also home to some amazing beaches. Especially Tortuga Bay and El Garrapatero on Santa Cruz.
4. Visit La Loberia
A trip to the Galapagos isn’t complete until you have swum with the curious sea lions. On San Cristobal, this rocky beach is home to playful sea lion colony, both on the beach and in the water. They are amazing creatures to watch, be sure to stay a safe distance away but there are plenty around to get some good photos.
5. Trek up a volcano
The Galapagos isn’t just about under water activities, it offers a huge amount of land adventures. Its volcanic landscape is amazing and there are plenty of hiking opportunities.
From hiking calderas, discovering lava formations, walking through dense forests to discovering freshwater lakes. In particular, get a guide and check out the Santa Cruz highlands.
6. Hang out with giant tortoises
Head to the El Chato tortoise reserve on Santa Cruz in the highlands and see these huge lumbering tortoises in their own habitat. These roaming grounds are one of the few places where you can see these animals in their natural habitat.
7. Learn and be astonished
Don’t leave the Galapagos until you have learnt about the islands. In Puerto Baquerizo Moreno is the Interpretation Centre. This centre is well worth a visit, it explains the history and significance of the Islands. Back onboard you will also have a guide so be sure to speak to them about the islands too.
8. Catch some waves
It’s not all about the wildlife and landscapes, the Galapagos is also a great surf destination. San Cristobal is the best spot for surfing with Tongo Reef and Carola Point to check out on your time off.
9. Be respectful
We are all responsible when it comes to looking after our planet. If you get to visit the Galapagos then be sure to be respectful. Keep a good distance away from the wildlife to avoid disturbing them. The National Park is designed to safeguard the unique flora and fauna of the islands so stick to the rules and leave as little trace as possible on the islands. Acknowledge the locals and tour guides and listen to how you should act throughout your time here.
10. Take a boat trip…
On a day off?! Sure, anywhere else in the world and this would seem slightly ridiculous given the nature of a yachties day job but the Galapagos is an incredible place for a boat trip. It is the perfect way to island hop, get to the best diving spots, beach hop and just generally see the islands. Plus, someone else will be doing the driving, chamoising the serving…