Galapagos Island
Travel, Travel Tips

Galapagos Island-Hopping Tours

Visiting the famed Galapagos Islands – Hopping must be on every persons ultimate wish-list. A visit to these spectacular islands is a once-in-a-lifetime experience where you can get up-close-and-personal with many of the species whose unique adaptation to the conditions offered in this harsh volcanic environment inspired Charles Darwin to develop his revolutionary theory of evolution through natural selection. His visit in 1835 aboard the HMS Beagle to gather specimens resulted in observations that set him thinking about how one species of finch had developed such varied characteristics on the different islands according to the food sources that provided their sustenance.

Today, we can follow in his footsteps to visit the Galapagos Archipelago and witness at first hand how these species have adapted to their unique environments.

The most common way to visit is aboard a cruise ship that motors between the various islands, stopping along the way to explore different ecological niches. But increasingly popular these days are island-hopping tours where visitors can spend their nights in the comfort of a regular hotel in a bed that is not moving with the tides, and go out each day on excursions that explore above and below the water line.

The Galapagos Islands boast many hotels of different levels from basic backpacker style up to luxury lodgings. These are concentrated on three islands – Santa Cruz with its main town of Puerto Ayora, San Cristobal with the small town of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, and Isabela Island in the tiny town of Puerto Villamil. The remaining 16 islands are uninhabited, apart from a small population on the island of Floreana where the original Galapagos post office barrel is located.

Daily excursions run to the islands Bartolome, Española, Floreana, Plazas, North Seymour, Pinzon, and Santa Fe. Half-day excursions explore restricted areas of the main areas where visitors may only go if accompanied by a registered park guide.

Island-hopping tours offer the best way for families with young children and those who are not especially enamoured of the idea of spending a whole week on a boat the chance to explore the Galapagos in comfort and with greater freedom to explore and decide where and what to eat in the evenings.

One company that offers its own island-hopping tours is True Ecuador Travel, an Ecuadorian travel agency dedicated to educational travel. Their tours vary from 5 to 10 days in length and involve staying in hotels on two or three islands and visiting from two to four additional islands. A visit of at least 7 days is recommended to make the most of your relatively short time there and get to see a good variety of what is on offer.

The best part about the island-hopping tours is that they are much more economical than the regular cruises – at least half the price for a similar length of stay, whether you choose the regular tourist class hotel, a tourist superior hotel or a luxury hotel. Many of the activities experienced on the island-hopping tours are the same as those advertised on the cruises, so there is no sacrifice involved in choosing the land-based option.

True Ecuador Travel can adapt their itineraries to include diving or any other particular request that visitors might have to make sure that you get the most out of this unique destination.