The Galapagos Islands are considered one of the best destinations in the world for wildlife, and for good reason. This isolated, volcanic archipelago in the Pacific Ocean is home to a plethora of flora and fauna, many of which are endemic to the islands.
The remote nature of the islands meant that they were unpopulated by mankind for the majority of their history. In the 15th century, the Spanish first touched down on the islands during the exploration of the Americas.
Between the 1500s and the 1800s, the islands served as a hideout for pirates and a hunting ground for whalers. Ecuador laid claim to the islands after independence from Spain in 1832 and the islands were populated by exiled convicts.
It wasn’t until after Charles Darwin’s expedition in 1835 that the islands gained special attention. Yet, the first official settlement wasn’t established until the 1930s, with tourism beginning in 1960s.
There are four islands where travelers can stay: Santa Cruz, San Cristobal, Isabela, and Floreana.
Santa Cruz has the most traveler infrastructure in terms of hotels, restaurants, and activities. It is also where you can find the Darwin Research Center. Our top recommendations for places to stay are:
The Galapagos is a year-round destination, although the climate does vary through the year.
February to April are the hottest months of the year at around 85°F/30°C. The water is warm although visibility is low for snorkeling and diving.
May to July is slightly cooler, averaging 77°F/25°C but the water is still pleasant. This is the best time of year to see humpback whales and sharks. Sea lions are also very active in the summer as July is their breeding season.
August to November are the coolest months with temperatures at about 70°F/20°C and it can be rainy, although this is the best time for diving with clear waters. Sea lion cubs are also born around September!
Between December and January, temperatures warm up again and range between 70-80°F/20-27°C. Visiting at this time of year offers an incredible chance to see the Giant Tortoise Eggs hatch!
This paradise has no shortage of activities or sights to see! Wildlife is one of the biggest attractions and the islands offer the chance to see species found nowhere else on earth – including the great Galapagos tortoise. Or, head out to sea to spot humpback whales and swim with dolphins and sea lions!
Some wildlife encounters depend on the time of year; you may have the opportunity to see the tortoises hatching, the birth of sea lion pups, or the migration of the humpback whales! Check out our tips of when to visit above for more information.
The islands are also one of the most active volcanic places on Earth, with five active volcanoes on Isla Isabela alone! Spend a day hiking to these fantastic natural wonders.
For the full Ecuador experience in the Galapagos, take our comprehensive nine-day tour.
Keteka grants access to authentic activities run by local tour operators and guides. You can book and secure your place in advance, and we will take care of everything else. We’ll let you know where to go or where you will be picked up and at what time.
Flights to the islands only leave from mainland Ecuador, so you’ll have to make your way there first to either Quito or Guayaquil. From there, three main airlines operate the route to the Galapagos: LATAM, Avianca and TAME. A round-trip costs around $300 – $400 USD.
All airlines go to Seymour airport on Isla Baltra, just north of Isla Santa Cruz. Once you arrive, you will need to take a ferry to the island where you are staying.