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The Galapagos Islands, 1,000 kilometers west of the Ecuadorian coast, are an ecological wonderland filled with a treasure trove of endemic species. These islands are famous for inspiring Charles Darwin’s theory of natural selection. His research from the islands had a profound impact and forever changed the way we view and understand the world. Here are five things to know before you headout.

1.) Go any time. There’s never a bad time to visit these otherworldy islands. The rainy season is from December to May. The air and ocean temps are warm with calm seas, best for swimming and snorkeling. There’s a daily drizzle, but still plenty of sunshine. The dry season is from June to December. A cold current comes in from the north. As a result, the water is cooler with rough seas and packed with plankton, which attracts many fish and birds. This is the best time of year to dive in the Galapagos. There’s also plenty of terrain for mountain biking and waves for surfing any time of year.

Tortuga Bay on Santa Cruz

Tortuga Bay on Santa Cruz

2.) There’s only one way to get there. Except for rare occasions, the only way to get to the Galapagos is to fly from Quito or Guayaquil on mainland Ecuador. Baltra Airport right off Santa Cruz or Puerto Baquerizo Moreno on San Cristobal are the two airports on the islands. Upon arrival visitors are required to pay a $100 Galapagos National Park fee in cash. The U.S. Dollar is Ecuador’s (including the Galapagos Islands) currency. There are plenty of taxis at the airport ready to take you to and around the main tourist hub for $1.

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Galapagos Sea Lions & Sally Lightfoot Crabs in Puerto Baquerizo Moreno on San Cristobal

3.) You’ll see the most with an island-hopping cruise. It’s your best bet to experience the most wildlife. Several of the islands are only accessible to cruise boats. 4-day cruises allow you to explore islands near Santa Cruz, while 8-day tours include islands further out. Save a substantial amount of cash by booking last minute cruises in Quito or Guayaquil. Better yet, get rock bottom prices by booking last minute in Puerto Ayero, the port in Santa Cruz. If your schedule is flexible, try to avoid visiting the Galapagos during the summer months and winter holidays, which are the busiest and most expensive travel times.

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Marine Iguanas

4.) But you’ll save money by taking day trips. A cruise is not the only way to see the islands. Many travelers opt to stay in accommodation on Santa Cruz or San Cristobal and take day trips inland and to nearby islands. This is the most budget-friendly way to experience the Galapagos and you’re still bound to see an abundance of wildlife and breathtaking scenery.

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Galapagos Tortoise

5.) Nowhere else on earth can you view wild mammals, reptiles and birds that are utterly unconcerned by human presence. These animals may get up close and personal, but it’s important to respect and protect the ecosystem—keep your hands to yourself! Note that wildlife on the islands is spread out with some species only found on certain islands.

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Chillen in the Galapagos

Tagged: Destinations, Uncategorized

Jennifer Eiber

Jennifer Eiber

Jennifer is a freelance writer and content strategist based in Denver. Combatting a serious case of wanderlust, she may be found exploring her city, traveling the globe or on her yoga mat somewhere in between.

7 thoughts on “Galapagos Islands: 5 things to know before you go”

  1. Jennifer
    Galapagos, is the next trip I love to go, it’s like in Tasmania island or Phillips island outskirts of Melbourne in Aussie. Please give details on hotels and rental car info to visit this island.
    you could be a good tour guide.
    best regards

  2. You can go to the Galapagos independently, or with a tour if you wish. There’s plenty of inexpensive and nice hotels on various islands. Flights there from the mainland will be a bit pricey, and island entrance is $100, but once there it’s actually not too bad. You can do plenty of day trips out with various companies, for snorkelling and scuba diving for instance. You can also book boats at very good last minute deals by showing up in Quito at the agencies. I got an 8-day dive boat for over $1000 cheaper than usual.

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