Visiting the Galapagos Islands: 5 Must-See Attractions
The Galapagos Islands are a natural paradise, a haven for wildlife that is as unspoiled today as it was when Charles Darwin first visited during his landmark trip on The Beagle, which became the basis for his famous theories of evolution. Okay, so the islands have changed a little since Darwin’s time, but to a large degree, they are still uninhabited by humans, leaving the many unique, endemic species that live there to flourish. As such, these gorgeous islands off the coast of Ecuador are a draw for international tourists. But don’t expect to get caught in the regular tourist traps when you visit. Shopping, night clubs, and other modern forms of entertainment can be found elsewhere in the world. When you travel to the Galapagos Islands, prepare to leave the hustle and bustle behind and take a step back in time with all the splendor the natural world has to offer. And if you’re worried about being entertained, here are a few must-see attractions to keep your mind occupied.
Reserva El Chato
This nature reserve near the town of Puerto Ayora hosts one of the best-known residents of the Galapagos Islands: the giant tortoises. When you visit, you’ll have the opportunity to hike or travel by horseback through the reserve, observing not only the lumbering tortoises but also many of the finches that Darwin famously studied. If you’re looking to get up close and personal with one of the most prominent species on the islands, this is one location you should definitely plan to visit on your trip.
Located on Tortuga Bay, also near Puerto Ayora, is one of the most spectacular beaches this island nation has to offer. It is a bit of a hike to reach, so prepare to hoof if and haul your gear in and out. But once you arrive you’ll enjoy white sand beaches, unparalleled vistas, and the opportunity to spot some incredible wildlife, including marine iguanas (found only on the Galapagos Islands) and the blue-footed booby. If you’re lucky, you might catch the latter engaging in an elaborate mating dance for which the species is known.
These incredible natural structures, found near Puerto Villamil, were created when hot lava poured into the ocean and rapidly cooled into a series of underwater plateaus and arched bridges that protrude from the water’s surface. The result is what could pass for a series of tunnels, which much of the local wildlife finds attractive. You’ll want to don your snorkeling equipment or scuba gear when you visit Los Tuneles, although you can also take boat tours. Just remember to bring your camera to document sightings of sharks, dolphins, turtles, penguins, rays, and more.
North Seymour Island
Located off Baltra, this uninhabited island is one you shouldn’t miss when you visit the Galapagos Islands. The landscape is vastly different from the white sand beaches you’ll find on other islands. It is punctuated by rocky outcroppings and dense brush thanks to the fact that it was formed by lava pushing up from the ocean floor. The result is a small island that features a short hiking trail, abundant wildlife, and little else. You’ll get a chance to see iguanas, seals, and a plethora of bird species when you spend a few hours on this remote island.
There is no shortage of places to go when visiting the Galapagos, and your best bet to see the sights may be to cast a wide net with help from the travel specialists at Nature Galapagos & Ecuador. Tour guides can show you the best the islands have to offer, ensuring that you hit all the high points and enjoy a trip that is chock-full of must-see attractions.