🐒 Top 10: Why You Need to Visit the Galapagos Islands in 2024

Why You Need to Visit Galapagos Islands blog cover graphic.  Text overlaying an underwater photo of a sea lion swimming towards the camera in the Galapagos.

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!


🏝 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.


β˜€οΈ 3. Perfect Climate Year-Round

View from Bartolome Island viewpoint showing two crescent white sand bays and Pinnacle Rock surrounded by aqua water on a bright, sunny day.

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!


πŸ’Έ 4. Surprisingly Affordable Holidays

Swimming in the beautiful pool at Hotel Silberstein, our Galapagos tour accommodation with Adventure Journeys.

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.


πŸ“Έ 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!


🐧 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.


🐣 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.


πŸ‡ͺπŸ‡¨ 9. Ecuadorian Culture

An Ecuadorian woman working at the fish market on Santa Cruz island in Galapagos is surrounded by animals hoping for scraps.

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 GalapagueΓ±os 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

View of San Cristobal showing Kicker Rock from plane window flying into Galapagos.

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.


πŸ™‚ Our Experience Visiting Galapagos in 2023

Three people crouched behind a pair of blue footed boobies at Los Tuneles on Isabela Island Galapagos

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!

πŸ“š More Galapagos Islands Travel Guides

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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.

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πŸ’¬ 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!

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Written by
Adam Marland is a professional travel blogger and landscape photographer from Oregon. After over a decade of experience as a freelance travel photographer, Adam found national acclaim when he became the National Park Foundation's β€œChief Exploration Officer” in 2021.

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