A good friend who recently traveled to the Galápagos Islands with his wife and three sons returned home with wonderful tales to tell. As he observed while raving about the photo ops, “The blue-footed boobies alone are worth the price of admission!”

Blue footed boobies on a rock

The Problem with Cruises in the Galapagos

The only glitch in their otherwise great vacation involved logistics…specifically, the twice-daily transfers from ship to shore and back again. On a cruise tour, of course, it’s unavoidable. And in his words, after a few days, it started to get a bit old. All of which got our travel planning team to thinking: everyone who goes to the Galapagos island hops. It’s the only way to experience everything this UNESCO World Heritage Site has to offer. The question is, will you base yourselves on one of the cruise ships that ply the region’s waters? Or opt for seaside eco-lodges that offer unlimited opportunities to explore the islands at will?

The Perks of Staying On Land in the Galapagos

Iguana Crossing Hotel in the Galapagos

For our Galápagos walking tour, we’ve given two thumbs up to the land-based approach. Staying in upscale comfort on shore hasn’t even been possible until recently, and the advantages are huge. From our spacious lodgings, like the Hotel Iguana Crossing on Isabela Island, we can set out several times a day on short strolls to the beach and into town, as well as on longer treks to lakes and lagoons and even a volcanic caldera with our naturalist guides. Staying on the island allows you to start your days with a walk on the beach, a dip in the pool or a walk among flamingos and other wildlife easily reached from your perfectly sited seafront boutique inns.

Get a Closer Look at the Amazing Wildlife

Access to the creatures you want to see most seems to increase tenfold when you’re based on an island. Staying on three distinctly different islands, as our guests do, means there’s not a blue-footed booby, giant tortoise or curious Galapagos penguin to be missed. Picture yourself coming face-to-face with playful baby sea lions, as you snorkel with them, as well as green sea turtles and marine iguanas. A true highlight for many is walking among the giant, 500-pound tortoises as your naturalist guide leads you along a trail known to locals. Get your camera ready to capture these incredible creatures up-close!

Young traveler and sea lion on the beach in the Galapagos

Have More Time to Take in the Islands

And while there is plenty of wildlife, there’s also plenty of time for snorkeling, sea kayaking, and walking through otherworldly volcanic terrain to the awesome caldera of Volcán Chico. You’ll also visit the Charles Darwin Research Center to rediscover his theories of natural selection that put the Galapagos on the map. Join your naturalist guide for fascinating walks that introduce you to the lagoons, mangroves and countryside of the islands, learning all about the flora and fauna along the way.

Staying aboard the HMS Beagle may have been Darwin’s only option when he visited in 1835, but today’s explorers have the benefit of choice. For more on our island-based approach — and how we make the most of every Galapagos moment onshore — check out our island-based wildlife walking adventure and join us for the trip of a lifetime!

Galapagos giant tortoises on the beaches.

Explore the Galapagos