Galápagos Islands Favorites

  • Mocking Bird
    Mocking Bird
    by MalenaN
  • Galapagos Flycatcher
    Galapagos Flycatcher
    by MalenaN
  • Lava Lizard
    Lava Lizard
    by MalenaN

Galápagos Islands Favorites

  • Happy Gringo

    Since we booked so late we looked for a travel agent to assist us in booking the trip, we contacted two, one in Ecuador and one in the US and ended up using the Ecuador based agency, Happy Gringo. Adriana was very good about getting back to us promptly and answered all of our questions.When it came time to pay, we had the option of a cash transfer...

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  • Money matters

    The official currency of Ecuador is the US dollar and we transacted all of our business in cash apart from booking the cruise through an agent. Before getting on the plane to Baltra, you'll want to make sure that you have all the cash that you need for your visit to the Galapagos as there was only one stop on Santa Cruz where we saw an ATM and even...

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  • Harbor-Puerto Baquerizo Morenobor

    The harbors at both Puerto Baqerizo and on Santa Crus have their share of interesting sea life, especially the entertaining sea lions.

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  • Lava Cactus

    One of the many sites that confounded us was the Lava Cactus. These large cactus seemed to grow right out of the lava. In fact, it did grow right out of the lava. Lava on the bottom and this large cactus growing out it... no dirt, no soil... just ....we enuff said. And, as always.... there was another damn Iguana photo bomber in this shot also.

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  • Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz Island

    The little town of Puerto Ayora is one of the most accessible towns in the archipelago. There is a nice pier allowing for easy access for both zodiacs and water taxis. In less than 50 yards you are on the main street of the town fronting the harbor. Many shops line the main street, where you can pick up your share of souvineers, t shirts, or sit...

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  • Sally Lightfoot Crabs

    The red, scampering crabs were on a number of islands we visited. Named after a famous dancer with known for her quick feet they seemed to mostly on vacation, hanging around the tide pools.

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  • Land Iguanas

    Land iguanas populate many of the islands. They also seem to exist in slow motion. They seem to eat anything green without thorns. This little bugger was as close to climbing a bush as he rose up as far as possible to grab some leaves.

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  • Galapagos Hawk - Top of the Food Chain

    The Galapagos Hawk is the top of the food chain as far as the land based inhabitants are concerned. They take small iguana, tortoises up to three years old, as well as locusts and centipedes. They hunt in groups, and the dominant hawk eats first. This hawk was in a tree on Santiago Island.

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  • Puerto Baquerizo Moreno on San Cristobal

    The second largest human settlement in the Galapagos, the small town sits on Southern end of the Island and actually has some modicum of an airport. Small hostals, beer joints, interspersed with touring agencies. There is a sheltered bay for small boats and ships with a fleet of water taxis at your disposal. Probably the most interesting site were...

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  • Sea Turtle Nesting - Las Bachas, Isla...

    The white, sandy beach of Las Bachas is a preferred nesting site for the Green Sea Turtle. At night the females haul themselves out of the surf, dig a hole, deposit twenty or so eggs, cover the eggs and then march back to the sea to the waiting male sea turtles. The tracks look like they were made by tractors.

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  • Vista from Bartolome Island

    The view from the platform walk up to the volcano cone on Bartolome Island is one of the prettiest views in the Galapagos. Back to back curved beaches, differentiated by green vegetation on the windward side are a sight to behold. It is interesting that as you walk up to the top of the volcano you don't notice the partially submerged caldera as it...

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  • Darwin Crater at Tagus Cove

    On the Western side of Isla Isabella is the Darwin Crater just inland from Tagus Cove. This is a salt water lake that is filled by sea water that seeps through the rock from the nearby Tagus Cove. Darwin went down to the lake assuming there would be fresh water but found it to be more salty than the ocean. It is a little tricky to exit the Zodiac...

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  • Flamingo

    There are several salt water ponds that attract the Pink Flamingos. They start out white, but then adapt the pink color from the carotenoid proteins in the crustaceans and other critters they eat.

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  • Galapagos Penguins

    These little twerps are certainly entertaining, very bold and are amenable to photo ops. They can be found individually, or in groups. We saw one group of over thirty. Several swam over to our Zodiac for a closer look at us. We found two others standing on a couple of rocks next to one another, seemingly to be talking away with one another. This...

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  • Male Frigate Bird

    The male Frigate Bird is famous for his red, inflatable throat pouch. He will puff it up and stay in place for hours attempting to attract a female frigate bird.

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  • Yellow Warbler

    One of the smallest but prettiest of Galápagos Islands birds is the Yellow Warbler. It is not endemic, being found from Alaska to Peru, but as with all species, you are likely to get closer to one here than elsewhere. And like the finches, it is continually on the move and thus very hard to photograph – I have more pictures of blurred Yellow...

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  • A world apart

    The Galápagos Islands are located 600 miles from the Ecuadorian coast in the Pacific Ocean. There are 14 large islands and 120 smaller islets and rocks. Their isolation from any other place has resulted in the evolution of many unique species of flora and fauna, endemic to the archipelago or even to just one island within it. The islands have been...

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  • Galápagos sea lion

    The first animals to greet us on almost every island were the sea lions. And I do mean “greet”. It often seemed that they had been lolling around on the beach or even the landing jetty just waiting for our arrival! This isn’t a scientific distinction, but for me they fell into four groups – adorable pups, languid and photogenic females, lively...

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  • Galápagos fur seal

    In addition to the Galápagos sea lions, which are everywhere in the islands, there are a smaller number of Galápagos fur seals. These too are an endemic species, and live mainly on the rockiest shores. They are smaller than the sea lions, and their fur made them a target for poachers in the past, although they are of course now protected and their...

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  • Land iguanas

    One of the largest animals you will see in the Galápagos are the Land iguanas, which on some islands can reach over a metre in length. There are actually two species to be found here – Conolophus subcristatus on six of the islands, and Conolophus pallidus only on Santa Fe. The latter can be a paler yellow than the main species (hence the name,...

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  • Marine iguanas

    The other main species of iguana that you will see on many of the islands are the marine iguanas, of which there are in fact seven sub-species, varying in size and colour. Most are black or dark grey but some have red colouring too, most notably on Española where the males have not only red but often green colouring too, which becomes brighter...

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  • Lava lizards

    The smallest of the reptiles we saw regularly on the islands were the lava lizards. There are seven species:Galápagos Lava Lizard: Microlophus albermarlensisEspañola Lava Lizard: Microlophus delanonis Floreana Lava Lizard: Microlophus grayMarchena Lava Lizard: Microlophus habelliiPinta Lava Lizard: Microlophus pacificusPinzon Lava Lizard:...

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  • Giant tortoises

    Giant tortoises are endemic to the Galápagos, with 15 subspecies having been recorded around the archipelago. Not only do we find a different subspecies on each island where the tortoises live, but on Isabella there is a different subspecies for each of the four volcanoes. To a tortoise these volcanoes might just as well be islands, as they are...

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  • Sally Lightfoot crabs

    These distinctive crabs can be seen all over the Galápagos, especially on the dark lava rocks, and they really catch the eye with their vivid orange and blue colouring. They are not endemic to the islands, being also found all along the Pacific coast of South and Central America. Nevertheless they seem to be one of the animals most associated with...

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  • Blue-footed Boobies

    There are several species indelibly linked in the mind with the Galápagos Islands, and one of these is certainly the blue-footed booby. The distinctive feet that give it its name, almost turquoise in colour, really are as bright and bizarre-looking as they seem in the photos! These feet are used during courtship, the birds deliberately lifting...

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  • Red-footed Boobies

    Before coming to the Galápagos I had seen numerous photos of Blue-footed Boobies and was looking forward to meeting them “in person”, but I had seen and read relatively little about their red-footed cousins and consequently was surprised and delighted to find them even more appealing! The combination of bright blue bill, pretty pink and turquoise...

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  • Nazca Boobies

    The third of the booby species to be seen in the Galápagos are the Nazca Boobies. Once thought to be a sub-species of masked booby, these are now recognised as a species in their own right, endemic to these islands. They are mostly white, with an orange bill and the mask-like black markings around it. Nazca Boobies lay two eggs, several days apart....

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  • Frigatebirds

    Frigatebirds are large mainly black birds, related to pelicans. There are two species found in the Galápagos Islands – the magnificent frigatebird (fregata magnificens) and the great frigatebird (fregata minor), and we were able to see both during our week’s cruising. Both are fantastic flyers, able to spend up to a week in the air without landing,...

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  • Waved albatross

    To see waved albatross in the Galápagos you will have to include Española in your itinerary and visit between late March and late December, as the birds are only on the island to breed and at sea for the rest of the year. If you can possibly plan your trip to include them, do – seeing these awe-inspiring birds was definitely one of the highlights...

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  • Galápagos penguins

    The Galápagos penguin is the second smallest penguin in the world and the only one to live north of the equator. It is mostly seen on the western islands, Isabella and Fernandina, neither of which were on our itinerary, but fortunately we saw some on the rocky black lava shoreline of Santiago when we took a short panga ride there before landing on...

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  • Galápagos hawk

    We were pretty excited when we first saw a Galápagos hawk, on Santiago, and tried (and failed) to get some photos of it. We had more success on Española, where a pair were nesting (and mating) at one end of the beach at Gardner Bay. But it was on Santa Fe that we were to have one of our most memorable encounters with them, and indeed with any...

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  • Gulls

    There are five species of gull that you might see on the Galápagos Islands, of which two are endemic – the swallow-tailed and lava gulls. We saw both of these, but far more of the former. As the name suggests, it has a forked tail and is an attractive bird, I thought, with its silver-grey plumage (white on the under parts), dark head and red...

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  • Galápagos dove

    The Galápagos dove was another of the birds that we saw on many of the islands, on beaches and on the low scrubby ground that often lies behind the foreshore. It is quite small (between 18 and 23 cm long) and rather attractive, with a vivid blue eye ring and red legs and feet “topping and tailing” a soft brown mottled body, its wing feather flecked...

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  • Herons

    There are several species of heron on the Galápagos, including Great Blue Herons, Yellow-crowned Night Herons and Lava Herons, all of which we saw in our time here. I have seen Great Blue Herons elsewhere, but those seen here belong to an endemic subspecies, cognata. They are as the name suggests the largest of the herons, and are found in fairly...

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  • Mockingbirds

    There are four different species of Mockingbirds found on the Galápagos, all of them endemic. Two of these are rare and one considered endangered, and we didn’t see either as we didn’t go to the islands where they live. These are the Charles (or Floreana) Mockingbird found only on two small islands Champion and Gardner just off Floreana (of which...

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  • Galápagos Finches

    Although small and relatively plain, the Galápagos or Darwin Finches are amongst the best-known of the archipelago’s species, owing to the role they played in shaping Darwin’s theories. Although their bodies look similar, their bills vary greatly in size and shape, leading Darwin to theorise that they had adapted to suit the food that was available...

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  • Short-eared Owl

    Owls are nocturnal, right? Well yes, normally – but not here on the Galápagos! The Short-eared Owl is one of two owl species found here (the other is the Barn Owl, which we didn’t see on our trip). We saw several on Genovesa, on the trail at Prince Philip’s Steps (El Barranco). And although it was broad daylight, they were not only to be seen on...

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  • Other birds seen

    We saw very many other species of birds in our week in the Galápagos Islands, not all of which I was able to photograph or even to note. Among those I did capture, either in my camera or journal or both, were:~ Red-billed Tropicbird (from the cliffs of South Plaza)~ Brown Pelicans (at the Fish Market and around the harbour of Puerto Ayora, Santa...

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  • Sea turtles

    As well as all the wildlife on the islands and in the air above, there is lots to see in the surrounding waters. You will some marine life from the boat and panga, but to see it at its best it is necessary to get into the sea with them, so do sample snorkelling Galápagos style!The Galápagos Green Sea Turtle (Chelonia mydas agassisi) is a subspecies...

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  • White-tipped Reef Shark

    There are several sharks that inhabit the waters around the Galápagos Islands – Hammerheads, the endemic Galápagos Shark, Whale Sharks, White- and Black-tipped Reef Sharks. Of these, it is the White-tipped Reef Shark that you are most likely to see while snorkelling. And while the notion of swimming with a shark may seem scary, there is no need to...

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  • Manta rays and more

    I had seen rays before (in an aquarium!) and loved the graceful way in which they move. But I have never before seen a manta ray, the largest of the species. A couple of our group had already spotted one briefly from the boat by the time we reached Rabida, but I had missed it on both occasions, so I was thrilled when one was sighted in sea beneath...

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  • Opuntia

    You will naturally spend much of your time on the Galápagos Islands marvelling at the animal life, but the plant life too is worthy of mention as it helps to shape and to colour these amazing landscapes. Of these, the most striking are probably the three species of cactus that grow here – Opuntia (or prickly pear), lava cactus and the candelabra...

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  • Other cacti

    While prickly pears are found in many parts of the world, the large Candelabra Cactus is endemic to the Galápagos. Named for its shape, it resembles the Organ Pipe Cactus of the Sonora Desert and can reach seven metres in height. It can be seen in the more arid zones of some islands – the ones in my picture (number three) were photographed on...

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  • Other plant-life: the coastal zone

    As well as the cacti, there are plenty of other plants to bring colour to the islands, though some you will have to search for. The islands are typically divided into three major vegetation zones, each with a very different landscape and correspondingly different flora: the coastal (or littoral) zone, the arid zone and the humid zone (the latter...

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  • Other plant-life: the arid and humid...

    Plants of the arid zone include the various cacti (covered in previous tips). Another that you will see in lots of places is Palo Santo, which Fabian also referred to as Holy Stick or the Jerusalem Tree. This is related to frankincense, and its sap contains an aromatic resin, hence the common names. The branches are shipped to the mainland where...

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Galápagos Islands Hotels

  • Finch Bay Eco Hotel

    Barrio Punta Estrada S/N, Puerto Ayora, 00000, Ecuador

    Satisfaction: Excellent

    Good for: Business

    Hotel Class 4 out of 5 stars

  • Red Mangrove Isabela Lodge

    Puerto Villamil, Isabela Galapagos Islands, , Ecuador

    Satisfaction: Excellent

    Good for: Solo

    Hotel Class 3 out of 5 stars

  • Hostal Casa de Laura

    Before coming to San Cristóbal I had read in my guidebook about Hostal Casa de Laura and it seemed...

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Galápagos Islands Favorites

Reviews and photos of Galápagos Islands favorites posted by real travelers and locals. The best tips for Galápagos Islands sightseeing.
Map of Galápagos Islands