Anyone who has ever watched a nature documentary knows WHY they need to visit the Galapagos Islands, but most don’t realize just how easy and affordable it has become!
More and more local companies have established an online presence following the devastating impact the Covid-19 pandemic had on tourism in the Galapagos islands, making vacations there easier than ever before.
We spent two weeks exploring the Galapagos islands in April 2023, managing to visit 5 islands and cross almost every animal off of our proverbial “Galapagos Wildlife Bingo Cards.”
Below are what we consider the 10 best, most compelling reasons you need to visit the Galapagos islands for your next vacation.
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🦭 1. Unbeatable Wildlife Encounters
Undoubtedly the best reason to visit the Galapagos islands is for the truly astounding wildlife encounters and interactions you are guaranteed to have there.
Due to an evolutionary history without predation, the animals that inhabit the Galapagos are the tamest and most playful you will find anywhere in the world, especially the sea lions known locally as “the dogs of the sea”.
The animals are also quite predictable in terms of behavior, meaning you are nearly guaranteed to see whichever interests you most in their native habitats by simply knowing where to go!
🐢 READ MORE:
35 MOST ICONIC GALAPAGOS ISLANDS ANIMALS
🏝 2. Beautiful Tropical Beaches
The Galapagos Islands provide the perfect mix of vacation and adventure.
You can spend one day out on a boat exploring uninhabited islands and epic snorkel spots and the next day relaxing in the shade of a palm tree on a beautiful tropical beach… just be prepared to share that precious shade with the local wildlife!
A vacation needs to feel like a vacation, and the white sand beaches of Galapagos provide a place that does just that.
🏝️ DISCOVER MORE:
BEST BEACHES IN THE GALAPAGOS
☀️ 3. Perfect Climate Year-Round
Did you know that the Galapagos Islands are located in Ecuador and that the country is named for its latitudinal location (translating to “Equator”) in Spanish?
Being located directly along the equator means that the Galapagos climate is mostly perfect year-round.
There is some seasonality with the “hot & wet” season spanning half the year and the “cold & dry season” the other half. These seasons are created by the cold-water Humboldt current that flows up from Antarctica half the year and the Panama current that comes down from Central America the other half.
Both seasons are pleasant and even the “wet season” is mostly sunny with rain that comes in hard and fast, but leaves just as quickly. In other words, there is no bad time to visit the Galapagos!
☀️ READ THE COMPLETE GUIDE
BEST TIMES TO VISIT THE GALAPAGOS ISLANDS
💸 4. Surprisingly Affordable Holidays
Most people think that a vacation to the Galapagos islands is outside of their budget, but this could not be more wrong!
In fact, Galapagos is one of the most affordable tropical destinations in the world and caters to all people of all budgets, from backpackers to wealthy retirees.
If you are financially comfortable and prefer to travel with a bit of luxury, there are a variety of all-inclusive cruises available that combine elegance with adventure like you will only find in Galapagos.
On the flip side, backpacking the Galapagos islands is becoming increasingly popular with hostels readily available for as little as $15 per night!
No matter your budget or vision of the perfect vacation, you will find the right fit for you.
🔎 READ THE COMPLETE GUIDE
GALAPAGOS TRIP COST & BUDGET GUIDE
📸 5. Epic Vacation Photos
There is no other place in the world that will provide the photo opportunities you will encounter in Galapagos.
Whether that be an epic snap hanging out with one of the many local animal residents or the view from a spectacular vista, you are guaranteed to come home with your cell phone and memory cards filled up with once-in-a-lifetime memories.
Note that Galapagos National Park rules forbid you from approaching within 6 feet (2 meters) of an animal, but the animals will often come right up to you!
🔎 READ THE COMPLETE GUIDE
ULTIMATE GUIDE TO GALAPAGOS PHOTOGRAPHY
🐧 6. One-of-a-Kind Endemic Species
The Galapagos Islands are home to a variety of endemic animal species that are not found anywhere else on this planet.
For example, almost every island has its own sub-species of giant tortoise that evolved uniquely to meet the conditions present on that specific island.
In other words, the saddle-backed Galapagos tortoises found on San Cristobal island look completely different from the dome-shaped tortoises of Santa Cruz.
The marine iguanas you will see all over the place are the only species of iguana in the entire world that swim and even eat underwater!
Other incredible endemic species of Galapagos animals awaiting you are the Galapagos penguin (the only penguins found in the northern hemisphere), the vibrant blue-footed booby, Galapagos sharks, lava herons, flightless cormorant, waved albatross, and many more!
🤿 7. World Class Snorkeling & Diving
The snorkeling and diving opportunities around the Galapagos archipelago are nothing short of world-class.
Whether booking a trip out to Kicker Rock to swim with a swirling pack of hammerhead sharks or simply strolling into the water from one of the many beaches, you are sure to spend your time underwater surrounded by schools of tropical fish and a variety of marine life.
Don’t know how to swim? Even that’s not a problem! Just pack your snorkel gear and pop your head under the water at one of the local beaches and you can almost guarantee at least one playful sea lion will come say hello.
🤿 FIND MORE:
BEST SNORKELING IN GALAPAGOS
🐣 8. Different Experiences Every Month
No matter which month you’re able to book your Galapagos vacation, you are guaranteed something unique.
With the changing currents and seasons come opportunities for unique experiences, whether that be mating season courtships, newborn baby season, migratory animal visits, or something else, there is guaranteed to be something special awaiting you.
📆 READ THE COMPLETE GUIDE
WHICH MONTH TO VISIT GALAPAGOS AND WHY
🇪🇨 9. Ecuadorian Culture
Many tropical destinations become culturally vanilla tourist traps, losing their native identity to accommodate international guests.
The Galapagos Islands are not one of these places. In fact, a surprisingly small minority of resident Galapagueños even speak English!
This means that your vacation can be enriched by the local Ecuadorian culture, should you allow it to be!
Eat at the local restaurants (they’re cheap and delicious), book a homestay, speak the native language (at least the basics), and embrace the idea that you are a guest in someone’s home and you will ensure a unique experience that feels like true travel.
✈️ 10. Easier to Visit than Ever Before
Tourism suffered massively due to travel restrictions imposed during the Covid-19 pandemic, hurting a local population that relies primarily on visitors for income. Fortunately, this forced many local companies hotels, and tour operators to establish a better online presence.
The final reason you need to visit the Galapagos islands is that it is simply easier than it has ever been before.
While you have always been able to simply book a cruise or tour (and that remains the easiest option), you can also simply get yourself to Quito and fly to one of two Galapagos islands.
Once you are there, you can use the inter-island ferry to explore up to four inhabited islands, plus take day tours to many of the nearby uninhabited ones.
No special visas or guides are required to visit the Galapagos, and all required pre-arrangements like accommodation can be done online!
You just need to purchase an “INGALA Transit Control Card” at the Quito airport for $20 on your way out and have another $100 ready upon arrival to pay the National Park entry fee. It is that easy.
🔎 READ THE COMPLETE GUIDE
HOW TO PLAN A TRIP TO GALAPAGOS IN 10 EASY STEPS
🙂 Our Experience Visiting Galapagos in 2023
In April 2023, we (Adam, Sophie & Adam’s 70-year-old mom) spent three weeks in Ecuador, two of which were on the Galapagos Islands.
The highlight of our visit was a guided hybrid tour of mainland Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands with Adventure Journeys.
If you’re interested in a trip that combines culture, nature, and even a touch of luxury, we highly recommend their upcoming Thanksgiving Special: Discover the Galapagos Islands and Ecuador Cruise.
Over 7 days, you’ll discover the best that the Galapagos and Ecuador have to offer with expert guides and all of the planning done for you. This is very similar to the tour we took and absolutely loved, but includes a luxury cruise as well!
📚 More Galapagos Islands Travel Guides
The two of us work very hard to create these free travel guides to help you plan your dream vacation. If you think we’ve done a good job and would like to say thanks, please consider clicking the donate button below 🙂
Hopefully, this guide has answered all of your questions, now it’s time for the rest of your planning!
These guides will help you through the process step-by-step, providing insight on everything from finding flights to top activities and so much more.
- Where to Stay in Galapagos
- How to Travel to Galapagos in 10 Easy Steps
- Galapagos 5-Day Itinerary
- Galapagos 7-Day Itinerary
- Galapagos 10-Day Itinerary
- Best Time to Visit the Galapagos Islands
- How to Island Hop the Galapagos
- Galapagos Packing List
- Galapagos Trip Cost & How to Budget
- How to Visit the Galapagos on a Budget
- Santa Cruz Island Ultimate Guide
- San Cristobal Ultimate Guide
- Isabela Island Ultimate Guide
- Bartolome Island Ultimate Guide
- Pinzon Island Ultimate Guide
Things to Do Guides
- Top 50 Things to Do in Galapagos
- Best Islands to Visit in the Galapagos
- Best Galapagos Day Tours
- Galapagos Photography Guide
- Best Beaches in the Galapagos Islands
- Why You NEED to Visit the Galapagos Islands
- Best Galapagos Snorkeling Spots
- Iconic Galapagos Animals & Where to See Them
💬 Final Thoughts
We truly hope you have found post on why you need to visit the Galapagos islands on your next vacation to be a fun and inspiring read.
Now we’d like to hear from YOU!
Was there any information you thought was confusing, missing, inaccurate, or simply outdated?
Or perhaps this was incredibly helpful and you just want to inflate the egos of your authors?
Regardless, we’d like to know! Help us to help future readers by sharing your thoughts in the comments below.