Best Things To Do In The Galapagos

Best things to do in the Galapagos

The Galapagos Islands are one the most vibrant and fascinating regions on earth. With so much to see and do, we have compiled a list of the best things to do in the Galapagos. 

Because the wildlife is so friendly here, there is no shortage of epic encounters! Each island within the archipelago offers up something unique and amazing. 

Although you my not be able to get through everything on this list, we strongly recommend taking a cruise as this will tick most of them off! It will also give you the best chance of seeing more than one island. 

If you do decide to take a cruise, make sure you check the itineraries carefully as not all Galapagos cruises offer the same activities or excursions. You also need to check what time of year certain animals are in residence as this may also affect your cruise. 

We hope you enjoy every moment in the Galapagos Islands.

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​Best Things To Do In The Gal​​​​apagos

​Wildlife Watching

Best things to do in the Galapagos - Wildlife watching

Wildlife watching is the main reason why people visit the Galapagos Islands. The archipelago is famed for its friendly wildlife that seems completely unafraid of humans. 

You really need to see it for yourself to believe it. Seals swim up to you, iguanas relax on rocks next to you, penguin waddle past, and sea turtles swim by you! Even birds don't fly away - it really is a wildlife-lovers paradise! If you're wondering where is the best spot to see wildlife, the answer is simple. Everywhere. As soon as you arrive in Santa Cruz you'll see iguanas and seals splayed out on the pier! 

Below is a great short video by Richard Sidey demonstrating the beauty of the Galapagos wildlife


Best things to do in the Galapagos - kayaking

Kayaking is definitely one of the best things to do in the Galapagos. Most Galapagos cruises will offer kayaking (sometimes at an extra cost) and it's definitely something you shouldn't pass up. 

Kayaking gets you away from the bustle of the ship and allows you to explore hard-to-reach places from the peace of your own kayak. You can paddle around interesting rock formations and visit shallow areas where your ship cannot go. 

Kayaking is also quiet which means wildlife is not scared away. You'll often find seals, penguins, sea turtles and much more come right up to your kayak! For more information on kayaking in the Galapagos, please click here

Below is a short video by Maureen Costello demonstrating the delights of kayaking in the Galapagos. 


Best things to do in the Galapagos - photography

For wildlife photographers, the Galapagos islands is one of the greatest destinations on earth. As mentioned above, the wildlife is unafraid of humans which allows some incredibly intimate and close-up shots.

There is also a great variety of species on offer and many of these exhibit unusual behaviours and colours. The blue-footed booby dance is just one example!

Underwater photographers will love the clarity of the water and the friendly seals and penguins! For more adventurous visitors, you can photograph hammerhead sharks, tiger sharks and whale sharks! 

Hike Sierra Negra Volcano 

Best things to do in the Galapagos - Sierra Negra Volcano

Rising nearly 4,500 feet high, the Sierra Negro Volcano dominates the landscape of Isabela Island. Notable for its size and colour, the Sierra Negro Volcano caldera is over 6 miles in diameter, making it the second largest in the world! The beautiful red earth contrasted with the black caldera and surrounding greenery really makes this volcano stand out. 

The volcano is still active and the last eruption occurred in 2005. This means that the island is kept under close watch. The volcano is famed for its fog, but if you catch it on a clear day, you'll get some fantastic views of the surrounding archipelago. 

There is a 5.5 mile trail to the top that does not require a guide. If you want a guide then expect to pay in the region of $30-$40 for a half day hike. We suggest bringing lot of snacks and water to keep you going. 

Check out the video below by wander The Map of their hike up Sierra Negra Volcano.

Snorkeling And Scuba Diving

Best things to do in the Galapagos - snorkeling

The Galapagos is famed for its excellent snorkelling and diving. The crystal-clear waters offer excellent visibility and the plethora of creatures makes the experience totally unforgettable. 

There is not many places on earth where seals actively play with you and iguanas swim by you! You'll see shoals of tropical fish, reef sharks, large rays, sea turtles, penguins and much more! 

Some of the best dive sites include Daphne Minor off the north coast of Santa Cruz, Bartholomew Point which is famed for its penguins, and Gordon Rock where, at certain times of year, you'll see huge groups of hammerhead sharks!

For snorkelers, we recommend Los Tunnels on a day trip, Devils Crown on a cruise, or Kicker Rock. All there spots offer excellent wildlife viewing whilst also offer interesting landscapes of jagged rocks and tunnels.  

Check out the footage below by Abercrombie and Kent. 

K.F William Street

Best things to do in the Galapagos - kf-william

If you love fresh seafood then K.F William Street should not be missed! Located in Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz, the street is a normal street during the day, but comes alive at night!

Chairs and tables are put out every night by numerous little kiosks that exhibit their fresh fish in front of you. Just pick your fish, how you want it cooked and what sauce you want. Forget chips and salad, you'll just get a huge fish plonked in front of you with a knife and fork to tuck in! 

We seriously suggest going for the fish encolcado - a beautiful coconut sauce option! 

Zodiac Trips

Best things to do in the Galapagos - zodiac

On all the larger expedition cruises in the Galapagos you'll get daily zodiac trips included. These trips are great for searching out bigger marine mammals like dolphins and whales. 

Zodiacs are great as they're quick and small, allowing your guide to keep up with moving species. As you move through the water, your guides will give you information and facts regarding the species you're looking at. They also give you loads of information regarding the islands you visit and the geology of the landscapes. 

Below is an epic video of orca swimming up to the zodiacs by Lindblad Expeditions.

Charles Darwin Research Station

Best things to do in the Galapagos - charles darwin

The Charles Darwin Research Centre is a must-see attraction for people with a third for information! The site offers fantastic insights into local conservation, the wildlife of the region and, of course, Charles Darwin. 

The station is an active tortoise breeding centre and you'll see plenty of the gentle giants as you wander around. It's also the place Lonsome George passed away in 2012. He was the sole surviving Pinta Island giant tortoise subspecies. 

The station is located within a mile of Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz Island. It's an easy walk to get there and well sign-posted. Make sure you read all the information boards on your visit as these are absolutely fascinating and discuss the local history and ecology of the islands. 

The below video by Lindblad Expeditions tells you a little more about the research station. 

Reserva El Chato

Best things to do in the Galapagos

Although there are plenty of giant tortoise reserves dotted around the Galapagos, Reserva El Chato is the biggest and most well known. Located in the highlands area of Santa Cruz, the reserve takes about 20 minutes to reach from Puerto Ayora. 

Once there you'll see a beautiful landscape of open grassland, dotted with green ponds and lovely tress. There are plenty of paths to follow as you search the area for giant tortoise. Lets be honest, they're not difficult to find - there's lots of them and they're huge!

These gentle giants don't mind at all if you bend down near them to take a photo. There is also a couple of giant tortoise shells at the entry/exit point which you can take your photo in for a bit of fun!  

Tortuga Bay

Best things to do in the Galapagos - tortuga bay

As the name suggests, Tortuga Bay is famed for its Galápagos' marine turtles. During January and February, you can often see the turtles laying their eggs on the bright-white sand. Between April and May the hatchlings can often be seen emerging from the sand and making their slow journey to the sea.

Both beaches that make up Tortuga Bay are also home to plenty of marine iguanas and Sally Lightfoot crabs. The crystal clear water is perfect to swim in and it's a great day out for kids. If it's warm though, be warned that the trek to the beach from Puerto Ayora can feel quite long and difficult. 

Below is some drone footage by Tropical Xplorers showing the scale of this beautiful bay!

Get a Cruise Quote!

Expedition Cruise do not sell tours, we simply provide impartial advice. If you would like an exact quote with our recommended specialist click Get a Quote.


If you have any queries or questions regarding the the best things to do in the Galapagos, please feel free to contact us or leave a comment below.

Thank you and happy travels!

Expedition Cruise Team

About the Author Expedition Cruise is the web’s most authoritative information portal on adventure and expedition cruising. Our mission is to provide up to date and comprehensive information on traveling to the Arctic, Antarctica and further afield, so that your experience is as fulfilling and safe as possible.

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