The Galapagos Islands – What's So Special?
Almost everyone has at least heard of a famous chain of islands about 600 miles due west from Ecuador's coast – the Galapagos Islands. But there are beautiful islands all over the world. What exactly makes a Galapagos adventure worthwhile, and why are they so unique? Let's find out as we dive into the fascinating details that truly make this area a one-of-a-kind gem that all travelers should visit.
Let's start with its history. The Galapagos Islands first captured people's imaginations in 1839 when Charles Darwin published "Voyage of the Beagle". He was the first of many that recognized the area's immense value, both biologically and geologically. Today, the Galapagos Islands are a UNESCO World Heritage Site for those exact reasons.
Located at the convergence of three Pacific Ocean currents and relatively isolated from human interference, these Islands are a true haven for some of the most fantastic wildlife in the world. One of the most iconic is the beautiful blue-footed booby. This bird's distinctive blue feet make it both easily recognizable and incredibly photogenic for visitors.
The Giant Galapagos Tortoise is yet another unique and wonderful animal living on the islands. These are the largest tortoises on the planet, weighing around 400 pounds!
The Galapagos Islands are also home to the only marine iguanas in the entire world. These unique lizards feed on ocean algae and often dive straight into the water to forage for their next meal, a remarkable sight to witness!
These animal highlights are only a sliver of the vibrant life that makes this archipelago an incredible adventure. In fact, the Galapagos Islands house one of the richest and most diverse marine ecosystems in the entire world! Now that's well worth a visit.
But the islands’ beauty isn't just on the surface. Divers flock to the area to explore the aquatic realm from magnificent sealife to stunning coral and volcanic formations. After all, it was these volcanic formations that formed the islands in the first place millions of years ago, and they continue to amaze visitors even today.
The Galapagos area's volcanoes are responsible for nearly every aspect of its uniqueness. They create the rock formations that serve as shelter for animals and birds. Additionally, they spew vital minerals and nutrients into the water that help sustain the delicate ecosystem found here. Iconic black sand beaches, one of the islands’ most striking features that can be visited on Isla Santiago, owe their existence to these volcanoes. Believe it or not, frequent eruptions and lava flows are still forming brand new islands even today!
The stunning rock formations, beautiful coves, and unique wildlife all work together to make the Galapagos Islands a destination unlike any other on our planet. What's more, visiting the Galapagos Islands is now incredibly easy.
Visiting the Galapagos Islands
Flights to the Islands
All commercial flights to the Galapagos Islands – arriving at either Isla Baltra (GPS) or Isla San Cristobal (SCY) – first originate in mainland Ecuador. Therefore, plan your trip with a layover in Ecuador before continuing on to the Islands from either Quito (UIO) or Guayaquil (GYE).
When to Visit
Remember, the Galapagos Islands are in the Southern Hemisphere! Their summer, and your best time to visit, is from December to early May. These months offer the warmest temperatures of the year – generally staying in the 70s and 80s Fahrenheit – which are ideal for the plethora of outdoor adventures that the Islands offer.
Keep in mind, however, that the summer months (December to early May) are also the wettest of the year and occasional showers are very common. But overall, the weather is just as beautiful as the views.
The rest of the year from June to November offers cooler temperatures in the 50s to 70s Fahrenheit range and less predictable weather. Tourist activity tends to decrease during this time, which may make it a worthwhile time to visit if you don’t mind less than ideal weather!
How to Explore
Now that you’ve arrived at the Galapagos, how should you go about seeing and experiencing everything the islands have to offer? Every island is unique and has its own fascinating history and wildlife population. What’s more, the islands themselves are fundamentally connected to the ocean from their formation to their inhabitants.
With that in mind, we firmly believe that an ocean-based cruise around the Galapagos Islands is the absolute best method to experience this jaw-dropping region. Explore each island’s most stunning features and take to the ocean in kayaks, stand up paddleboards, or snorkel gear to get up close and personal with the sea life and views that make the Galapagos Islands so enchanting.
Now that you know how and why the Galapagos Islands are so special along with when and how to experience them, all that’s left is for you to start planning your adventure! And remember, FlashpackerConnect is happy to take on the planning and logistics of your Galapagos Island vacation so you can focus 100% on the experience.