Adding Galapagos to your bucket list is the best thing you can do. And what’s even better is visiting various islands while being on schedule. Even though the archipelago consists of many islands and islets, there are 14 visitable islands, each with its activities and attractions.
Your trip to Galapagos will be filled with plenty of sightseeing, diving, hiking, and exploring. From pondering over the mesmerizing landscapes to watching wildlife, it’s a lifetime experience and an unforgettable journey.
You must add these enchanting islands and see as many as possible while cruising the area. Here’s our guide to the top five Galapagos Islands you must visit!
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1. San Cristobal Island
The island of San Cristobal is the home of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, the capital used as a penal colony for more than a hundred years. Its population counts around 5,000 inhabitants, and its area is 215 sq miles.
The best way to explore this island is by booking private Galapagos tours that will take you to Kicker Rock, also known as “leon dormido” (sleeping lion), Isla Lobos, and famous beaches known for bird-watching activities, snorkeling, diving, and swimming.
Kicker Rock was created by the magma eruptions that led to the establishment of this sheer-walled tuff cone. You can get there by boat. It’s an hour or two from Puerto Baquerizo Moreno.
2. Santa Cruz Island
Santa Cruz is the second largest island on the Galapagos, and it’s the highlight of tourism. Puerto Ayora is the main town, which is home to Academy Bay, a bay named after the Californian expedition in 1905.
If Santa Cruz is on your bucket list, don’t miss the Charles Darwin Research Station, where you can learn more about flora and fauna, the theory of evolution, and Darwin’s contribution to the world as we know it now.
An hour’s walk from Puerto Ayora will lead you to Tortuga Bay, a sheltered area ideal for swimming and watersports activities. Be careful of the sealife since sharks and marine iguanas live in these waters.
3. Isabela Island
Isabela Island is the largest island on the Galapagos archipelago, taking up 58% of the land mass area. It’s one of the most beautiful islands. However, it’s not one of the most visited, which is perfect for those looking for peace, serenity and tranquility.
It’s around 1 million years old, but it’s considered one of the youngest islands on the archipelago. Isabela Island boasts active volcanoes considering its creation of six shield volcanoes. It was formed by the volcanoes Cerro Azul, Wolf, Darwin, Sierra Negra, Alcedo, and Ecuador.
In terms of flora and fauna, this island is pretty interesting; it still has active volcano peaks and lava fields, which contribute to a diverse vegetation zone, not available on the rest of the islands.
Wildlife enthusiasts can enjoy the views of an array of birdlife, including the pink flamingo, the flightless cormorant, and the Galapagos penguin. And let’s not forget the giant tortoises and blue-footed boobies!
4. Santa Fe Island
Santa Fe Island is a popular tourist destination for day trips. If you’re lucky enough to travel in the peak seasons, you can see iguanas that only inhabitant this island. Among the other creatures, you’ll see are sea lions, rice rats, tailed gulls, red-billed tropic birds and shearwater petrels.
This island was created by a volcanic uplift, which is why its surface is flat instead of coned. People do not inhabit the island, so you might need to book a guided boat tour to explore the area.
One of the island’s highlights is the Optunia Echios, a giant cactus that grows on the land and makes quite an unusual sight. In terms of activities on the island, there are two trails where you can go hiking, one is near the beach, and the other one is inland. Then you can go snorkeling, diving, or walking around the area.
The visitor points in Santa Fe are Barrington Bay, Costa Este, El Fondeador, and La Encanada. The last three are marine sites where tourists go diving with sea turtles, manta rays, and sea lions.
5. Bartolome Island
Bartolome Island is famous for the “Pinnacle Rock”, a tower that pokes onto the sky and leans toward the stretch of sandy beaches.
This rock is a large volcanic cone with a staircase that enables visitors to climb all the way to the top. It’s a great place for snorkeling and sightseeing.
Book Your Trip!
While there are many unexplored areas and major Galapagos islands that must be on your bucket list, we’ve chosen our favourites in the hope you’d consider placing them on your list as well.
Start planning your Galapagos itinerary now with our recommendations in mind.
Disclosure: this post is an advertorial feature.