Enchanting, mysterious, captivating, authentic, heavenly, yet full of life, Galapagos Islands also known as the 'Enchanted Isles' have always attracted travelers from all over the globe, promising a journey of a lifetime amidst playful seals, sneaky Friate birds and elegant albatrosses. The island's interesting geography volcanic in origin, rich plant and animal species have always been admired by numerous scientists, tourists and nature-lovers, still facing the mystery how such a large diversity of species could grow and develop in a remote location, like the Galapagos.
Galapagos boasts turbulent and mysterious history, vibrant nightlife and fine dining options, and an array of luxury hotels and resorts. Add to these long stretches of shoreline, crater lakes, protected coves and lagoons, as well as a wide range of things to do and see for everyone.
The Galapagos Islands (officially called the Archipelago de Caolon) are a World Heritage site composed of 13 major volcanic islands and more than 40 islets, scattered over an area of about 36,000 square miles around the mainland Ecuador. The 13 main islands are Baltra, Espanola, Fernandina, Floreana, Genovesa, Isabela, Marchena, Pinta, Pinzon, San Cristobal, Santa Cruz, Santa Fe and Santiago, all blessed with stunning scenery and pleasant weather, which means that there is no 'best' time to visit the precious islands.
Today only four islands are populated. Santa Cruz, the most populated island ideal for day trips is where the famous Giant Tortoises of the Galapagos are found. It has a highly developed tourist infrastructure and is home to a great number of hotels, restaurants, shops, bars, and dive centers. Isabela is the largest island (4,588 sq km) featuring many interesting sites, including Punta Tortuga, a Galapagos Beach at the base of Darwin volcano, Urbina Bay, Punta Moreno and Sierra Negra, the second largest volcanic crater in the world.
Made up of two volcanoes, San Cristobal is another inhabited island, blessed with charm and beauty. Puerto Baquerizo Moreno is its capital and the capital of the islands. Of interest to tourists are Kicker Rock, El Progreso, Ochoa Beach, Isla Lobos and much more. Here you can indulge in biking, hiking, surfing, bird watching, snorkeling and scuba diving adventures.
Floreana Island also known as Charles or Santa Maria Island is the southeasternmost island in the archipelago, featuring colorful history, rich flora and wildlife, as well as several sightseeing highlights. Post Office Bay is an enticing spot to follow the tradition of pirates and whalers of the past. La Corona Del Diablo (Devil's Crown), just off the coast of Punta Cormorant, is an underwater crater formation, offering best scuba diving and snorkeling experiences.
Things to do in Galapagos Islands include:
Galapagos is a surfer's paradise offering world-class surf experiences, recommended for advanced surfers. The main surfing spots are located on the islands of San Cristobal and Santa Cruz. Do not forget to bring enough wax, lashes, etc and at least two boards because breaking your board is a real possibility.
Diving in Galapagos is a not-to-be-missed adventure of a lifetime. Sea lions, reef fish, golden rays, garden eels, marine iguanas, hammerheads and turtles are only a few of tropical marine habitats making Galapagos a diver's paradise. Galapagos diving is ideal not only for experienced learners, but also for divers of all skill levels.
Other popular activities include shopping, whale watching (baleen whale, orcas or killer whales, sperm whale, etc.), hiking and trekking, sport fishing, kayaking as well as canyoning.
Hotels in GalapagosAccommodation options in Galapagos range from the most simple and modest youth hostels to the most lavish and elegant ones, ideal for up market and budget travelers. Most Galapagos Islands hotels are in Santa Cruz, the larger ones offering activities like snorkeling, kayaking, as well as different excursions, tours and cruises. Those who have decided to spend their honeymoon in Galapagos can choose from honeymoon hotels, such as Quito, Ecuador and Café Cultura, offering romance and unforgettable memories.
The ecologically oriented Finch Bay Eco Hotel, located in Santa Cruz Island at Punta Estrada is the only full-service Galapagos Eco-Hotel situated directly on a beach. The hotel boasts 21 garden view rooms and 6 brand-new ocean view rooms (with twin or king-size beds), all with private bathroom, hair drier, air conditioning and a telephone. Hotel facilities include private outdoor swimming pool and Jacuzzi, bar/lounge, a fine restaurant offering international and Galapagos inspiring, the state-of-the-art cuisines, on-site desalinization and purification, as well as internet access. In this stunning getaway you have the unique chance and freedom to select the activities of your choice from observing the natural wildlife, exploring lava fields or experiencing world-class diving to relaxing on the beach, adventure mountain biking and hiking to Tortuga Bay.
Royal Palm Hotel, nestled in the lush highlands of Santa Cruz, is an ideal 'hideaway' genuinely constructed with extreme sensitivity of local materials, taking you as close to the nature as the luxury will allow. This thoughtfully designed hotel is comprises villas, suites and veranda studios with utmost amenities and facilities, including satellite TV, dvd players, fax, telephone and internet services. You can find a lounge/dining area with the fire place and a private garden featuring an outdoor Jacuzzi. Recreation facilities include health spa, fully-equipped gymnasium, tennis courts, museum, observatory and much more. The only five-star hotel in Galapagos Islands, the Royal Palm lately was renamed as 'the most excellent hotel in South America 2011' by the famous Conde Nast Johansens.
Iguana Crossing is a newly opened outstanding boutique hotel located in the charming Isabella Island, with nothing but national Park beyond it. The hotel welcomes you with a tasteful architectural design with incredible views of the spectacular white sandy beach and sea, or else the active volcano beyond the wetlands. The hotel boasts fine services and facilities, including a restaurant, a small spa with steam and massage rooms, Wi-Fi internet, elegantly designed oceanfront swimming pool, both indoor and outdoor bars, conference rooms, as well as concierge services for activities and transfers. You can indulge in several guided tours, as well as land and water experiences, like sightseeing, sea kayaking, hiking, snorkeling, and mountain biking.
Head to the enchanted Galapagos Islands and discover the beautiful set of exotic Islands, which will surely make you feel as if you are part of it all!