🐒 10 Reasons 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.

The Galapagos Islands are undeniably one of the most unique destinations this world has to offer, and there are some very compelling reasons to visit this year!

More and more local companies have established an online presence following the COVID-19 pandemic, making self-guided vacations easier than ever before.

We spent two weeks exploring the Galapagos islands in April 2023 without a tour or guide. In our time, we visited six islands and crossed almost every animal off of our proverbial “Galapagos Wildlife Bingo Cards.”

In this guide, we will explain why you need to visit the Galapagos Islands ASAP by covering the 10 best, most compelling reasons.

🦭 1. Unbeatable Wildlife Encounters

Undoubtedly, the best reason to visit the Galapagos islands is for the genuinely 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!

See that slice of paradise above? Sophie and I had that all to ourselves!

A vacation needs to feel like a vacation, and the white sand beaches of the 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

Sophie swimming in the beautiful pool at Hotel Silberstein, our Galapagos tour accommodation with Adventure Journeys.
Sophie goes for a swim at our budget-friendly hotel.

Most people think a vacation to the Galapagos islands is outside their budget, but this could not be more wrong!

In fact, the Galapagos is one of the most affordable tropical destinations in the world and caters to 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

No other place in the world will provide the photo opportunities that we encountered in the 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 everywhere are the only species of iguana in the 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 the Galapagos in 2023

The We Dream of Travel team crouch behind a pair of blue footed boobies at Los Tuneles on Isabela Island in the Galapagos.
Our group watching a blue-footed booby mating dance in Galapagos.

The Galapagos Islands were the number one item on Sophie’s travel bucket list, but we weren’t sure we would ever have the opportunity to visit. We thought you needed to be rich enough for an expensive tour or some kind of scientist to be allowed in!

With some research, we realized anyone can and SHOULD visit the Galapagos Islands. You do not need a tour, guide, or any special qualifications at all!

In the end, we spent two full weeks on the Galapagos Islands. In that time, we stayed on all three major islands and visited six in total. We also captured more epic wildlife photos than we imagined possible.

Even my 70-year-old mother came along for the ride and enjoyed every second of it.

This was among the most unforgettable places we have ever been to in our decade+ of travel.

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

A Galapagos sea lion swims directly up to our underwater camera in crystal clear water while snorkeling in Ecuador.

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 πŸ™‚

We truly hope you have found this post on why you need to visit the Galapagos islands on your next vacation to be a fun and inspiring read.

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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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